How Research Doesn’t Account for Context


“Change the context, and it may or may not be a different result, but much research doesn’t look at that. Could it be, for example, that an intervention of a different context has drastic changes on the well-being of such people later in life? There are countless studies to show the impact of a nurturing versus toxic environment on people’s development. In other words, the studies treat the overall school structure as a constant. As such, it would be helpful to have more studies that look at how a given demographic of student fares in different contexts.

…In other words, much modern educational research has a classroom or traditional school limitation. Most do not look at what would happen if you put students in a completely different learning context, or when they do, there are many studies that are measuring success or performance using traditional schooling assessments.

…The easiest measures are not the best ones. Yet, the use of tests is also a problem with many modern debates about the performance or under-performance of various magnet and charter schools. These schools are sometimes designed to nurture different competencies, but people are too often judging the school with traditional tests that measure or emphasize something else. We too often don’t use robust and multi-faceted measures that provide a full picture of what a given school tends to do both well and poorly.”

—Bernard Bull, “The Hidden Truth [Weak Link] in Most Education Research Today” on his blog Etale

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