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Trends in Research on Teaching: an Historical and Critical Overview

  • Margaret D. LeCompte
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE, volume 21)

Teaching and learning are complex, highly diverse, and frequently individualistic phenomena. That complexity poses a major dilemma in educational research: Since educational phenomena typically are poorly understood, investigating them requires insights from multiple disciplines using multiple kinds of research designs. Further, researchers must thoroughly explore their internal and external characteristics currently, over time, in multiple settings, and with different kinds of teachers and learners. It is difficult to achieve this type of detailed and careful exploration because framing educational problems in terms of complexity pits educational research against political realities. United States' educational culture, and — by extension — all educational systems influenced by the United States, whether directly through foreign aid, or indirectly through the work of United States' based educational consultants and United States' dominated non-governmental organizations and international organizations, have focused on quick fixes and universal solutions. This makes problematic the serious consideration of difficult problems and long-term solutions. It pushes research in education to emphasize products or outcomes (measured in terms of academic achievement and student test scores) directed at identifying short term solutions to what have been defined as single — albeit complex — problems. In part this preference may be driven by a prejudice toward experimental designs that require single causes and favor unambiguous effects; it also may be a function of the technocratic and impatient nature of United States' culture, which permeates every aspect of the educational system. United States' culture is reluctant to frame social problems in complex, multi-facetted ways and even more reluctant to view education as an expensive venture, worthwhile at least as much because of its contribution to social justice and the overall common good as because of its contribution to the economy. In this chapter, a distinction is made between educational research, done primarily by investigators in the field of education, and research on school systems and educational phenomena, carried out by researchers in the social and behavioral sciences more broadly. The former is focused primarily on the acts of teaching and learning by teachers and students; its context is narrowly construed as the classroom itself.

Keywords

Educational Research Educational Researcher Complementary Method Ethnographic Research American Educational Research Association 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret D. LeCompte
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of ColoradoBoulderMargaret

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