Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Good Education Research

An Interview with Frederick Hess: The Education Research We Need; (And why we don't have it)

According to Frederick Hess, good education research is done by everyone except education schools.

That's a great question. Certainly, there is good evidence that upper-tier economics, political science, sociology, and public policy programs are producing PhDs with quantitative skills and methodological sophistication that dramatically surpass those of earlier generations. This has been the pattern of the social sciences for several decades, and nothing has changed on that score. Whether some programs are emphasizing formal theory or econometric training to the degree that fewer graduates may have an aptitude for or interest in field work is a question some have posed. But I don't know that anyone has any good answers to that.

With regard to doctoral level training in education, I'm in no position to pass judgment on the quality of instruction being offered at the hundreds of institutions offering education doctorates. I can say, however, that the education policy work by young scholars that I find most compelling consistently seems to be produced by young scholars trained in the disciplines. Whether that judgment is a product of my own tastes as a reader, self-selection on the part of doctoral candidates, the quality of preparation, or some other factor, I really can't say.
So, if I am reading this right, if I ever want to make a contribution to educational research, I should get a PHD in something other than education.

Disclaimer: Just in case I ever do want to get into an education graduate school and the admissions people do a google and discover this post, I want to say for the record that I only look down on the other education schools... not yours.

Cross Posted at Kitchen Table Math