Education is an integral aspect of every society and in a bid to expand the frontiers of knowledge, educational research must become a priority. Educational research plays a vital role in the overall development of pedagogy, learning programs, and policy formulation.
Educational research is a spectrum that bothers on multiple fields of knowledge and this means that it draws from different disciplines. As a result of this, the findings of this research are multi-dimensional and can be restricted by the characteristics of the research participants and the research environment.
Educational research is a type of systematic investigation that applies empirical methods to solving challenges in education. It adopts rigorous and well-defined scientific processes in order to gather and analyze data for problem-solving and knowledge advancement.
The dangers of not conducting research in education
If education is not based upon research and evidence, then it runs the risk of being based upon one or more of the following:
Dogma,theory,Ideology,convenience,prejudice,etc. Education is a political football and can be used for propaganda and political purposes. We can see that there is a moral dimension to the profession and to follow dogma blindly is wrong. Education should serve to liberate, and promote democracy and equality of opportunity.
Similarly, ideology can be dangerous. Teachers have a social responsibility to develop active citizens. To guide one’s practice around an ideology means that evidence can be selected to score political points. Following an ideological route restricts choice, which is the opposite to the real purpose of education.
Given that we have all been to school, we all have views on how and what we were taught. The trouble is that we were taught in an age gone by new theories and technological advances have taken, and are taking, place. Basing our practise solely on our own learning experiences, without reflection, means education runs the risk of being outdated and not being forward-looking.
Theories come and go and any single theory cannot operate in isolation. Learners and learning are complex and success is influenced by a multitude of factors, social backgrounds, family background, personality, age, gender, location etc. Theories need to be combined, tested and challenged in order to allow us to adapt to suit local and personal environments.
Convenience and manageability are important, but the question is whose convenience’? Teachers can occupy and even control pupils, as well as entertain them. But we have to ask if learning takes place. Learning new things and new ways of behaving can be uncomfortable. It is not enough to base teaching and learning around convenience.
Research enables all of the above to be challenged. Basing decisions upon evidence is morally sound. Research can help teachers to understand what works and why, what the short and long-term implications are, provide a justification and rationale for decisions and actions, help to build a repertoire to help deal with the unexpected, identify problems, inform improvement and so forth
Some forms of evidence are more useful to some professionals than others. Large scale studies into pupil performance can help to identify trends and enable educational outcomes to be related to social and economic needs.
The practitioner benefits
Practitioners have to comply with policy, but that does not mean following a prescribed formula. Teachers can adapt it to fit the individual needs of their own pupils. But teachers are accountable.
The public must have faith in the profession – and attitudes to education vary across many social groups – so the performance of teachers can be demonstrated through the publication of research findings.
Teachers project their own personality upon learning experiences. Sometimes this is intuitive and these decisions can either be successful or fail. Research methodologies give teachers the tools to analyse and make informed decisions about their practice. Research helps teachers to share with colleagues. Too often research looks backwards and there are lessons to learn.
Research helps teachers to share with colleagues. Too often research looks backwards and there are lessons to learn. Research should be future-oriented and designed to benefit learners rather than the researchers themselves.
Research should always be future-oriented and student beneficiary
All teachers want to teach their students more effectively and help them become better learners and citizens. Action research provides a reflective process you can use to implement changes in your classroom and determine if those changes result in the desired outcome.