Some more thoughts on educational research

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Last week, I wrote about the difficulties of educational research, and why we need more information on the circumstances in which research has been conducted.  After I had written that article, Daisy (Christodoulou) pointed out that E.D. Hirsch makes a related point in his article ‘Classroom results and cargo cults’.  Hirsch discusses a study which seemed to show that reducing class size improved educational outcomes for early years students and decreased the achievement gap between students from higher and lower income families.  The study prompted policymakers in California to spend $5 billion dollars on reducing class sizes in their state. Despite the injection of funds and the apparent evidence that reducing class size worked, the results in California were disappointing.  Hirsch argues that the reason that they were disappointing was because the researchers who undertook the original study did not provide a ‘theoretical interpretation of [their] own findings’.  They did…

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