Doing Research about Education

By Geoffrey Walford | Go to book overview

8

Climbing an Educational Mountain: Conducting the International School Effectiveness Research Project (ISERP)

David Reynolds, Bert Creemers, Sam Stringfield, Charles Teddlie and the ISERP Team1


Introduction

The last 20 years have seen an explosion of research in the field of school effectiveness. From a position of considerable marginality within the educational research communities of most societies, what has been called the school effectiveness 'movement' is now increasingly recognized as an educational subdiscipline, with its own professional association (The International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement), its own journal and own annual meeting. Also, the findings of the discipline have achieved very ready acceptance and take up within the political system of the UK, and also more generally within schools themselves, where the notion of being given 'good practice' on which to build has been enthusiastically supported (see Reynolds, 1996, for a survey of these developments, and Reynolds, Creemers, Hopkins, Stoll and Bollen, 1996, for an overview of the field currently).

It would be wrong to portray the school effectiveness discipline as being universally uncritically accepted, however. There have been arguments from many within the sociology of education (Angus, 1993) that school effectiveness research takes too much 'for granted' in its definitions of effectiveness, which are usually argued to be the same as those of governments and more conservative educational philosophers. There have also been arguments (Hamilton, 1996) that it is concerned with simplistic, often managerially based, policies to improve the inevitably highly complex world of schools and classrooms. There have also been arguments (Elliott, 1996) that it has neglected to concern itself with the long-term developmental needs of teachers, and that indeed it neglects to add the 'voice' of the teacher to its many sources of ideas, preferring instead to give primacy and in some cases exclusivity to the voice of the school effectiveness researcher in understanding schools and classrooms.

1 Asbjorn Birkemo, Shin-Jen Chang, Yin Cheong Cheng, John Clarke, Barbara Dundas, Juanita Epp, Walter Epp, Barry Green, Marit Groterud, Vivian Hajnal, Trond Eiliv Hauge, Jen-jye Hwang, Peggy Kirby, Astrid Eggen Knutsen, Yong-yin Lee, Bjorn Nilsen, HuiLing Pan, Desmond Swan, Frans Swint.

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