Monday, June 6, 2016

Who Uses Educational Research? And How? - Living in Dialogue

Who Uses Educational Research? And How? - Living in Dialogue:

Who Uses Educational Research? And How?

By John Thompson.
My first response to The Push and Pull of Research: Lessons from a Multi-site Study of Research Use in Education Policy, by Christopher Lubienski, Elizabeth Debray, Janelle Scott, was clichéd. Being an optimist, I’ve kept asking why education research is misused so badly, and when smart and sincere scholars will revise their methodologies to something more reality-based than the regression studies used to justify corporate school reform. So, my response to the reality-slap in the face that is “The Push and Pull of Research” was “thanks, I needed that.”
Lubienski, Debray, and Scott “conducted scores of interviews with individuals from organizations that play a brokering role between research producers and users (policymakers), including advocacy organizations, think tanks, and media outlets.” They were particularly interested in how advocacy groups and think tanks, known as intermediary organizations, “conveyed research evidence that would illuminate policy discussions.” It is bad enough that these powerful people seem to merely assume that policy must be based on incentives and disincentives, as opposed to more comprehensive and coordinated, holistic policies. I was still dismayed to read, however, that they found philanthropies to be “largely inert ‘consumers’ of research,” while intermediary organizations (IOs) were very active in “brokering or selling particular versions of research evidence to them.”
Lubienski, Debray, and Scott asked whether these IOs gained influence because of “pull factors,” or the desire of big philanthropists to make evidence-based decisions in regard to social policy and solutions. Or, did the IOs get access through “push factors,” such as their abilities in self-promotion and the cultivating institutional “brand?”
Sadly, Lubienski, Debray, and Scott discovered that “research played virtually no part in decision making for policymakers, despite their frequent rhetorical embrace of the value of research.” Instead, they documented “a remarkable amount of ‘pushing’ of research to policymakers by IOs.” They then asked “an interesting question as to why so much in the way of time and resources would be devoted to getting evidence to Who Uses Educational Research? And How? - Living in Dialogue:

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