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Topic: In Defense of the NRC's "Scientific Research in Education'"
Replies: 4   Last Post: Oct 31, 2012 1:41 PM

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Alain Schremmer

Posts: 861
Registered: 10/10/05
Re: In Defense of the NRC's "Scientific Research in Education'"
Posted: Oct 31, 2012 1:41 PM
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On Oct 31, 2012, at 9:37 AM, Susan S wrote:

> The following articles may be particularly relevant to the current
> thought provoking discussion.
> "Propagation of Misinformation About Frequencies of RFTs/RCTs in
> Education: A Cautionary Tale"
> http://edr.sagepub.com/cgi/content/full/41/5/163?ijkey=M7uRdX7PI5G2g&keyty
> pe=ref&siteid=spedr
> "Things (We Now Believe) We Know"
> http://edr.sagepub.com/cgi/content/full/41/5/177?ijkey=7FInHgkj8RK6g&keyty
> pe=ref&siteid=spedr
> warm regards,
> Susan

(1) I do not quite see how so. It seems to me that, as the title
indicates, the article is about "[p]ropagation of misinformation"
rather than about what constitutes "Scientific Research in
Education'". Not to say that this is not important. It is. But I don't
think that this is the point being argued here.

(2) To return to the subject of "Scientific Research in Education'",
it seems to me that there is an inherently huge difficulty in
experimental designs in mathematics education in that the result of
the learning of mathematics can only appear in the learning of further
mathematics. Else we are not talking about mathematics but whatever

And then there is something else about most of the "Scientific
Research in Education'" that I have read that bothers me namely its
total reliance on experimentation. But Physics, and now even
Chemistry, do not rely only on experimentation but, at the very least,
on "common sense" aka theory, that is on statements (logically)
entailed from statements already verified. In fact, these days, it
seems that experimentation is mostly used to verify/falsify statements
made on theoretical bases.

Of course, there are basic statements in physics whose truth can only
be verified by their consequences. The question then is how these
basic statements are chosen in the first place. But none were chosen
out of blind experimentation. Galileo had a pretty good idea of what
he was looking for. And, if the Cern was looking for the Higgs boson,
it was because its existence seemed to appear necessary on logical
grounds. (I say "seems" because the logical entailment in this case is
extraordinarily complicated.). And, yes, Kepler used Tycho Brahe's
data. But it was somewhat of a rare case.

None of the above, though, seems to take place in "Scientific Research
in Education'". For example, it seems to me that to assume that
memorization can play much of a role in the learning of mathematics is
a waste. And to want this to be ascertained only by experimentation is
akin to accepting that eagles can fly better than elephants only after
a few thousands randomly chosen eagles and elephants have been dropped
from randomly chosen heights, 127m, 913m, etc

And, just to make sure, I am not saying that nothing but Bourbaki will
do. The logic to be invoked with students depends on the students, in
particular on what point of their mathematical education they have
reached. Just like how intricate an attorney's reasoning in front of a
jury is going to be depends on how educated the jury is. Which is why,
many times, the jury has to be educated before the case can be made.

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