What Does Good Education Research Look Like? Situating a Field and Its Practices

By Lyn Yates | Go to book overview

Introduction

What is good education research is a much debated topic, both inside universities where researchers are trained, and in more public arenas. Why certain forms or examples of research are not good is an even more common topic of discussion. This part of the book discusses these debates.

In Chapter 1, What does good education research look like? Some beginnings and debates, I argue that people do bring to their discussions of education research some reasonably common and meaningful formal criteria (they are concerned about what it contributes to knowledge, about the quality of its methodology, and about the type of contribution it makes to the field, that it does something that matters), but that the attempts to more narrowly prescribe these agendas are, rightly, disputed. To illustrate this, I take three currently popular attempts to delineate more specific criteria for 'good research' in education and show the problems in accepting any one of these as the mandated answer. All three examples appear to make some good sense. The first is to say that 'good research' in education must contribute to learning. The second says that 'good research' in education must speak to, and be usable by, practitioners. The third, now being rapidly taken up by important government bodies, is that 'good research' must mean 'scientifically-based research'. My discussion of each position tries to show some of the agendas at work with those who promote the criteria and some of the agendas or issues important to education that are not met by working tightly within that particular framework. More broadly, this discussion shows the interplay of normative, technical and contextual issues that shape various debates and various approaches to education research.

In Chapter 2, History, fashion and academic research in education, I take two arenas of education research activity, research on reading, and research on gender, to discuss why research approaches (theories, methodologies, types of claims) change; why education researchers do

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