I’m going to write some posts over the next little while about educational research. Just before Christmas, Michael Pershan and Chris Robinson were going back and forth on Twitter about research vs. blog posts.
“If teachers can rely on blog posts, where does that leave ed research?”
That question got me thinking a whole lot about how and why I use educational research and how and why I use blog posts.
I read research for several reasons.
- I encounter it (via Twitter, blogs, or in journals) and I’m curious, so I read it.
- I deliberately seek it out to confirm a bias. (Don’t judge me. We all do this.)
- I’m genuinely interested in what the research has to say on a certain topic, so I search for it.
My recent blog post about delayed feedback falls into the first category. A colleague showed it to me and I was curious, so I read it.
I tend to mine blogs for ideas that I can use immediately in classrooms and workshops. Those ideas don’t have to be researched based, in my opinion. The fact that a colleague tried it already and it worked for her is sufficient for me to try it out. That endorsement is worth one class period or one unit of study of my time. I see these shared ideas the same way I saw lunchroom conversations in the 1990s. “I did this cool thing in my class today. You should try it out.”
If I were contemplating a major shift in my practice, I’d probably go to research in addition to listening to colleagues. SBG would be an example of something I’d research before changing my whole practice. A blog might inspire me to try it, and the research would confirm that it’s worth doing. One year in Math 8, I did the entire course in cooperative learning groups and activities. That’s a big commitment. That’s a big shift. Research supported and justified my change.
In the next few blog posts, I’m going to look at some of the research I’ve read over the past few years. I’ll explain how I happened across it, and how I use it now.