I substitute a microscope for a tablet. My lab is a university office. Books and manuscripts replace scientific equipment. Ink is the only chemical I need. There is a certain type of satisfaction that comes with conducting, synthesizing and interpreting educational research. Never in my wildest dreams did I envision myself in this role, though little did I know it’s the foundation for everything.
I’m a young research analyst, and even when I move on from this role my title may change, but the skill will transition with me wherever I go. Educational research, like most other scientific research domains, focus on three areas: challenging the status quo, policy improvement, and allowing evidence to do the talking. These three areas are functions I acknowledge whenever I do relevant work.
Challenging the Status Quo
Our world is a robust social construction, meaning all laws, policies and expectations are agreed upon by citizens and society stakeholders. Money, time, rules, educational curriculums, and even sex/gender norms are all examples of status quo standards we oblige and live by. What educational research does in an excellent way is analyze the status quo of many outlets and inquire does the status quo truly benefit all stakeholders? If it does, how so? If it doesn’t, why not? The Satir Change model excellently visualizes this process–with educational research being one facet to get the change/innovation conversation started, challenging the argumentum ad antiquitatem fallacy, which proposes something is good simply because it is the traditional way of doing things. However, the proposed change MUST be beneficial and relevant to stakeholders, or it could end up creating an opposite fallacy argumentum ad novitatem, which means appealing to a new perspective status quo simply because it is new and different.
All corporations, educational entities, and similar business structures rely on an outlined string of policies to dictate, simplify and clarify organizational functions. Rather the research method is qualitative textual data, quantitative statistical data, benchmarking, or evaluation and assessment, reviewing policy frameworks to ensure relevancy to stakeholders is vital. The reason why is because our society uses laws, policies and regulations to justify actions and decisions. However, not all “laws” may be beneficial or applicable to all citizens or areas. This is were educational research is such a vital tool via identifying such policies and providing recommendations for improved laws. This takes a macro (large change) approach to policy development, because mezzo (mid change) and micro (small change) approaches often aren’t strong enough to implement large-scale change.
Allowing Evidence to do the Talking
What attracts me to educational research most is if conducted ethically and correctly, the results can be indisputable. As a research analyst, I personally make no claims whatsoever. Any concluding results from a research poster, manuscript, or interview is simply synthesizing facts to create a conclusion. My goal is to remain objective while following the evidence wherever it takes me. Only during the evaluation process of an assessment might I provide recommendations based on my expertise–with this entire research process separate from objective educational research. Furthermore, any awards or accolades I receive really shouldn’t be attributed to me; it truly is a win for the researched subject instead.