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Topic: In Defense of the NRC's "Scientific Research in Education'"
Replies: 1   Last Post: Oct 27, 2012 11:45 AM

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Alain Schremmer

Posts: 876
Registered: 10/10/05
Re: In Defense of the NRC's "Scientific Research in Education'"
Posted: Oct 27, 2012 11:45 AM
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On Oct 26, 2012, at 11:09 PM, Richard Hake wrote:

> Some subscribers to MathEdCC might be interested in a recent post
> "In Defense of the NRC's 'Scientific Research in Education' " [Hake
> (2012)]. The abstract reads:
> ********************************************
> ABSTRACT: In my post "Is 'Education Research' 'Scientific
> Research' ? YES!" [Hake (2012)] at <> I listed
> the *one-line headings* of the "six guiding principles that underlie
> all scientific inquiry (including education research)" as set down
> in the Executive Summary of the NRC's "Scientific Research in
> Education" [Shavelson & Towne (2002)] at <>.
> In response, Math Education Guru <> Clyde Greeno
> (2012) at <> denounced the six principles as
> "glibly superficial and badly unknowing about the nature of
> science," on the basis of their one-line headings, evidently not
> bothering to scan the book "Scientific Research in Education" or
> even the paragraph-long elaborations of the six principles in the
> Executive Summary. In this post I juxtapose for each of NRC's six
> one-line headings (a) Greeno's criticism, and (b) NRC's one-
> paragraph elaboration, and invite readers to judge the validity of
> Greeno' criticisms. Greeno ended his critique with: (a) "I am amazed
> that the NRC would allow such a publication," and (b) "[The World
> is] more than anxious to learn of whatever educational research
> efforts qualify as being genuinely 'scientific.' "
> Regarding (a) above, I am amazed that Greeno would denounce the
> NRC's six guiding principles on the basis of what he (often
> mistakenly) perceives them to mean from their one-line headings.
> Regarding (b) above, he and other skeptics might consider scanning:
> (1)"The future of physics education research: Intellectual
> challenges and practical concerns" [Heron & Meltzer (2005)] at <

> >; (2) "A Developmental History of Physics Education
> Research" [Cummings (2011) at <>; (3) "The
> Impact of Concept Inventories On Physics Education and It's
> Relevance For Engineering Education" [Hake (2011a)] at <

> > (8.7 MB); and (4) and "Resource Letter ALIP-1: Active-Learning
> Instruction in Physics" [Meltzer & Thornton (2012)] at <
> >.

(1) I am not too sure about what the discussion is about. Is it the
possibility of future "scientific" research in education or is it the
statement that there already is valid "scientific" research in
education? It seems to me that the NRC argues for the first one.

(2) But then there remains an ambiguity as to whether: i. the
research attempts to assess the state of an educational system, or
possibly part thereof, as in Box 5-2 College Women?s Career Choices
and BOX 5-3Teacher Salaries and Student or ii. the research attempts
to understand the learning process as in BOX 5-5 Elementary School
Students and Ratio and Proportion.

(3) What I find unfortunate is that the NRC does not seem to define
what it means by what I would refer "learning mathematics". Note that
BOX 5-5 Elementary School Students and Ratio and Proportion is wide
open to Bishop, Clopton and Milgram's summary of their Appendix 4:

"...They seem to believe that teaching students to handle (elementary)
Putnam style challenge problems is training them in mathematics and
problem solving. ... However,people with a larger grasp of the subject
realize that mathematics is incremental, and that solving a problem
like this at fourth grade level does not lead to deeper insight ..."

(4) I stand with Dewey, as quoted on page 123
We know that some methods of inquiry are better than others in just
the same way in which we know that some methods of surgery, arming,
road-making, navigating, or what-not are better than others. It does
not follow in any of these cases that the ?better? methods are ideally
perfect?We ascertain how and why certain means and agencies have
provided warrantably assertible conclusions, while others have not and
cannot do so (Dewey, 1938, p. 104, italics in original).

(5) However, nowhere did I find in the NRC specifics as to the value
of what is currently offered as research in the "learning of
mathematics--or of physics".

This being said, I have much respect for Hake---as I have for Greeno---
and, to reiterate, do not understand what the quarrel is about.


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