[Update: This post has has some interesting comment. Please take time to read the contributions! Thank you].
I had an interesting exchange of ideas with Dermot Donnelly on Twitter just before Christmas, that I am going to use as the basis of my first posting on eLearning Island of 2013.
Donnelly is a Post-Doctoral researcher at the University of California (Berkley) interested in the affordances of technology for science education. He had tweeted a link to the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (here) about a site they support that helps teachers “find what works“ and “compare the evidence of dozens of education programs“.
I personally feel that many teachers in Ireland do not read educational research as much as they should.
This has particularly struck me since I became involved with the reform of Junior Cycle education here in Ireland.
I am the “link-teacher” in one of the pilot-schools. I have however engaged with a discussion of Junior Cycle reform beyond my own school, both online and face to face.
I am regularly asked what is the basis for this? When was the research done? Is this relevant to Ireland?
I point to Emer Smyths’ work for the Economic and Social Research Institute (2009, Dublin): Junior Cycle Education:Insights from a Longutional study of students. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment have made available research for teachers to access e.g. Paul Blacks presentation (below) in Dublin, October last, on the topic of Assessment.
There is a huge danger that if we as teachers don’t read research we will end up having as Donnelly suggests, a debate as a profession at the level of “lay people”.
Getting involved in eLearning (in the broadest sense of the phrase) since 2007 has forced me to examine and conduct my own education research. Some of this has been formal, some, most informal.
I am with Schön when he wrote that educators descend to the swampy lowlands where “problems are messy and confusing and incapable of technical solution” and are examined with research methods based on “trial and error, intuition or muddling through”.
Teachers do not need to access vast tomes of research documents but do need direction to some key theorists and practitioners in their subject areas. They need to read and discuss these together and they then will begin to evolve their practice. Much of this discussion is now online and examples of innovative practice can be found within many of the Twitter Hash-tag educational communities, #edchatie, #edchat etc.
What is interesting is the slow realisation here in Ireland that with the Junior Certificate Examination finally gone by 2020, that we as teachers will have to adapt our Junior Cycle practices in many different ways. Let these be research led!
Any thoughts out there?
Schön, D.A. 1995. The New Scholarship Requires a New Epistemology. Change [online]. 27 (6), 10 pages.