Education Methodology: Scarce Use

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Nov 222015

Education Methodology: Scarce Research Use

Education Methodology: Tom McDonald’s response to Larry Cubans article below:

Education Methodology – Thanks Larry for this. It is spot on.

“offer a package of do’s and don’ts for those whose who want evidence-based policymaking. I am on the lookout for such advice but thus far I have come up empty”.

I’ve spent over a decade developing a website (1,000 plus best practices, research validated deep learning posts, 1,000’s more links) that validates evidence based policy making. I’ve promoted it heavily within education, but rarely have I heard wow, this is just what I was looking for:

Education Methodology –

The available evidence and research on proven education methodology is overwhelming, but individuals choose to say it doesn’t exist, due to institution/individual paradigm paralysis:

Education Methodology –

The sad reality is that traditional educators are at most subject matter experts. They rarely are pedagogy experts (21st century learning), nor are they education reform experts. BUT, we listen to them, assuming they are experts beyond their subject matter expertise, thinking that their desire to preserve the ineffective and inefficient one size fits all paradigm, is in the students best interest. When in reality, the current outdated one size fits all methodology, best serves the institution/Staff/faculty, at the direct expense of advancing individual students success outcomes…go figure

The other reality, that is all present, is educators broadcasting the proper approach, but not implementing it: ( “I’m in it for the students”, “the ideal is one teacher per student”, “yes differentiated learning does make a difference in advancing individual student adaptive learning skills” …BUT when you look at how they teach its one size fits all

These are ALL reasons, among many, why education/educators is/are failing our students in droves and why the value of an education is being questioned.

Who really cares about research and education reform in an education environment? The provost, its their job. Can the provost impact the whole organization positively if the leadership has paradigm paralysis? Of course not. So they promote ineffective and inefficient learning under the guise of research validated, education reform. Leaving everyone thinking that they are the experts, have adequately researched what works and are implementing that with the goal of advanced student success outcomes, when in reality little changes.

Then you have outright deceit and deception, from those that know better.
Stanford, Harvard, MIT all knew that the one size fits all MOOC would at best empower some participants with initial understanding, but would never empower participants with adaptive learning skills that would advance individual performance improvement. They rolled MOOCs out as innovative, we drank the cool aid and history has shown that MOOCs are probably less effective than big classroom lecture, which IS NOT effective for individual learning. Oops…I guess Stanford, Harvard, MIT’s credibility in learning methodology has now been eroded.

Especially in publicly funded organizations we should be outraged at this, but we seem to let it slide.

We keep thinking that educators are professionals like mechanical, etc. engineers are professionals and will embrace positive change as part of their profession. The reality is they do not (look at paradigm paralysis) embrace positive change to advance individual student success outcomes…the ONLY reason education exists.

Long story short students = revenue. Take away ALL the students and see what everyones reality is that remains

You want to know, in one place what the research says? Look at these links:

Education Methodology –

Education Methodology –

You want to know what the research says we should be doing? Look here:

You can no longer say you don’t have access to the information. BUT you can still nay say it, criticize the messenger and pretend you are the expert to maintain a failed incumbent methodology


How Small a Part Research Plays in Making and Implementing Educational Policy

by larrycuban

Beliefs, opinions, and politics matter more in making policy decisions than applying research findings to schools and classrooms. A recent Canadian study (1905-8719-1-PB ) confirmed what amounts to a fact in U.S. policymaking. Candadian researchers looked at provincial policy elites (in U.S., they would be state-level decision-makers) and district officials (school board members and superintendents) and found across Canada what is very evident in U.S. districts as well: politics and beliefs trump use of research in adopting policies aimed at improving practice (see here and here).

As one would expect in academic circles, the language of applying research findings to educational policies has expanded. Canadian researchers Gerald Galway and Bruce Sheppard note that new phrases have entered the vocabulary: “knowledge transfer, evidence-informed policy, data-driven decision-making and knowledge brokering, to name a few. Knowledge mobilization (KM) has been touted as a useful all-encompassing term because it conveys the notion of direction instead of random interaction and it ’embodies the idea that the use of knowledge is a social process, not just an intellectual task’ ” (p. 9). Whatever phrase is used in Canada or the U.S., the pattern of applying research findings to forming, adopting, and implementing policies remains similar on both sides of the border.

Galway and Sheppard studied “senior bureaucrats” in provincial ministries and local board trustees and administrators at two points in time, 2006 and 2012. They used surveys, interviews,and focus groups to generate the data they analyzed.

A typical response from  “senior bureaucrats” in provincial ministries about research and policymaking was (M refers to “ministry” official):

M1: I guess that what I find with university research is that those who are doing it
appear to be somewhat removed from the immediacy of it all; it’s not engaged, as it
were, and [university researchers are] somewhat reluctant to engage those who are
involved in a particular issue on a daily basis. That’s being pretty general; that’s not
the case with all university research.

M7: Well, I haven’t had a chance to look at anything [university researchers] are
doing so I really don’t know, but I do find that sometimes, just from past
experiences, that the research coming out of (names university) is not always; well
not the research, but some of the conclusions they draw from their research is not
always applicable….

M2: Well, I don’t really know about it, to be truthful. As I was saying earlier that’s
one of the things that is most surprising to me; that with the amount of research that
is done at the university, how little discussion or impact it’s had on my work as the Minister in this portfolio.

When the researchers turned to trustees–district school board members–survey results and focus group interviews in the 2012 study produced a list of factors that influenced their making of policy.

[W]e presented trustees with 20 potential factors/influences and asked them to
indicate on a seven- point scale, the extent to which each has had an effect on specific decisions or
recommendations that they have made as trustees…. The principal six factors are as follows:
(1) personal or professional beliefs and values,

(2) potential to directly influence student
outcomes/student learning,

(3) advice of district staff and/or colleagues,

(4) the school board’s strategic plan 

(5) past experience.

Trustees and superintendents rated the following six factors as having the least influence on decision-making (my emphasis):

(1) representations of business/private sector,

(2) pressure from special interest or lobby groups,

(3) a situation or event someone told you about,

(4) pressure from government (ministry/department of education),

(5) public opinion/avoidance of negative media attention

(6) university-based research.

Analysis of the data by province showed very little variance in the factors and evidence that influence school board decision-making across jurisdictions.

The Canadian researchers conclude:

We conceptualize use of low research impact partly in terms of trust vs. risk avoidance. In
both policy contexts – provincial departments of education and school boards – we conclude that
decision-making is ambiguous and risky…. [I]n uncertain times, decision-makers value knowledge that is familiar and emerges from their
own community…. This information – now repackaged in the form of staff advice – becomes privileged
and trusted by ministers and senior bureaucrats as authentic knowledge….

Very little found north of the border, then, differs greatly from what U.S. researchers have found in the 50 states (see here, here, and here).

So what?

Education Methodology- Read the Rest of the Article here:


To Discuss how these Solutions will add value for you, your organization and/or your clients, Affinity/Resale Opportunities, and/or Collaborative Efforts, Please Contact:

Tom McDonald,; 608-788-5144; Skype: tsmw5752 education methodology