Thursday, July 14, 2011

Evidence Based Research

With the advent of No Child Left Behind, and the increased emphasis on Scientifically Based Research as a measuring stick for effective programs and practices, the field of education leadership research has tended more towards quantitative research as opposed to qualitative research because of the underpinning scientific foundation of cause and effect within quantitative research. The aspect of quantitative research that deals with causal relationships by exploring independent and dependent variables along a hypothesis is what associates quantitative research with the "evidence based" term.

This type of search is preferred to qualitative research because qualitative research have tendencies towards bias, and has a focus on attitudes that do not provide an accurate cause/effect relationship when faced with replicating the study or implementing the practice/program. Quantitative studies seek the relational evidence that can be easier replicated and implemented because specific variables are studied and experimented for proving relationships.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Factors that Effect Variances in Student Academic Achievement

The Coleman Report explores many factors that impact student achievement, and the effects of variances within those factors. Through my review of those factors, I classified the factors into two categories: Input factors and Output factors.

The input factors would be factors related to differences that students have as they enter into educational situations. These differences vary from sociology-economic situations, friends, and history of quality teachers. While reading many of these factors, the one that stuck out would be the differences in student experiences over the summer, where students who have experiences that enhance their educational growth tend to experience greater growth during their school experience, while those who lack the experiences tend to have less growth. I contribute this to the enhancement of contextual experiences upon which to apply educational instruction. for example, a student who is unfamiliar with the Taiga biome is at a disadvantage from the student who just vacationed to that part of the world and is already familiar with the flora and fauna of the biome. Good, bad or indifferent, it is a difference that expresses itself and can impact student growth. I feel that this factor can be impacted by educational organizations through the integration of summer learning experiences, similar and including summer school. One school in the St. Louis area (where I have previously worked) provides organized trips to national parks for learning experiences tailored to upcoming student curricular topics that the tea hers can use to build upon the context of the summer learning experience. But to a more mainstream extent, this factor provides evidence to support summer enrichment and experiences for students.

Output factors would be those factors that educational organizations are expected to produce from the students. NCLB provides normative targets that districts are expected to meet, and ties the achievement of meeting those targets to funding, therefore forcing schools to modify their learning experiences to accommodate the testing that provides the indicators. (Sometimes excessively so, take the recent Atlanta situation). However, there are opportunities and trends that account for student input differences, and explore value added models of assessing achievement. This model shows more respect for student, teacher and organization, and focuses on growth of students of various and dynamic input differences.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Science of Education

Many people feel that education needs to become more "scientific" in their approach to student achievement. Science and education have both similarities and differences in their approaches. Education and science differs because science often focus on the results of an experiment, while education tends to concern some question about schools and looks at data from other studies to address the concern. However, the two fields are similar in that they both use research as a means to make better decisions about practical problems.

The fields of education and medicine, specifically, are similar in that they deal with professional approaches to achieving better results to concerns. As a professional it means that there is a large body of knowledge in the field as a foundation for action, there is mastery of that knowledge, and they practice their profession.

In the medical field, doctors ask question, take baseline samples and assess the situation, and then apply their knowledge to determine a course of action to address the situation. Education should be similar, using assessment to determine a course for learning. While I disagree with the term "cure"', educators need to differentiate instruction to meet the particular needs of each student based on assessment of student needs coordinated with learning targets. Instruction can then be prescribed to move the student towards the target.

To move the field of education towards more science and medicine approach, it is important to include in the field of knowledge that is the foundation of the profession research that is based in science and experimentation. With the inclusion of "scientifically based research", educators are able to choose from rigorous programs known to be effective rather than recreate research to achieve improvement. While not a guarantee that implementing these programs will achieve great improvement, the confidence in past performance can provide guidance towards desired results through the implementation of the program.