Case Study Research in Educational Settings

By Michael Bassey | Go to book overview
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5 How some case study research
can be disseminated through
fuzzy generalization and
professional discourse1

'Do y instead of x and and your pupils will learn more'
David Hargreaves's lecture to the Teacher Training Agency in 1996 was mentioned in Chapter 1 (Hargreaves 1996). He enraged many educational researchers by saying that 'the £50–£60 million we spend annually on educational research is poor value for money in terms of improving the quality of education provided in schools' (p. 1). Later in the lecture he made clear the kind of research that he was seeking, which he called 'evidence-based'. It is research which:
(i) demonstrates conclusively that if teachers change their practice from x to y there will be a significant and enduring improvement in teaching and learning; and
(ii) has developed an effective method of convincing teachers of the benefits of, and means to, changing from x to y.

(Hargreaves 1996: 5)

While 1 have a measure of agreement with Hargreaves in his criticism of much current research, I disagree with his remedy. I do not believe that there can be general statements of the kind that he seeks: teaching situations are so varied that it is rarely, if ever, possible to say with certainty 'Do y instead of x and your pupils will learn more.' These are statements in the form of scientific generalizations as discussed in Chapter 4. Teaching is such a complex activity that such simple statements just do not exist.2

In December 1996, the National Foundation for Educational Research held its fiftieth birthday party and Hargreaves was one of the invited speakers. He elaborated on his views as to how educational research can influence the practice of teaching and Figure 5.1 contains the diagram and part of the supporting statement which he presented (Hargreaves 1997). I

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