Educational research

Educational research refers to the systematic collection and analysis of data related to the field of education. Research may involve a variety of methods.[1][2][3] Research may involve various aspects of education including student learning, teaching methods, teacher training, and classroom dynamics.[4]

Educational researchers generally agree that research should be rigorous and systematic.[2][4] However, there is less agreement about specific standards, criteria and research procedures.[1][5] Educational researchers may draw upon a variety of disciplines. These disciplines include psychology, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy.[1][3] Methods may be drawn from a range of disciplines.[3][5] Conclusions drawn from an individual research study may be limited by the characteristics of the participants who were studied and the conditions under which the study was conducted.[3]

Characteristics of educational research

There is no single "correct" way of conducting research in the field of education.

Gary Anderson outlined ten aspects of educational research:[2]

  • Educational research attempts to solve a problem.
  • Research involves gathering new data from primary or first-hand sources or using existing data for a new purpose.
  • Research is based upon observable experience or empirical evidence.
  • Research demands accurate observation and description.
  • Research generally employs carefully designed procedures and rigorous analysis.
  • Research emphasizes the development of generalizations, principles or theories that will help in understanding, prediction and/or control.
  • Research requires expertise—familiarity with the field; competence in methodology; technical skill in collecting and analyzing the data.
  • Research attempts to find an objective, unbiased solution to the problem and takes great pains to validate the procedures employed.
  • Research is a deliberate and unhurried activity which is directional but often refines the problem or questions as the research progresses.
  • Research is carefully recorded and reported to other persons interested in the problem.


There are different approaches to educational research. One is a basic approach.[1] This approach is also referred to as an academic research approach.[2] Another approach is applied research[1] or a contract research approach.[2] These approaches have different purposes which influence the nature of the respective research.

Basic approach

Basic, or academic research focuses on the search for truth[2] or the development of educational theory.[1] Researchers with this background "design studies that can test, refine, modify, or develop theories".[1] Generally, these researchers are affiliated with an academic institution and are performing this research as part of their graduate or doctoral work.

Applied approach

The pursuit of information that can be directly applied to practice is aptly known as applied or contractual research.[1] Researchers in this field are trying to find solutions to existing educational problems. The approach is much more utilitarian as it strives to find information that will directly influence practice.[2] Applied researchers are commissioned by a sponsor and are responsible for addressing the needs presented by this employer.[2] The goal of this research is "to determine the applicability of educational theory and principles by testing hypotheses within specific settings".[1]

Comparison of basic and applied research

The following are several defining characteristics that were written by Gary Anderson to compare basic (academic) and applied (contract) research.[2]

Basic (Academic) Research Applied (Contract) Research
1 Is sponsored by an agency committed to the general advancement of knowledge. Is sponsored by an agency with a vested interest in the results.
2 Results are the property of society and the research community. Results become the property of the sponsor.
3 Studies rely on the established reputations of the researchers and are totally under their control. Studies follow explicit terms of reference developed by the sponsor to serve the sponsor's needs.
4 Budget allocations are generally based on global proposals and accounting is left to the researchers. Budget accountability is directly related to the sponsor and relates to agreed terms of reference, time frames and methodologies.
5 The conduct of research is based on 'good faith' between funder and researcher. The work is contractual between sponsor and researcher.
6 The research produces findings and conclusions, but rarely recommendations except those related to further research needs. The research includes applied recommendations for action.
7 Academic research tends to extend an identifiable scholarly discipline. By its nature, contract research tends to be interdisciplinary.
8 Academic research is typically focused on a single set of testable hypotheses. Contract research frequently analyzes the consequences of alternative policy options.
9 Decision-rules relate to theoretically-based tests of statistical significance. Decision-rules relate to predetermined conventions and agreements between the sponsor and the researcher.
10 Research reports are targeted to other specialized researchers in the same field. Research reports are intended to be read and understood by lay persons.


The basis for educational research is the scientific method.[1] The scientific method uses directed questions and manipulation of variables to systematically find information about the teaching and learning process.[1] In this scenario questions are answered by the analysis of data that is collected specifically for the purpose of answering these questions.[2] Hypotheses are written and subsequently proved or disproved by data which leads to the creation of new hypotheses. The two main types of data that are used under this method are qualitative and quantitative.[1][5][6]

Qualitative research

Qualitative research uses the data which is descriptive in nature. Tools that educational researchers use in collecting qualitative data include: observations, conducting interviews, conducting document analysis, and analyzing participant products such as journals, diaries, images or blogs.[1]

Types of qualitative research

Quantitative research

Quantitative research uses data that is numerical and is based on the assumption that the numbers will describe a single reality.[1] Statistics are often applied to find relationships between variables.

Types of quantitative research

Combination methods

There also exists a new school of thought that these derivatives of the scientific method are far too reductionistic in nature.[5] Since educational research includes other disciplines such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, science, and philosophy[1][3] and refers to work done in a wide variety of contexts[3] it is proposed that researchers should use "multiple research approaches and theoretical constructs."[5] This could mean using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods as well as common methodology from the fields mentioned above. In social research this phenomenon is referred to as triangulation (social science).[7] This idea is well summarized by the work of Barrow in his text An introduction to philosophy of education:

Since educational issues are of many different kinds and logical types, it is to be expected that quite different types of research should be brought into play on different occasions. The question therefore is not whether research into teaching should be conducted by means of quantitative measures (on some such grounds as that they are more 'objective') or qualitative measures (on some such grounds as that they are more 'insightful'), but what kind of research can sensibly be utilized to look into this particular aspect of teaching as opposed to that.[8]

Types of combined methods

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Lodico, Marguerite G.; Spaulding, Dean T.; Voegtle, Katherine H. (2010). Methods in Educational Research: From Theory to Practice. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-470-58869-7.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Anderson, Garry; Arsenault, Nancy (1998). Fundamentals of Educational Research. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-203-97822-1.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Yates, Lyn (2004). What Does Good Educational Research Look Like?: Situating a Field and Its Practices. Conducting Educational Research. McGraw-Hill International. ISBN 978-0-335-21199-9.
  4. ^ a b "IAR: Glossary. (n.d.)". Instructional Assessment Resources. University of Texas at Austin. 21 September 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e Kincheloe, Joe (2004). Rigour and Complexity in Educational Research. McGraw-Hill International. ISBN 978-0-335-22604-7.
  6. ^ Scott, David; Usher, Robin (2002) [1996]. Understanding Educational Research. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-203-13192-3.
  7. ^ Gorard, Stephen; Taylor, Chris (2004). Combining Methods in Educational and Social Research. McGraw-Hill International. ISBN 978-0-335-22517-0.
  8. ^ Woods, Ronald; Barrow, Robin (2006). An Introduction to Philosophy of Education. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-203-96995-3.
  9. ^ Brown, B., Dressler, R., Eaton, S. E., & Jacobsen, D. M. (2015). Practicing what we teach: Using action research to learn about teaching action research. Canadian Journal of Action Research, 16(3), 60-77. Retrieved from
  10. ^ Hendricks, Cher (2016). Improving schools through Action Research: A reflective practice approach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
  11. ^ McNiff, Jean (2016). You and your action research project. London, UK: Routledge.

Further reading

American Educational Research Association

The American Educational Research Association, or AERA ("A-E-R-A"), is a professional organization representing education researchers in the United States and around the world. As a nonprofit serving the education research field, AERA strives to advance knowledge about education and promote the use of research in practice.

Australian Council for Educational Research

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), established in 1930, is an independent educational research organisation based in Camberwell, Victoria and with offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Dubai, London, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi. ACER provides learning tools for students, develops and manages a range of testing and assessment services and conducts research and analysis in the education sector.

British Educational Research Association

The British Educational Research Association (BERA) is a member-led charity to encourage educational research and its application for the improvement of practice and public benefit.

It is an association promoting a researching culture within the academic field, and shaping guidance on policy and practice within the field.They provide a forum for academic discussion through holding conferences, disseminating material, publishing current research, and designating awards for research. The association is open to researchers from any discipline. Their publications have become a well known fixture for educational research, and provide an interdisciplinary approach that includes:"reports of experiments and surveys, discussions of conceptual and methodological issues and of underlying assumptions in educational research, accounts of research in progress, and book reviews."It is governed by an elected Council with its President serving a two-year term. It is run on a daily basis by a permanent office staff, headed by Nick Johnson.


A disposition is a quality of character, a habit, a preparation, a state of readiness, or a tendency to act in a specified way that may be learned.

The terms dispositional belief and occurrent belief refer, in the former case, to a belief that is held in the mind but not currently being considered, and in the latter case, to a belief that is currently being considered by the mind.

In Bourdieu's theory of fields, dispositions are the natural tendencies of each individual to take on a specific position in any field. There is no strict determinism through one's dispositions. The habitus is the choice of positions according to one's dispositions. However, in retrospect a space of possibles can always be observed.

A disposition is not a process or event in some duration in time, but rather the state, preparation, or tendency of a structure "in waiting". In the field of possibilities its actual triggering has a statistical value.

Dr. M.G.R. Educational and Research Institute

Dr. M.G.R. Educational and Research Institute is an institution deemed to be university located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. It received its deemed to be university status in 2003.

Green Crescent Trust

Green Crescent Trust (GCT) is a non-profit organization in Sindh, Pakistan that focuses on education and development. It was established in 1995 by group of people with just one goal: making a better Pakistan through education. It started out with just one school and handful of students in Karachi.

Today, GCT aims to making schools a reality for deserving children in underprivileged areas of Sindh. It has expanded their schools network making them more accessible to these children.

Institute of Education Sciences

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the independent, non-partisan statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. IES' stated mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public. It was created as part of the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002.

The first director of IES was Grover Whitehurst, who was appointed in November 2002 and served for six years. Dr. Mark Schneider is currently the Director of IES.IES is divided into four major research and statistics centers:

National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE)—NCEE conducts large-scale evaluations and provides research-based technical assistance and information about high-quality research to educators and policymakers in a variety of different formats. NCEE’s work includes evaluations of education programs and practices supported by federal funds; the Regional Educational Laboratory Program; the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC); the What Works Clearinghouse; and the National Library of Education. Dr. Matthew Soldner is the Commissioner of NCEE.

National Center for Education Research (NCER)—NCER supports research to improve student outcomes and education quality in the United States and pursue workable solutions to the challenges faced by educators and the education community. NCER also supports training programs to prepare researchers to conduct high quality, scientific education research. Dr. Elizabeth Albro is the Commissioner of NCER.

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)—NCES is the primary federal entity that collects and analyzes data related to education in the United States and other nations. Among the programs and initiatives that NCES oversees is the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Dr. James Lynn Woodworth is the Commissioner of NCES.

National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER)—NCSER sponsors and supports comprehensive research that is designed to expand the knowledge and understanding of infants, toddlers, and children with disabilities, or those who are at risk of developing disabilities. NCSER also supports training programs to prepare researchers to conduct high quality, scientific special education research. Dr. Joan E. McLaughlin is the commissioner of NCSER.

Labour India

Labour India Publications Limited is an educational publisher based in Marangattupally, Kottayam, Kerala, India. It publishes educational monthly journals in three languages, for students of pre-primary level to Plus Two level and entrance exams.

It plans to formulate an educational curriculum of international standard and publishes textbooks and educational journals. It is an ISO 9001:2000 certified company.

Lincoln, New Zealand

Lincoln is a town in the Selwyn District, in the Canterbury Region of New Zealand's South Island. The town is located on the Canterbury Plains to the west of Banks Peninsula, 22 kilometres southwest of Christchurch. The town has a population of 6,100 (June 2018), making it the second largest town in the Selwyn District behind nearby Rolleston.

Lincoln is a satellite town of Christchurch; at the 2006 Census, 53% of employed Lincoln residents worked in the city. The town is home to Lincoln University, the oldest agricultural tertiary institution in the Southern Hemisphere and the smallest of New Zealand's eight universities.

National Council for Teacher Education

National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) is a statutory body of Indian government set up under the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993 (#73, 1993) in 1995 is to formally oversee standards, procedures and processes in the Indian education system.

This council functions for the central as well as state governments on all matter with regard to the Teacher Education and its secretariat is located in the Department of Teacher Education and National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). Despite the successful functioning in terms of educational field, it is facing difficulties in ensuring the maintenance of the standards of teacher education and preventing the increase in the number of substandard teacher education institutions in the country.

National Council of Educational Research and Training

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is an autonomous organisation of the Government of India which was established on 1 September 1961 as a literary, scientific and charitable Society under the Societies' Registration Act (Act XXI of 1860). Its headquarters are located at Sri Aurbindo Marg in New Delhi. Dr. Hrushikesh Senapaty is director of the council since September 2015.

National Foundation for Educational Research

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) was founded in 1946 as a centre for educational research and development in England and Wales. NFER's head office is located at 'The Mere' in Slough, Berkshire, England. The foundation also has offices in Swansea and York.

The foundation's work includes educational research, evaluation of education and training programmes, and the development of assessments and specialist information services. The NFER also sponsors the CERUKplus (Current Educational Research in the UK) database, which contains details of current or on-going research in education and related disciplines, and hosts the EURYDICE Unit for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, in EURYDICE, the information network on education in Europe (

The NFER founded nferNelson, which they sold to the Granada Learning/GL assessments for the 11+ and other common entrance exams Group in 2000.

Pakistan Educational Research Network

The Pakistan Education and Research Network (PERN) connects universities and research institutes through high-speed Internet bandwidth. The main purpose of this network is to facilitate researchers/students in sharing data and to coordinate with each other though video conferencing.

Currently 60(Pakistani) educational institutes are interconnected; in the future the PERN-II project would further include 59 other educational institutes national-wide at speeds of up to 10 Gbps.

Plavelil Shanku Pillai Memorial Upper Primary School

Plavelil Shanku Pillai Memorial Upper Primary School (PSPMUPS), Madappally is an Upper Primary School Situated in Madappally, a ward in Chavara gramapanchyat, Kerala, India. The school is affiliated to The State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), Kerala. The school has classes from 1st standard to 7th standard.

Postgraduate research

Postgraduate research represents a formal area of study that is recognized by a university or institute of higher learning. By definition, the notion of “postgraduate” (United States) carries the implication that the candidate undertaking such research has already completed a formal Master's degree and at some instances the PhD, at an accredited university or tertiary institution. The resulting qualifications arising from postgraduate research leads to Post (Doctorates).


Psychometrics is a field of study concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement. As defined by the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME), psychometrics refers to psychological measurement. Generally, it refers to the field in psychology and education that is devoted to testing, measurement, assessment, and related activities.The field is concerned with the objective measurement of skills and knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits, and educational achievement. Some psychometric researchers focus on the construction and validation of assessment instruments such as questionnaires, tests, raters' judgments, and personality tests. Others focus on research relating to measurement theory (e.g., item response theory; intraclass correlation).

Practitioners are described as psychometricians. Psychometricians usually possess a specific qualification, and most are psychologists with advanced graduate training. In addition to traditional academic institutions, many psychometricians work for the government or in human resources departments. Others specialize as learning and development professionals.

Single-sex education

Single-sex education, also known as single-gender education and gender-isolated education, is the practice of conducting education with male and female students attending separate classes, perhaps in separate buildings or schools. The practice was common before the 20th century, particularly in secondary and higher education. Single-sex education in many cultures is advocated on the basis of tradition as well as religion, and is practiced in many parts of the world. Recently, there has been a surge of interest and establishment of single-sex schools due to educational research. Single-sex education is practiced in many Muslim majority countries; while in the West it is most popular in Chile, Israel, South Korea, and English-speaking countries such as Singapore, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Australia. In the Western world, single sex education is primarily associated with the private sector, with the public (state) sector being overwhelmingly mixed sex; while in the Muslim world the situation is the opposite: public schools are usually single sex, while many private schools are mixed sex. Motivations for single sex education range from religious ideas of sex segregation to beliefs that the sexes learn and behave differently, and, as such, they thrive in a single sex environment. In the 19th century, in Western countries, single sex girls' finishing schools, and women's colleges offered women a chance of education at a time when they were denied access to mainstream educational institutions. The former were especially common in Switzerland, the latter in the US and the UK, which were pioneers in women's education.

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study

The IEA's Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is a series of international assessments of the mathematics and science knowledge of students around the world. The participating students come from a diverse set of educational systems (countries or regional jurisdictions of countries) in terms of economic development, geographical location, and population size. In each of the participating educational systems, a minimum of 4,500 to 5,000 students is evaluated. Contextual data about the conditions in which participating students learn mathematics and science are collected from the students and their teachers, their principals, and their parents via questionnaires.TIMSS is one of the studies established by IEA aimed at allowing educational systems worldwide to compare students' educational achievement and learn from the experiences of others in designing effective education policy. This assessment was first conducted in 1995, and has been administered every four years thereafter. Therefore, some of the participating educational systems have trend data across assessments from 1995 to 2015. TIMSS assesses 4th and 8th grade students, while TIMSS Advanced assesses students in the final year of secondary school in advanced mathematics and physics.

Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education

The Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) was established in 2001 on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus by former UW–Madison Chancellor David Ward.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.