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Topic: [Hake's] Is "Education Research" "Scientific Research" ? YES!"
Replies: 4   Last Post: Oct 22, 2012 1:48 PM

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GS Chandy

Posts: 8,307
From: Hyderabad, Mumbai/Bangalore, India
Registered: 9/29/05
Re: [Hake's] Is "Education Research" "Scientific Research" ? YES!"
Posted: Oct 22, 2012 1:48 PM
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Clyde Greeno posted Oct 22, 2012 3:56 AM (GSC's comments interspersed):
> GS:
> In my earlier response to Hake's "Yes!", I am truly
> not challenging (or even
> talking about) Boaler or Bishop or Milgram. I am
> disputing the credibility
> of the NRC's Education Center's attempts to defend at
> least some of
> educational research (to date) as being in some way
> "scientific."

As noted, I should get hold of and read that document myself before I make any remarks on it. When I get hold of it, I shall let you know what I think of it - in any case, I would generally accept your judgement on such matters.
> I certainly would not claim that no educational
> research could be genuinely
> scientific research ... for I am personally engaged
> in furthering the
> (managerial) science of mathematics instructology.

As earlier stated, I look forward most keenly to your remarks on the 'One Page Management System' (OPMS), for - in one of its most important (potential) applications - it does intend to promote (enhance), in a very basic, practical - and, I claim, fundamental - way, the effectiveness of the dyad "Teaching + Learning" (T+L).

[I would personally prefer to call it the 'L+T dyad' for it is my strong feeling that the "learning" is the critical member of the dyad. If the desire to learn doesn't exist, then all the teaching in the world will not help. If the desire exists, then learning will happen regardless of the quality of the teaching. No, I do not have empirical or statistical evidence to back this claim].
> But most of what the
> Center would call "scientific educational research"
> is far from scientific.

I accept your better knowledge on this and most such issues.
> The appropriate answer to Hake's question is,
> "Perhaps sometimes, but very rarely."

I generally agree - but I like to would put the affirmative as somewhat more frequent than "rarely". [No, I don't have any numbers available].

I do agree that a fair bit - perhaps even much of - Educational Research (ER) may not pass the test: "Is it scientific?" But we must always remember that education is an attempt to 'reach into' (so to speak) the recesses of the human mind - and we know far too little about the mind to be able to handle questions about it as hard-edged 'science'.

And I believe that we should always keep in mind that, today, it is very unlikely that Leonardo's "Notebooks" and even Isaac Newton's "Principia" would have met many of the formal tests for scientific research. (Not hinting that any of the current ER works in question compare with Leonardo's or Newton's great works!)
> To clarify my meaning for "[My personal skepticism
> about the science-ness of traditional "educational research" precludes my own serious investigations
> into her works.]:
> My personal skepticism does not "disqualify" me
> studying educational
> research ... it disqualifies most of educational from
> warranting my study.
> The latter is precluded simply because I do not have
> the time, energy, or interest to deeply delve into
> "educational research" reports, in order to
> detect whether or how they might somehow fit into
> some scientific theory which is not disclosed by the
> researchers (and probably not even conceived
> by them). Unless the report begins by disclosing the
> scientific theory within which it is reported, it
> cannot be a *scientific* contribution.

> Re. GS's, "... 'scientific theories' that have
> developed NOT through some scientific questions or the > other?)."
> Every scientific theory can be *examined* with regard
> for what "questions" it raises and answers. But I am
> not enough of a historian to know of some
> scientific theory that WAS developed to answer a
> specific question. As far
> as I know, all were developed to explain and/or
> predict phenomena. In my view, that requires far more than raising and answering specific questions
> ... which apparently is what most educational
> researchers try to do. As far as I know, NO theory was developed to answer specific questions. In fact,
> curricular descriptions of "the scientific method"
> are attempts to provide students with an algorithmic process for scientific inquiry ... a bit like
> trying to teach algorithms for solving word-problems.
> Re: " A piece of research does not have to be
> earthshaking in order to be important - and Jo Boaler's
> work might well be important."
> Please re-read! The disclosure of any genuinely
> *scientific theory of
> education* would, indeed, be an earthshaking event.
> Not all scientific findings are earthshaking contributions. Not all important research-findings
> are scientific. Even if hers were found to be
> *important*, that would not
> make them scientifically credible or reliable ... or
> qualify her research as being "scientific."

> Re: " So far as I know, she claims to have
> demonstrated: "...students who
> engage actively in their mathematics learning, rather
> than simply practicing procedures, achieve at higher
> levels".
> FAR too nebulous to qualify even as a scientific
> assertion, ... much less qualifying as a scientific
> fact. "Achieve at higher levels"?#! ... on
> high-risk scholastic tests? What means "levels" ...
> for what kind of "achievements"?#! "Higher" than what
> or whom?

> "Higher" (on what scale)
> than the same students otherwise would have achieved
> through alternative environments/circumstances?
> That would seem to call for one-to-one matching
> of students from rigorously matched instructional
> environments. With that
> kind of ambiguity, educational researchers never will
> be able to scientifically prove anything (and rarely
> even to clearly state it).

Again, I accept your remarks as being realistic and fair. As I'm given to understand, the Bishop/Milgram critique of her work did not do any of this analysis, and seemed to have essentially indulged in personal attacks and character assassination.

As earlier stated, I've not read Jo Boaler's scientific works and have no means of judging their merits. You have provided what appears to me to be excellent reasons for your doubts about her research.
The points raised in your critique seems to indicate, to my mind, that Dr Boaler still has considerable work to do to demonstrate the scientific validity of her findings (assuming these are genuine).

> "Demonstrated?" ... as in demonstrating the meaning
> of some truth? ... a
> near impossibility. "Supports" or "suggests" or "is
> consistent" ... maybe.
> If that assertion seems, to you, to be "obviously
> true" ... then perhaps you
> could try to explain precisely what that assertion
> means ... in 500 pages, or less,

No, I'm not about to try to do that!
> Re: "... most students leave school fearing/loathing
> math; and that (in the
> US or in India) it is entirely to state "I'm useless
> at math!" [while it
> certainly NOT acceptable to state "I am
> illiterate!"].
> Now THAT is a scientific fact ... which can be
> confirmed by repeated studies.

I've not collected any empirical/statistical evidence on these above-noted facts (and don't propose to). There is enough anecdotal evidence to lead us to the supposition that it is, at basis, true - certainly in India; and quite possibly in the US as well.
> There does exist a managerial science of
> assessing attitudes held
> by various populations ... [this is a U.S. election
> year] ... and your
> assertion is a well-defined conclusion about
> relatively well-defined
> concepts. There also is an emerging (MLD) science of
> Mathematics-Learning
> Distress ... within which the same truth has
> substantial significance.

Indeed. And it is such on which all my assertions on OPMS are based. In the field of math learning, I have ONLY ONE case study - of a student who actively worked on his Mission "To understand thoroughly all topics of my math syllabus and THEREBY to improve, very significantly, my results in my math exams, tests, quizzes". That student had never gotten above 45% in math right through his school career; after he developed his OPMS on his above-noted Mission, he started getting above 75% regularly in all his college level exams, tests, quizzes. Now, I would like some active teachers to try out the OPMS - AFTER they have checked it out on Missions for themselves, e.g. such as those I've indicated in the PowerPoint presentation titled, "Some Missions of interest".
> However, your claim does illustrate that some
> assertions can be scientific
> truths, without being discernibly encompassed by an
> evolving scientific theory.

Actually, the late John N. Warfield had worked out, in considerable detail (over several decades), practically all aspects of an encompassing theory. He had published several hundreds of peer-reviewed papers: all are available at the "John N. Warfield Collection" held at the library of George Mason University.

I've not done ANY of the scientific proof of Warfield's theories or developments.

I was just excited by his developments and wanted to apply the tools he had developed to issues that concerned/interested me. I did that, found good results in all cases that I tried, and subsequently developed the concept of the OPMS as an encompassing 'structural description' of EVERYTHING to do in connection with any chosen Mission. I'm not in a position to prove its scientific validity on the terms that you've indicated above - I believe and claim it IS valid, in all cases that I've tried it out. It now remains for others to check it out as a scientific construct, to 'validate' ti at various levels. I propose to continue developing the OPMS further along with ideas and tools that develop out of it.
>In fact, they might conceivably result from
> classical educational
> research.

Indeed they do. But out of the 'systems science' that we claim Warfield developed from what was 'general systems theory'. What the OPMS does is (I claim) enable something that I call 'systems design' on the basis of Warfield's approach to systems science.
> But just as the scientific truth of gravity
> is learned by every
> infant from every species of animals, the learning
> of a scientific truth
> does not make the learning process to be a process of
> scientific research.
> Re: "By the way, I'd love for you to cast your
> skeptical eye on my
> development 'One Page Management System' (OPMS)
> [which has considerable
> significance for, amongst other things, ER - and for
> education as a whole]."
> Gladly ... mostly because the scientific theory of
> mathematics instructology
> is a *managerial* science ... adapted from the
> managerial science of
> operations analysis/research. Our pursuits probably
> overlap at some points.

Whenever you can find the time and interest to do it, please feel free to check it out. I shall always be happy to provide, freely, all details I can.
> At the moment, my plate is too full for that kind of
> diversion. How about
> reminding me in about two months? (:-)

Shall do - say this year end or so...

With kind regards,

(The 'modeling theory' from which which Warfield created his 'systems science' is very briefly outlined at the attached document, "What is Modeling?".

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