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ERIC Number: EJ782765
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jan
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0031-7217
Examining the Incentives in Educational Research
Brewer, Dominic J.; Goldhaber, Dan D.
Phi Delta Kappan, v89 n5 p361-364 Jan 2008
In their best seller, "Freakonomics", University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and "New York Times" writer Stephen Dubner show in an amusing and often provocative manner how an economic way of thinking can be useful in explaining all sorts of real-world phenomena. Their central insight is very simple: incentives are the cornerstone of modern life. As economists, it's no surprise that they take this proposition as the starting point in their effort to understand the educational research enterprise in the United States. By some measures, the enterprise is quite healthy. In terms of the "quantity" of completed research, it's booming, and barely a week goes by without a major national media outlet reporting on the latest finding of educational research. Unfortunately, the bulk of educational research neither is outcomes-oriented nor uses methods that support strong inferences about causality. Despite an emphasis on randomized research designs (for example, by the U.S. Department of Education) and on the use of sophisticated quasi-experimental methods (particularly those using comprehensive student-level longitudinal data), the proportion of the entire educational research enterprise that would pass muster for scientific rigor in other fields is shockingly small. Consequently, for policy makers striving to craft effective policies, the research base remains thin. In this article, the authors explore some of the reasons for this. Here, they examine the "market" for educational research using a supply and demand framework. In this case, the consumers are the policy makers, educators, and parents who "demand" research evidence to help them make critical choices about how to allocate resources, how to teach kids, how to choose schools, and so on. The suppliers of educational research are the individuals and organizations that produce the studies, reports, and findings. (Contains 6 endnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A