Educational Research Essays Example
For insight and comprehension of possible solutions to the present day education problems, the basis relied upon is published educational research. Thus, it is important to have a guideline on what method to use to evaluate educational research. This evaluation is important because nowadays, there is a lot of research floating around. However, not all this research is credible. Some present itself as sloppy and biased (Stover, 2007). This situation has been aided by the power of the internet as well as the marketing tactics being employed by advocacy groups and think tanks. Whereas no research is perfect, (indeed, it has even been described as being “messy,”), the situation being witnessed at present does not bode well for the credibility of research. The challenge then is to determine how to come up with the criteria for evaluation of this research. This criteria will essentially be able to distinguish good research from bad research. A criteria must not be biased and be able to sift the good from the bad. This paper looks at such criteria and explains how this may be done.
Current Status of Education Research
Educationists and policy makers have been bombarded with so much research, aimed at both them and the media, that research runs the risk of becoming a “wild west” of sorts (Stover, 2007). This is because the quality of research available varies widely, with some of it being merely advocacy research backed up by cherry picked findings and questionable data. Unfortunately, the current methods of evaluating research have been observed to be faulty and this could be the reason why there is so much unsubstantiated research floating around.
This proliferation of unchecked and unreliable research can be credited with the untested innovations being employed in matters of education reform. These innovations end up fizzing into oblivion and becoming irrelevant because they are based on inaccurate data and conclusions. In simple terms, education reforms based on unreliable research are bound to fail in the long time. This situation has elicited interest from the government, which now requires schools to adopt “proven, comprehensive” research. A case in point is the No Child Left Behind Act, implemented by the Bush Administration that mentions “scientifically based research” extensively in reference to various reading programs (Slavin, 2003).
Clearly, something needs to be done before the situation gets even worse. If the current education system is configured around faulty research, then the final outcomes will be disastrous. An entire generation will scarred for life. For example, research on effective teaching methods that is not substantiated and that is therefore inaccurate when adopted in classrooms will have grave outcomes. Student achievement will be affected without a doubt. A perfect example is a research that postulates that a particular instructional method is effective and increases student achievement. If the data used to arrive at this conclusion is incorrect, the final deductions are also incorrect and when they are employed in the actual classroom, they are likely to do more harm than good.
Determining the Validity of Educational Research
The 1975 study of the Committee on Evaluation of Research established that over 60% of the 1971 articles evaluated contained flaws fundamental enough to cause rejection or major revision of the articles (Hall, Ward, & Comer, 1988). This astronomical figure only serves to highlight the magnitude of the problem. A similar study that mirrored that of the Committee was undertaken in 1983. It sought to determine what percentage out of the articles sampled were considered so fundamentally flawed as to require a major overhaul, which percentage was considered rejected and which percentage only had minor flaws.
For an article to be considered a research article, there are various criteria, it must meet. First, the article must have a problem statement. Secondly, the article must involve presentation of data though this need not be quantitative. The third factor is that the article must involve an analysis of the data. Finally, the article must have a conclusion.
Based on these metrics, a population of 1406 articles was picked, out of which a stratified random sample of 128 articles was selected. These 128 articles were randomly assigned and mailed to 128 different judges. To eliminate any possible bias, the names and institutional affiliations of the articles’ authors were removed. Fifty articles were then randomly selected, and these are the ones used in the reliability study. These articles were then evaluated based on 33 specific characteristics. An overall editorial judgment and a justification for this judgment. An overall rating of the article in relation to overall educational research was another measure.
Findings on the Validity of Educational Research
This study resulted in findings that indicated that 58% of evaluated articles were deemed good for publication, or had only minor flaws whereas 42% were deemed to require major revision or unfit for publication.
The most common flaw was a failure to identify a valid and reliable data collection method. These results showed that there was an improvement in the quality of educational research material in the 10-year period between the two studies (Hall, Ward, & Comer, 1988). However, despite the increase in quality, a matter of concern is that journals are still publishing a large amount of data that is generally unfit for publication.
Recommendations for Valid Education Research
Valid research is that which uses meaningful achievement measures to compare data while also using a control sample (Slavin, 2003). A control group, for example in an educational research is a randomized experiment where students, schools or teachers are assigned to a group by chance. However, randomized experiments are a rarity in educational research. A more common occurrence is matched studies that make use of statistical methods to pretest differences between the experimental and control groups.
Research alone will never influence educational policy (Stover, 2007). This is because personal values, as well as life experiences, also influence decisions. Simply put, education is quite a subjective and dynamic element of the society and consequently, it would be suicidal to base policies related to it on one factor; research. Nevertheless, the research community should still be more influential in matters of policy. However, for it to be seriously considered and for it to make a positive impact on policy formulation, it must first ensure that it eliminates practices such as cherry picking and bottom fishing which threaten to compromise the integrity of all research (Slavin, 2003). A good place to start would be to reach a consensus on research standards in the field. This would help editors to weed out poorly done research. Poor research can have serious consequences with the most dangerous being the formulation of education polices based on poor research. These policies may in the long run come to hurt the entire education system and structure. As mentioned earlier, the creation of a standard criteria for evaluating research will significantly assist in solving these problems.
Hall, B. W., Ward, A. W., & Comer, C. B. (1988). Published Educational Research: An Empirical Study of Its Quality. Journal of Educational Research , 182-189.
Slavin, R. E. (2003). A Reader's Guide to Scientifically Based Research. Educational Leadership, 12-16.
Stover, D. (2007). Politics and Research. American School Board Journal , 19-23.