Are education school profs observing teachers and students in classrooms?
02/01/2013We welcome this guest post by Dr. Robert Presbie, an indefatigable advocate for improved teacher training.
It seems reasonable that in order to effectively and efficiently improve education, education researchers should directly observe teachers and students.
Why? First, to see what teachers are actually doing, and second, to see how particular systematic changes in teachers' teaching affect students' academic and social behaviors.
The essence of any experimental science is "controlled observation." This is true in medicine, chemistry, physics, and biology. It is also true in any other area of study in which one wants to find out what is going on, and what variables are related to the phenomena one is studying. Education is no exception.
Unfortunately, education has been handled as an exception. This is readily seen by looking at ed school websites. Examining the lists of "representative publications" that faculty profiles often include gives a good picture of what kind of research professors of education are publishing.
Here's some data from three prominent schools of education:
Only 16 of the 1,928 publications described experiments done within actual classrooms. The other 12 experimental studies were done outside of the classroom in laboratories.
Imagine what the state of education would be if ALL of those 1,928 publications reported on classroom-based research, all with the purpose of improving the academic and social behaviors of students. Imagine further if this were being done by all of the other education professors in the OVER 1,400 schools of education across the country.
Ivan Pavlov, who won a Nobel Prize in medicine, had this inscription put over the doorway of the laboratory he built to conduct experiments on learning:
OBSERVATION AND OBSERVATION
If schools of education put this inscription over their doorways too, students, teachers, and the teaching profession would be the immediate beneficiaries.