Educational research: what do we need to know?

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The Christmas edition of the Economist contained an article called ‘Animal Factory: the evolution of a scientific meaning’.  It was about the difficulties of conducting experiments on laboratory mice.  I learnt that ‘Not all mice are equal, even if their genomes are.’  Two sets of littermates that have been raised apart will respond differently to the same experiment.  Some laboratories only do experiments on male mice, but what works for the gentlemen does not always work for the ladies.  In fact, what works for males in single sex groups, sometimes fails to work for males in mixed sex groups.  Why is it so difficult to reproduce research findings?  In part, because many journal articles omit ‘crucial details’ about the way in which experiments have been conducted.  Carelessness explains some of these omissions.  Sometimes, scientists fail to include information about conditions that are known to be significant.  At other times, information…

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