Federal Underinvestment in Education Research

By Kuncl, Ralph W. | Academe, July/August 2004 | Go to article overview

Federal Underinvestment in Education Research


Kuncl, Ralph W., Academe


The federal government has a bigger role to play in understanding how the "knowledge industry" of higher education works. Move over Big Science, it's time for the era of Big Education.

We are a knowledge-based society. But the knowledge business has a problem. It doesn't know enough. When General Electric or Microsoft has a problem, it spends several percent of its revenues-perhaps billions of dollars-on research and development. It does so despite enormous demands on the resources that drive its profits. Historically, -we as a society have pumped about 5 to 10 percent of total federal expenditures for defense and health into research and development-in spite of serious pressures to fund the delivery of national defense and health care. It is a great irony that education, a field that values new knowledge so much, lags severely behind in the proportion of outlays devoted to research.

Why invest in education research? Put simply, we have vast areas of ignorance in education. A small sampling of research questions applicable to all educational settings includes (a) How do students learn best? By experience? By drill? In play or sport? (b) What's the optimal class size (especially in K-12 education)? (c) How does ethnic diversity enhance learning, and what evidence shows that it does? (d) How do we achieve fewer dropouts? (e) What techniques work best for retention of knowledge? (f) How can basic cognitive science be translated into the classroom?

Some of these questions are gaining new attention. In 2000, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council published How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School to "explore the critical issue of how better to link the findings of research on the science of learning to actual practice in the classroom." In 2003-04, the National Science Foundation (NSF) launched a program to establish some fifteen to twenty-five national "science of learning centers." The program aims to fund basic scientific research into how people learn in order to help inform educational practices and policy. The centers might explore, for example, robotics, artificial intelligence, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, and the biological basis of learning. These trends represent the basic research side of research and development.

The translational side must necessarily follow. Smart research programs such as the NSF's science of learning centers recognize that as long as basic researchers have no ties to the applied researchers and practitioners in their field, their research will be effectively meaningless. So the NSF will fund outreach to users and assessment and dissemination of the research its centers produce.

Like the study of learning, research on the educational efficacy of a racially and ethnically diverse environment has also advanced over the past several years. The American Educational Research Association's Panel on Racial Dynamics in Higher Education published its findings in 2003 in Compelling Interest: Examining the Evidence on Racial Dynamics in Colleges and Universities. Similarly, the American Council on Education's Office of Minorities in Higher Education continues to publish research annually in special reports. These efforts are interesting starts, but they are not nearly enough.

In higher education, an array of research issues face us, such as (a) How can college students best be encouraged to graduate in a reasonable time? (b) How do student enrollment patterns (full time, part time) affect the likelihood of completion of degree, subsequent degree attainment, and outcomes in the labor market? (c) What role does financial aid play in determining who goes to which institution and what happens to them? (d) How do different postsecondary curricula affect initial degree attainment, subsequent degree attainment, and labor market and citizenship outcomes? (e) In the competitive, stratified environment of U.S. higher education, how does wealth inequality influence the ability of institutions to fulfill their missions? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Federal Underinvestment in Education Research
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.