Possibilities for the use of research in educational practice are often written off due to the history, politics and interests of the ostensibly separate worlds that researchers and practitioners occupy. However, a more optimistic account highlights the ways these communities share a common need for practice-based theories, which enable them to make sense of a wide range of issues in education, including pedagogy, learning, and educational equity.
In applying theory to situated accounts of various educational practices and learning contexts, this book explores mistaken assumptions about the ways that research can ‘inform’ or otherwise impact practice. It problematises a ‘what works’ agenda but also points to potentially more productive research-practice relationships in education. Experienced contributors describe how they have used a variety of context-sensitive theoretical approaches in the socio-cultural and discursive traditions to both understand practice and address a wide range of practical issues in education.
At its core Reframing Educational Research challenges two commonly held assumptions:
- that "best practice" is readily identifiable in a way that is then transferrable to new contexts for use by practitioners more widely, and
- that theory will not help with what to do on Monday morning in the classroom or in developing policies with direct and visible impact.
Drawing on the experience of a number of highly respected expert contributors, including Mel Ainscow, Harry Daniels, Anna Sfard and Etienne Wenger-Trayner, the book discusses a range of issues that must be explicitly addressed if we are to make headway in developing a sustainable and productive relationship between research, policy and practice. The authors make it clear that the politics, policies, institutional practices, market systems and social dynamics currently at play in education have a tendency to derail the idealised pathway from research to reform. This book aims to move the discussion towards alternative, and potentially more fruitful, ways of linking research with practice.
Reframing Educational Research is an invitation to all researchers to identify new opportunities for advancing theory and practice in education. It is a must-read for all practitioners and researchers in education.
Table of Contents
Dialogue One: Using Context Sensitive Theories to Rethink the 'What Works' Research Agenda 1. Narratives of Learning and the Unintended Consequences of Lifelong Learning Policy Sue Webb 2. Using Theory to Understand Policy Distortions in the Context of Performativity and Marketisation Geoff Wake 3. How do Mathematics Teaching Enhancement Programmes ‘Work’? Re-thinking Agency in Regulative Times Yvonne Barnes, Fiona Cockerham, Una Hanley and Yvette Solomon 4. How do you make Doctors? Emma Pearson, Janine Carroll and Tim Dornan 5. Participative Learning in Online Contexts: Focusing on ‘participation’ Erica McAteer, Mary Thorpe and Cormac Lawler Dialogue Two: Engaging With Theory to Make Things Happen 6. Developing more Equitable Education Systems: Reflections on a three-year improvement initiative Mel Ainscow 7. Researching Complex Systems: Developing a language of description Harry Daniels Dialogue Three: Refelcting on Issues in Developing a Practice-Based Research Agenda in Education as a Way Forward 8. The Practice of Theory: Confessions of a social learning theorist Etienne Wenger-Trayner 9. Using Diverse System Perspectives to Develop Policy and Practice in an Answerable Way: The case of dyslexia support in higher education Tim Deignan 10. Not Just So Stories: Practicing radical discursive research for the benefit of educational practice Anna Sfard 11. Research Cannot Define ‘Best Practice’ but it can Offer Tools for Considering ‘Which Practice’: Working through theories of identity and curriculum Valerie Farnsworth 12. Research Knowledge Production and Educational Activity: A ‘research path’ approach Seth Chaiklin Dialogue Four: Cautionary Tales on Research Use, Theory and Practice 13. Policy, Mediation and Practice in Further Education: The contribution of CHAT James Avis 14. Research, Policy and Professional Development: Designing hybrid activities in third spaces Julian Williams and Julie Ryan
Valerie Farnsworth is a Research Fellow at the University of Leeds in the School of Education's post-14 education research group, where she focuses on curriculum studies.
Yvette Solomon is Professor of Education in the Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Professor II in Mathematics Education in the Faculty of Education and International Studies, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences.