Friday, April 22, 2011

Research and Practice in Education

Question: How does research relate to practice in education?  

Two Constituencies
“As scholars and teachers in the field of education, we face two constituencies. On the one hand, our research and scholarship is embedded in specific disciplines, representing such fields as rhetoric, linguistics, literature, psychology, anthropology, or communications. On the other hand, we share a common interest in issues and problems of teaching; we expect our research to speak to practice.

“There is usually some tension between these twin constituencies—at its best, a creative tension that leads to new questions and better methods of teaching. Sometimes, however, one or the other of our constituencies gets out of balance, demanding more than its share of attention. Of late, the balance has been shifting toward the practical side of what we do—reflected in demands that research be directly relevant to practice, and in the growing interest in action research and the teacher as researcher.”

The Real World
“To put the case baldly, I don’t believe that any of our research in education can be justified in terms of direct and immediate consequences for practice.”

The Ideal World
“In an ideal world, the relationship between research and teaching would be a symbiotic one. The issues of practice would help shape what counts as interesting and important, honing researchers’ sensibilities as they select problems to work on. The findings of research would give practitioners new questions to ask and new ways to look at their own approaches to teaching. Each would need and respect the other, because each would bring expertise to bear on the problems of education.”

The Real World
“In the real world, we have blurred these differing expertises by forcing researchers to become imperfect prescribers of teaching practice (and teachers to become imperfect researchers….)”

Comment: The co-editor of Research in the Teaching of English, Arthur N. Applebee, pretty well defines the issue between the role of researchers and desires by teachers seeking practical answers to their questions. RayS.

Title: “Musings…Balancing the Demands for Practical Outcomes.” Arthur N. Applebee (Co-editor). Research in the Teaching of English (October 1986), 221-223.

No comments: