With respect to the fifth edition, the book so far has brought the ‘story’ of educational research up to date on very many issues, and in the concluding part that follows we outline some important developments which, we suggest, will feature prominently over the coming years. Although what we say is speculative, these initiatives, we believe, will become fruitful avenues of approach; nevertheless, the message that educational research is developing and metamorphosing is one that cannot be ignored.
It is notable that none of the developments that we include here began life in the world of education, but elsewhere. The Internet had its origins in military intelligence, whilst simulations and fuzzy logic have their origins largely in the natural sciences and mathematics. Simulations have spilled over into all walks of life, from economic forecasting to navigating ships; and fuzzy logic is prevalent in the manufacture of white goods and controlling traffic flow. Geographical Information Systems, another line of development we consider, have been brought into education, being already established in social welfare analysis and health provision. And needs analysis derives from social policy formation, housing and welfare reforms. Although it has featured in education for some time, it is emerging from recent relative neglect to assume an important role, not least because, with the impact of the introduction of industrial management systems into education, it is premised on the belief redolent of Japanese business practice that the best people to identify a problem are the ones who are closest to it! Finally, evidence-based education, building on the subject of meta-analysis that we discussed in Part Three, has been prominent in the world of medicine for many years, and the worldwide Cochrane Collaboration—a group that collates the results of stringent experimental testing of treatments typically through randomized controlled trials, preparing, maintaining and promoting the accessibility of systematic reviews of the effects of health care interventions—testifies to this.
This mixed pedigree of emerging developments signals that educational research is eclectic in its paradigms, traditions, methodologies, instrumentation and data analysis. Further, it is important to recognize that educational research is integrative; it steps over the traditional boundaries of different disciplines; its epistemological basis being, in part, derivative, and suggestive of a need to cross such boundaries and protected territories. Educational research is both modern and postmodern! Just as new knowledge crosses traditional epistemological boundaries, is at the frontiers of traditional disciplines and creates new ones, so research, in its endeavour to create new knowledge, need not be hidebound by tradition. Education opens minds; educational research should be open to new developments.