Flawed Research

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JIM CURRAN
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Flawed Research

Post by JIM CURRAN » Wed Feb 22, 2006 4:19 pm

“The RRF’s policy and (largely )the dearth of research supporting it are discussed in detail in Appendix B” ( Torgerson et al 2005 page 20 )
We know that there has been considerable problems with reputable research in the field of education. When the National Reading Panel examined the available research in the United States over a thirty year period they were badly handicapped by this lack of reputable research. I would have thought that good research was the job of the Academics. The lack of research can’t be laid at the door of the RRF.
For fifty years Frank Smith, Kenneth Goodman and other academics have produced the most dire and flawed research and nobody said too much about it. Bearing these facts in mind I think that the above comment From Torgerson et al ( 2005 ) are a bit much.

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Susan Godsland
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Post by Susan Godsland » Wed Feb 22, 2006 4:35 pm

In Blumenfeld's book, The Whole Language/OBE Fraud, he has a quote by Prof Patrick Groff where he says 'education periodicals tend not to accept manuscripts that criticize WL '(p85).

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Susan Godsland
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Post by Susan Godsland » Wed Feb 22, 2006 5:03 pm

Research on Child Development:
What We Can Learn from Medical Research

by Judith Rich Harris

(Invited talk given at a meeting of the Children's Roundtable,
Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, September 28, 2000)
Let me begin with a quote from a book on clinical epidemiology by Alvan Feinstein:

In medical science, almost every plausible concept that has been held throughout the centuries about the causes, mechanisms, and treatment of diseases has been either wholly wrong or so deficient that it was later overthrown and supplanted by other concepts. (Feinstein, 1985, p. 409).

The erroneous beliefs were overturned only when medical researchers finally put them to the test, by doing the right experiments. But even when the right experiments are done, it's very difficult to overthrow deeply entrenched beliefs. Quoting Feinstein again,

When the conclusion suggested by the research is compared with the belief held by the reader or by the scientific community, all further aspects of rational analysis may vanish. If the results confirm what we believe, the customary human tendency is to assume that they must be right. The research methods need not be examined closely because there is no need to do so. Having produced the right answer, the methods must also be correct. Conversely, if the results are contrary to what we believe, the research methods must be wrong, no matter how good they seem. . . . The greater or more entrenched the paradigm that is threatened by the research, the more likely is the reader to resist accepting the results and the more likely is the investigator to be assailed not merely for flawed research but also for flawed intellect or character. (Feinstein, 1985, p. 408)

No doubt you can think of examples of this kind of resistance. If not, you're out of luck, because that's not what I'm going to talk about today. I want to talk about the other half of Feinstein's statement: the fact that when data are consistent with deeply entrenched beliefs, the research methods aren't examined closely enough.
http://home.att.net/~xchar/tna/brooking.htm

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Wed Feb 22, 2006 5:41 pm

A wise man indeed!

bwking
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Post by bwking » Wed Feb 22, 2006 11:28 pm

Yes, I'm beginning to appreciate why Jim Rose put his emphasis on the convincing nature of the success of THE PRACTICE in the SP - based teaching in, eg the epochal Clackmannanshire study, in his interim report.

Much as I deprecated his conclusion that the research, even in this study, was 'inconclusive' (I think it was) at the time, now I begin to suspect that he very wisely had absorbed the lessons described in the above message, that even academic research (of necessarily varying quality) can be used selectively to perpetuate even the most ideologically-founded case.

To emphasise the undeniability of the results IN THE CLASSROOM, I think, was both a move of definite scientific probity and of credibility for the Select Committee to fasten on. I believe it is one of the key things that Rose mentioned that we can should try and keep the Committee's attention on.

B.

bwking
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Post by bwking » Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:50 am

I realise that there is a suspicion of paradox about my last message: after all, isn't research supposed to be based on such practice, and its results, in the classroom?

Well, of course, yes it is. Except that:
a) The progressives notoriously have been calling the notes from their dedicated 'kid-watching' from the corner of the classroom, and subjective assessments of teachers collated into a satisfying confirmation of their child-centred theories, 'research' for some three decades at least. And-
b) The quality of research in a pseudo-profession without universal, international standards can vary fatally, and when even reasonably good research is carried off, away from the stone realities of the chalkface, into the processing machine of the academic paper-mill, isn't it always in danger of submersion in the ever-burgeoning paper industry or just plain incomprehending dismissal?

B.

kenm
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Post by kenm » Thu Feb 23, 2006 1:09 am

The relevant books are Karl Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery, which describes how science should be done, and Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which describes what usually happens. A familiar aphorism summarising the second: "Science progresses funeral by funeral". Bright young researchers with novel ideas are necessary but not sufficient. Progress also depends on the removal of people in authority whose reputations were built on errors.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

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Post by bwking » Thu Feb 23, 2006 2:17 am

Yes, indeed Ken: I have the Popper at least, and go with the general idea of paradigm shifts etc.. and especially the removal of offending academics.

I suppose it IS too soon to start building those rustic, homely chalets furnished with country style furniture on the Isle of Wight? :wink:

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g.carter
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Post by g.carter » Thu Feb 23, 2006 9:42 am

Interesting information and discussion.

Much too early to dream of the Shanklin chalets - but there are some legit. fossils on I of Wight, i think? The Dfes has expanded hugely, spending on 'education' has increased by 45% and the NLS team is already planning its roll out of the post-Rose glossy and planning new warehousing, while schools use their building grants to make space for them.

How can the NLS believe that they can produce materials 'by committee' , by those who have brain-washed teachers into Whole Lang, Look and Say, Balance Literature, Personalized Learning, rather than promoting the excellent materials, written by those with years and years observing WHY children fail? Surely teachers are drowning under the weight of paper and directives - why add to their work-load.

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