Educational Research

Educational Research: Why 'What Works' Doesn't Work

Editors: Smeyers, Paul, Depaepe, Marc (Eds.)

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About this book

Education and educational research, according to the current fashion, are supposed to be concerned with ‘what works’, to the exclusion of all other considerations. All over the world, and particularly in the English-speaking countries, governments look for means of improving ‘student achievement’ as measured by standardized test scores. Although such improvements are often to be welcomed, they do not answer all significant questions about what constitutes good education. Also the research on which they are based is not the only legitimate way to do educational research. Social research, and therefore educational research, cannot ignore the distinctive nature of what it studies: a social activity where questions of meaning and value cannot be eliminated, and where interpretation and judgment play a crucial role.

In this book distinguished philosophers and historians of education from 6 countries focus on the problematical nature of the search for ‘what works’ in educational contexts, in practice as well as in theory. Beginning with specific problems, they move on to more general and theoretical considerations, seeking to go beyond over-simple ideas about cause and effect and the rhetoric of performativity that currently has educational thinking in its grip.

Freedom of inquiry in educational research can no longer be taken for granted. Narrow definitions of what constitutes ‘scientific’ research, funding criteria that enforce particular research methods, and policy decision processes that ignore any research that is not narrowly utilitarian, create a context in many countries that discourages scholarship of a more speculative, exploratory, or critical sort.

This book brings together an exceptional combination of international and cross-disciplinary scholars who bring the perspectives of history and philosophy of science to ask, ‘How did we arrive at this place? and ‘Where is educational research heading? The book illuminates the anti-intellectual consequences of a ‘what works’ mentality in education, and shows that the ostensibly ‘scientific’ revolution in educational research in fact reflects an ahistorical and conceptually muddled understanding of what actually constitutes ‘science.’ This book could not be more timely and important.’

Nicholas C. Burbules, Grayce Wicall Gauthier Professor, University of Illinois

With research increasingly tied to State policies with the instrumental purpose of guiding school reforms, the volume provides an important historical and philosophical questioning of the possibilities, limitations and challenges of education research. Internationally leading scholars engage in a significant conversation that is sophisticated and nuanced for understanding contemporary debates.’

Thomas S. Popkewitz, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

This publication is realized by the Research Community (FWO-Vlaanderen / Research Foundation Flanders, Belgium) Philosophy and History of the Discipline of Education. Evaluation and Evolution of the Criteria for Educational Reseach.

 

Reviews

"Freedom of inquiry in educational research can no longer be taken for granted. Narrow definitions of what constitutes ‘scientific’ research, funding criteria that enforce particular research methods, and policy decision processes that ignore any research that is not narrowly utilitarian, create a context in many countries that discourages scholarship of a more speculative, exploratory, or critical sort.
This book brings together an exceptional combination of international and cross-disciplinary scholars who bring the perspectives of history and philosophy of science to ask, ‘How did we arrive at this place? and ‘Where is educational research heading? The book illuminates the anti-intellectual consequences of a ‘what works’ mentality in education, and shows that the ostensibly ‘scientific’ revolution in educational research in fact reflects an ahistorical and conceptually muddled understanding of what actually constitutes ‘science.’ This book could not be more timely and important."
Nicholas C. Burbules, Grayce Wicall Gauthier Professor, University of Illinois

"With research increasingly tied to State policies with the instrumental purpose of guiding school reforms, the volume provides an important historical and philosophical questioning of the possibilities, limitations and challenges of education research. Internationally leading scholars engage in a significant conversation that is sophisticated and nuanced for understanding contemporary debates." Thomas S. Popkewitz, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA


Table of contents (4 chapters)

  • Ovide Decroly, A Hero of Education

    Angelo Van Gorp

    Pages 37-50

  • Why Generalizability is not Generalizable

    Lynn Fendler

    Pages 51-64

  • Problematization or Methodology

    James D. Marshall

    Pages 81-94

  • The Relevance of Irrelevant Research; The Irrelevance of Relevant Research

    Paul Smeyers

    Pages 95-108

Buy this book

eBook $159.00
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-4020-5308-5
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $209.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-4020-5307-8
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $209.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-90-481-7334-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Educational Research: Why 'What Works' Doesn't Work
Editors
  • Paul Smeyers
  • Marc Depaepe
Series Title
Educational Research
Series Volume
1
Copyright
2006
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright Holder
Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
eBook ISBN
978-1-4020-5308-5
DOI
10.1007/978-1-4020-5308-5
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-4020-5307-8
Softcover ISBN
978-90-481-7334-1
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
VI, 196
Topics