Classroom teachers are really busy people. It’s often hard enough to keep up with the day to day demands of the classroom, without having to worry about keeping up with the latest research and scientific findings. Any more, it seems as though every product and curriculum out there touts their “research based” foundation. With all the hype about “research based,” “scientifically based” and “results driven,” is it really worth paying attention to it at all? The answer is yes.
An article from the September 2011 issue of the Reading Teacher, 10 Things Every Literacy Educator Should Know About Research (the full PDF is available for free!) distills what educators, including coaches, principals, and specialists should know about research. The authors, Nell Duke and Nicole Martin, also hope to guard against the misuse of research in the classroom.
The very first point in the paper (What Research Can Do) describes how sometimes our own experiences and commonsense thinking lead us to wrong conclusions in our teaching. Carefully designed research can help us recognize different approaches that may result in greater learning than the ones we comfortably use. Researchers also have benefits and access that teachers typically don’t enjoy — for example, researchers can complete extended studies in homes or libraries, and can distill from those experiences information that couldn’t otherwise be gained.
10 Things Every Literacy Educator Should Know About Research also contains a handy note-taking sheet to use when reading a piece of research. Using the guide can help one understand what is and isn’t research. With so much out there to read, it’s good to recognize when something may be more of an opinion piece or a summary of lots of different research. Those types of writing are still valuable; they’re just different than research writing.
So, food for thought. Enjoy the free PDF and let me know what you think of the article!