Sunday, 9 October 2011

Educational Research - A Single Concept?

Bassey is hugely critical of Lord Skidelsky's assumption that educational research is a single concept that can only be studied by a group of researchers who work externally to the field they are studying. The study of 'educational research' as plural concept enables a transient phase of understanding. I, too, am critical of the assertion that Skidelsky has 'stud[ied] professionally much of the research that has taken place' informing his decisions to move all research to the TDA. This ignores the ability to cover research questions that may be difficult to bring in to the public light. He believes that educational research should be its on subset of a larger group of research disciplines; that it should have a close link to practice and aim to improve educational action via informing educational judgements and decisions, thereby illustrating the functional purpose of research. The outcomes should come by way of improvements in learning. 

This is contrasted with the other discipline-based research, which Bassey makes distinct. He states the psychological, sociological, philosophical, historical and economic research are research on education by stating that these are focussed on examining specific phenomena involved in educational processes and their settings. I disagree with this, as I believe that all these disciplines are education and education is part of them; to make them completely distinct means we will always be infringing on one discipline or another. For example, when we study 'peer pressure and it's effects on learning', we are looking through a social discipline, when we question the practice of teaching maths in the classroom, we must look at previous history of mathematics teaching.

When amalgamating all teachers within the box of only being able to offer 'personal theories' using David Tripp (1993)'s statement 'most academic educational knowledge is of very little use to teachers and that teachers' knowledge and understanding of their practice is seriously under-represented and discounted in the university discipline of education.' to support this, I feel confusion and anger. What is the point of me undertaking this Masters study if all I need is teaching practice, practical experience? Is this all a narcissistic and futile activity? 

Even Dylan Wiliam (cited in Lipsett, 2008), deputy director of the Institute of Education states the Masters study needed to have a practical focus, so teachers could see how to use what they learn in their classrooms.

"Research shows that current masters degrees do not appear to make people better teachers and there is no relationship between those that hold them and children progressing any quicker," he said.
"The masters needs to be practical and focused on making people the best teachers and not filling their heads full of educational theory."

So now we have William stating that teachers need not to be filled with 'educational theory' and Bassey claiming that by being led by professional discourse and everyday experiences, teachers can only offer 'personal theory'. Surely having both personal and educational theory makes can aid in strengthening the competency of  teachers. I agree with Bassey in the sense that purely 'personal theory' cannot fully inform educational action yet, like William I believe that those whose heads are filled with 'educational theory' do not a better teacher make.

My experiences and professional discourse with colleagues form the predominant understanding of my teaching practice, however, the training and reading I have obtained and will obtain from this study allow me to be reflective about what it is actually easy I am understanding. It allows me to place my understanding within the stratosphere of other teachers and staff within the educational field.

This is why I am undertaking the MEd. It will allow me to input all my sources of knowledge into my practice.


Bassey, M. (2007) ‘On the kinds of research in educational settings’
 in Hammersley, M. (ed) (2007) Educational Research and Evidence-Based Practice, Milton Keynes, The Open University  pp. 141–50

Hammersley, M. (ed) (2007) Educational Research and Evidence-Based Practice, Milton Keynes, The Open University

Lipsett, A. (2008) 'New teachers to follow masters programme', The Guardian [Online], Available at: Accessed on: 7th Oct 2011