Review: The Impact of Research in Education (Research Matters, December 2015)

Research Matters Review – The Impact of Research in Education: An International Perspective (2013)

The Impact of Research in Education: An International Perspective sets out its central thesis clearly. Educational research is underfunded, poorly disseminated and lacking relevance to everyday practice. The work offers a comparative, international approach to a global problem. The contributors, including educational researchers in both universities and the public sector, unanimously declare that research must be rigorous, relevant, and understandable to teachers. By analysing policy interventions and organisations, the authors suggest a range of ways in which this might be achieved.

Given the solidarity the contributing authors show in prescribing similar solutions for similar shortcomings, the work can seem repetitive. The stronger chapters, however, offer original research, cover varied topics and use novel approaches. One such effort is Ilon’s chapter on South Korean educational research mobilisation. Its vast appraisal of lifelong learning and vocational training is refreshing and engaging. Read, Cooper, Edelstein, Sohn and Levin’s contribution offers original research into the ‘knowledge mobilisation’ (KM) practices of Canadian universities. KM is defined as ‘moving knowledge into active service for the broadest possible common good.’ The authors found that educational researchers in Canadian universities were ‘divided’ about whether KM was valuable at all. Only 3% used blogs to publicise their research, and 2% used social media.

The comprehensiveness of the work can come at the expense of clarity. The weaker chapters feature oblique, overlong sentences. Occasionally, the statistics used lack justification. Holm’s contribution tells us that 386 ‘person-years’ have been spent on educational research in Denmark, but offers no comparison with other fields to help the reader understand the real significance of this figure.

The conclusion pulls together the salient points of all chapters, and argues for credible, context-sensitive research involving partnerships with teachers. This sober, reflective book would be valuable for new educational researchers concerned with the impact of their work.