Teachers don’t find educational research relevant

Depressing but not surprising. From the Director of IES:

For starters, many teachers view research as a search for bright shiny objects pushed by administrators without adequate attention to the needs and skills of teachers. Many told us they felt that their professional knowledge is all too often neglected in education research and, to use a common phrasing, that research was “done to them not with them.”

We also saw a disconnect between what teachers say they needed help with and what education research can accomplish. For example, a common concern among participants is how social media is transforming the kinds and sources of information students brought into the classroom. Teachers are desperate for information about how to manage classrooms in this new environment. But their needs are frequently expressed at a relatively abstract level that doesn’t easily translate into specific researchable questions of the type supported by IES. This disconnect is yet another reason why engaging with teachers is so important.

I was particularly disheartened to learn that many teachers turn to sources like Google, Edutopia, Twitter, Teachers Pay Teachers, and Pinterest for information. Only a scattered handful of teachers had ever heard of IES or the What Works Clearinghouse. Ditto NCER, NCES, NCSER.

Perhaps most disappointing, the Regional Education Labs (RELs) were mostly unknown. Although RELs work most directly with state and district leaders, their services and resources are available to all—including teachers. When I led a group of Omaha teachers to the REL Central website, they were impressed by the resources on it—but not one of them had ever seen it before.


Stephen By Stephen

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Professor and quant guy. Libertarian turned populist Republican. Trying to learn Japanese and play Spanish Baroque music on the ukulele.

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