ERIC Number: ED485616
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004
What Does the Research Say? Does Technology Combined with Inquiry?Based Lessons Increase Students' Learning?
Kleiman, Glenn M.
Education Development Center, Inc.
There is currently a great deal of controversy about a critical issue in educational research: What constitutes valid evidence for determining whether educational innovations are effective? One side of the controversy is reflected in the U.S. Department of Education's current policies and funding programs. This side emphasizes methodological considerations, specifically the use of randomized control trials in which the educational innovation is provided to one group of students, teachers, or classes (the experimental group) while it is not provided to another comparable group (the control group). According to the U.S. Department of Education (2003), "strong" evidence of effectiveness can only be provided when the candidates for the research are randomly assigned to the experimental and control groups. Evidence of "possible" effectiveness may be provided by studies that closely match the groups on relevant factors, such as academic achievement and demographics, but do not make random assignments ("quasi-experimental" studies). According to this side, any other research methods do not provide meaningful evidence of effectiveness. The controversy is whether this approach is the only type of research that can yield valuable findings and therefore the only type that should be supported by federal funding. Those on the other side of this controversy follow the lead of the Scientific Research in Education report from the National Research Council (2002), which provides six guiding principles that underlie all scientific inquiry, including education research. They are: (1) Pose significant questions that can be investigated empirically; (2) Link research to relevant theory; (3) Use methods that permit direct investigation of the question; (4) Provide a coherent and explicit chain of reasoning; (5) Replicate and generalize across studies; and (6) Disclose research to encourage professional scrutiny and critique. The difference between these two views is significanout research into educational uses of technology. The randomized trials view begins research with a fixed methodology; the other view begins with significant questions linked to relevant theory and then looks for appropriate methods to obtain rigorous information about those questions, however, there is more consensus than might first appear to be the case. All researchers agree that, when feasible, randomized experimental trials provide the strongest data on which to base conclusions that an educational program or innovation is the actual cause of any change in student performance. All researchers also agree that education research needs to become more rigorous, and that the inclusion of more randomized experimental studies is important to the field. Within the context of this controversy, this is the first of a series of planned articles on research about technology in K-12 education. The articles are written for COSN members, and are therefore intended to address the needs and interests of educational leaders and policymakers responsible for decisions about the educational uses of technology.
Descriptors: Teaching Methods, Program Effectiveness, Research Methodology, Experimental Groups, Educational Innovation, Control Groups, Educational Research, Instructional Effectiveness, Grade 4, Grade 3
Education Development Center, Inc. 43 Foundry Avenue, Waltham, MA 02453. Tel: 617-969-7100; Fax: 617-969-5979; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://ltd.edc.org
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Kindergarten; Preschool Education; Primary Education; Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: Education Development Center, Inc., Newton, MA. Consortium for School Networking, Washington, DC.