Closing the gap between research and teaching

Educational researchers acknowledge that research studies, even excellent ones, make only limited contributions to the understanding and improvement of teaching and learning. Vivian M.J.Robinson, University of Auckland, New Zealand, suggests that the reason for this may be the mismatch between educational research methods and classroom practice. She says research may be ignored if it does not take into account the beliefs that sustain the classroom practices that researchers seek to improve.

Robinson believes that educational practices must be understood as solutions to educational problems. Although research may demonstrate that one teaching practice is more effective than another, educators won’t necessarily change their practice unless researchers understand and address the reasons that shape their actions. She proposes research methods that investigate educational practices by studying the problem-solving processes that led to their use. By understanding teaching practices as practical solutions to educational problems, we can begin to identify the underlying beliefs that prevent practices from being adjusted in response to new research. By identifying constraints and how they function in the problem-solving process, researchers can work more effectively with teachers to bring about desired outcomes.

“Methodology and the Research-Practice Gap,” Educational Researcher, Volume 27, Number 1, 1998, pp. 17-26.

Published in ERN October 1998 Volume 11 Number 7

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