Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Theoretically Critical Necessity

My graduate research class began yesterday; not so surprisingly, there's a lot of writing. I'm including some of the forum posts here.

In your initial post, explore the need for conducting educational and workplace research. Use specific examples from Suter and Bouma to explain:
  1. why research is necessary
  2. what we gain if scientific research is paired with personal experience
  3. how research can produce knowledge
  4. why we should do research
Bring in your current or past research ideas, specifically focusing on how your research fits (or does not fit) the principles explained by Suter and Bouma.

According to Suter and Bouma, research is necessary for a number of reasons: It leads to an enhanced ability "to understand published educational research" and leads to effective communication with other “educational practitioners.” Furthermore, sharing ideas about research findings – and the research findings themselves, presumably – leads to the development of critical reflection and the understanding thereof (Suter 3). Suter argues that education is enhanced by research at least in part of the assumed collaborative nature of the sharing of educational research; Suter argues that teachers, and others involved in education, “become most effective when their skills and classroom wisdom are combined with their knowledge of educational research” (Suter 4). In other words, the educational practitioners to whom Suter refers – and he means to include “those ultimately responsible for improving learning in the classrooms” – benefit from educational research because this research can then be applied to the classroom, making the theoretical practically applicable.

Bouma introduces the practical meaning of the definition of science, noting that scientific research is done “to test ideas about the nature and operation of some aspect of the universe” (Bouma 6). This could be directly related to educational research that is tied directly to that done in the classroom, especially if classroom teaching is the basis for educational research. Research, in this vein examines the “nature and operation” of pedagogical practices that occur in the classroom, which leads to an examination and awareness of effective teaching strategies, which in turn might lead to further research of pedagogical practices. Bouma’s list of the research process could be helpful while trying to establish valuable research strategies, especially in terms of focusing on patterns of learning and instruction (Bouma 7). This reminded me of one of the concepts taught in one of my undergraduate teaching methods classes, in which we analyzed effective scaffolding strategies that could be implemented in the classroom. Both research and teaching practices need to be structured in such a way that demonstrates causality: Research needs to be outlined in such a manner that establishes the question; steps are necessary in order “to learn the necessary skills involved in research and to avoid many of the major pitfalls” (Bouma 7). Similarly, scaffolding builds upon previously taught knowledge and allows teachers to introduce and teach more complex skills.

I'm still trying to develop my own research topic ideas, so I'm finding it difficult to apply my nonexistent ideas to those of Suter's and Bouma's. I’m interested in writing centers and their development, as well as the related pedagogical practices between writing center tutoring and first year composition classes. Similarly, I’m interested in the relationship between secondary English pedagogy and first year composition, as well as the possibility of establishing more writing centers at the secondary level, and the problems that come with that. Perhaps that’s something to focus on – the problems in establishing writing centers at the secondary level. Bouma’s “Selecting a Problem” made me think that perhaps the only way to do research is to be able to identify the problem, but something with which I struggle is what happens when one can’t identify a problem. I’m uncertain as to how one goes about identifying a problem; it seems to come easy to some, but the problems in establishing secondary writing centers was the only one I could think of. Nevertheless, it was helpful to read Bouma’s suggestions in how to narrow and clarify a problem, and some of his questions provided a basis for potential future research.

Works Cited 
Bouma, Gary D. "Research as a Way of Knowing." The Research Process. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Print. 
Suter, W. Newton. "Educators as Critical Thinkers." Introduction to Educational Research: A Critical Thinking Approach. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2006. Print.

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