What Is Scientifically Based Research?

Doug Noon, Borderland, Feb 02, 2009
Commentary by Stephen Downes

As Doug Noon says, this is "another example of how, when you write the rules, accountability is for everyone else." This being a description of the scientific method for teachers, an account that Noon (quite accurately) describes as "like the introduction to a sixth-grade science textbook." Here's where this is relevant: there is a movement, started (as was the Campbell Collaboration) in the health care sector, called knowledge mobilization. This, basically, is the idea of "putting research into practice." It sounds good until you realize that it's a one way relationship; practitioners are merely (willing or unwilling) recipients of (so-called) scientifically based research. Noon asks, "how much weight should be given to teacher observations in instructional decision-making?" The sixth-grade view of science tells us, "none." But real in real science we understand that the controlled experiment is often a very poor approximation of reality, and would never eliminate actual experience form the equation.
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