Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 23, 2004
9.850.1 - 9.850.12
Learning from the NRC report “Scientific Research in Education”
Alisha A. Waller Georgia State University
In 2002, the National Research Council released a report of the Committee on Scientific Principles for Education Research entitled “Scientific Research in Education.” One goal of the committee was to examine and clarify the nature of scientific inquiry in education. They concluded that the following six principles underlie scientific inquiry: 1) pose significant questions that can be investigated empirically; 2) link research to relevant theory; 3) use methods that permit direct investigation of the question; 4) provide a coherent and explicit chain of reasoning; 5) replicate and generalize across studies; and 6) disclose research to encourage professional scrutiny and critique. The report discusses each of these principles and how they may be applied to education research.
In this paper, I explore these principles as applied to education research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. I draw parallels and contrasts with engineering disciplinary research to illustrate the common and unique features of research within the education context. Finally, I offer a preliminary article review guide based on the principles.
During the late 1990s, policy makers and politicians, as well as teachers and parents, demonstrated frustration with education research. Many persons claimed that the results of education research were not helpful for changing classroom practice and the research was not “scientific” enough (NRC, p. 28). Eventually, legislation was proposed that defined controlled experiments as the only rigorous method for conducting education research, with the implication that federal funds should only fund this type of research. In response, the National Research Council (NRC) conducted a study “to examine and clarify the nature of scientific inquiry in education and how the federal government can best foster and support it” (NRC, p. 1). In this paper I will focus on the first goal and leave the consideration of government support to future papers.
The NRC Committee was comprised of a diverse group of education researchers from academia, foundations, and government centers. They spent three years meeting, researching, and discussing the issues. The report, issued in 2002 through the National Academy Press, is intended to encourage discussion, present ideas and examples for consideration, and further understanding of the nature of research in the context of education.
In this paper, I first review the six principles of scientific research laid out in the report, using concrete examples from education research in science, technology, engineering, and
Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education
Waller, A. (2004, June), Learning From The Nrc Report "Scientific Research In Education" Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/12777
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015