Jeremy Roschelle, Marianne Bakia, Yukie Toyama & Charles Patton (2011) Eight Issues for Learning Scientists About Education and the Economy, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20:1, 3-49, DOI: 10.1080/10508406.2011.528318
Linking research to a compelling societal interest can build financial commitments to research, bring increased attention to findings, and grow support for scaling up impacts. Among many compelling societal interests that learning scientists can cite—such as increasing the quality of life, preparing citizens to make decisions in a complex world, and enhancing social cohesion among a diverse population—economic competitiveness is a compelling societal interest that resonates broadly among stakeholders. Indeed, it is now somewhat common to introduce learning sciences research, as in the Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences and the U.S. National Education Technology Plan, by citing economic rationales. Despite the utility of evoking a potential link between learning research and economic competitiveness in the minds of broader audiences, learning scientists engage in rather little critical discussion of whether such links are meaningful and empirically sound within their own programs of research. This article seeks both to problematize conventional wisdom about links between learning sciences research and economic growth and to suggest possible directions for future research aimed at discovering stronger links. Because the issues are complex, we do not reach firm conclusions. Rather, this article seeks to spark a discussion within the field.