Gutierrez & Penuel 2013 Relevance to practice as a criterion for rigor

Gutierrez, K. D., & Penuel, W. R. (2013). Relevance to practice as a criterion for rigor. Educational Researcher, 43(1), 19-23.

Summary: In this special issue of Educational Researcher, the editors invited authors to write commentaries about what counts in educational research. In this article, the authors argue that relevance to practice is and should be a criterion for educational researcher. In particular, they note how research on innovations fail to be generalizable because of a lack of attention and understanding to the contextuality in which the studies were situated. They also argue for practitioners to have a role in the research and that research designs need to be collaborative. This collaboration involves negotiation. They claim that including relevance to practice as a criterion "can ensure the longevity and efficacy of educational research" (p. 19).

Important Quotations:

  • "As we (Erickson & Gutierrez, 2002) aruged then, rigor in studies that aim to draw causal inferencs about policies, programs, and practices requries in-depth qualitative research. In partiuclar, scientifically rigorous research on what works in education requires sustained, direct, and systematic documentation of what takes place inside programs to document not only 'what happens' (cf. National Research Council, 2002) but also how students and teachers change and adapt interventions in interactions with each other in relation to their dynamic local contexts" (p. 19).
  • Educational research needs to include questions about transforming practice.
  • "Studies of 'what works' should be concerned with the specific mechanisms by which outcomes for teachers and students are accomplished within specific structural and ecological circumstances" (p. 19).
  • "For us, consequential research on meaningful and equitable educational change requires a focus on persistent problems of practice, xamined in their context of development, with attention to ecological resources and constratings, including why, how, and under what conditions programs nad policies work" (p. 19).
  • "For these new programs sto be successful, relevance to practice must be an explicit criterion for judging the quality of research proposals. For example, there should be documentation that the problem fo focus is percieved by multiople stakeholders to be significant, persistent, and worthy of investigation. Standards must also require researchs to provide evidence that they have engaged in a process to surface and negotiate the focus of their joint work, and to document the ways particiaption in this process was structured to include district and school leaders, teachers, parents, community stakeholders, and, wherever possible, children and youth" (p. 20).
  • "The programs that researchers initially think important to address are not likely to be the same ones that diverse education stakeholders perceive as important. What is needed are specific methodologies for bringing relevant stakeholders together and deliberating about the problems that can and shoould be addressed thorugh research and devleopment projects" (p. 20).
  • "As education researchers committed to studying persistent problems of practice, we step into the messiness and uncertainty that problem-oriented work and rigorous scientific inquiry requires" (p. 20).
  • "Studying 'side by side' with research partners jointly engaged in work to transform systems is more likely to produce more sensitive and robust measurement and ecologically valid accounts of cultural production and institutional change" (p. 20).
  • "What is a partnership if the research plan is full predefined by researchers?" (p. 21).