Integrating Educational Research Practice: Reconceptualizing Goals And Policies: How To Make What Works, Work For Us?


Sabelli, N., & Dede, C. (2001, July). Integrating educational research practice: Reconceptualizing goals and policies: How to make what works, work for us?


This article proposes reconceptualizing most current education research programs to more effectively promote the integrated co-development of scholarship, practice, and policy. In our analysis, we explicate the strategies underlying exemplary funding programs such as the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) “Research on Learning and Education” (ROLE)2 , and the federal Interagency Educational Research Initiative (IERI)3 , co-sponsored by NSF, the U.S. Department of Education (DoED), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). From this analysis, we draw implications for the further evolution of funding strategies that emphasize a scholarship of practice rather than scholarship on practice.

This perspective on research funding and policy is based in part on our experiences while Senior Program Officers in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources of the National Science Foundation, where we helped conceptualize and direct a number of peer-reviewed funding programs on education research in science, mathematics, and technology. Our collective experience includes work on instruction and policy, learning and intelligent systems, applications of advanced technologies, networking infrastructures in education, and more recently what can be termed “the sciences of learning.”

There is general agreement that effective practice is based on the reflective application and adaptation of research. In turn, practice that includes principled experimentation can raise critical questions to be answered by research. This feedback loop can create a sustainable strategy for innovation in the nation’s education enterprise. However, a recent NRC report4 on education research observed that transfer of scholarship into practice is “a last frontier,” despite the fact that the application of research is paramount for moving education reform from transitory fads to proven strategies. Similar concerns were voiced earlier in the 1997 PCAST5 report on the use of research in learning technologies to strengthen U.S. education. Both these reports cite an urgent need for researchers to foster a transformative school culture centered on sustainable, scaleable, high quality educational practices of value to all students.

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