professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Please, Mr. (or Ms.) Poster

May I please make a plea to those who post something without vetting it? Not the posts about FREE Sharpies. Those are easily dismissed via Snopes. No, I am talking about those who post and repost the latest "facts" in education without considering the source and the research.

For example, there was a post recently about a new study on homework. This study suggested that self-reported data, which has been (according to the source) a staple of such research, might be somehow an incorrect method of collecting data. Well, aside from a big, "No kidding," there are some other problems with the research: it was done with college students. And while the source notes this, I think the rest of us need to take this with more than a grain of salt. Let's consider this a salt mine, please.

There is far too much research out there being applied to PK-12 students which is anchored in research done with undergraduate and even graduate students. We need to go to the source and see who exactly the subjects are. And while we are at it, let's look at the "n" as well. How many were in the study?. Was it descriptive or experimental in design? What about the control group? What parameters were set? Was this replicated in any way? Or piloted? Or validated? Are causal conclusions being reached when correlational data should be reported alone? There is much too much research out there that needs more scrutiny.

This is not to dismiss action research from the classroom. These questions needs to be answered for those studies that then assert that a certain approach is "guaranteed" in some way shape or form. I have 25+ years of reading autobiographies which suggest some commonalities among those who identify as readers: choice, time, being read aloud to, having easy access to books, have role models at home and school. I can see these elements in students from small towns, from urban and suburban neighborhoods, and across cultures and ages and gender.

I have this information, and I use it to guide some of my writing. Do I claim to have the one true answer? Nope. Can I transform this into a program or a kit? I would not even consider doing that, but NOPE. But it is some information to keep in mind as I am writing and planning for classes.

I see all manner of posts about favorite books, most circulated and requested books. This is useful when I am trying to get a handle on books kids gravitate toward. It lets me see trends in books and reading if I can gather this information from a wide variety of sources in terms of geography, age, gender, etc. These posts are always welcome. In part, the folks posting this information do not draw conclusions about the world of literature as a whole. Instead, they offer a snapshot for us to consider.

I want all of the data I can get when it comes to books and reading. What I do not want is a limited, blindered look at studies that do not shed much light (yet). And perhaps I should avoid the term "data" as well as it implies some sort of factuality (is that even a word?). Too much of what purports to be research-based is limited, narrow, blindered. All we have to do is recall that the "experts" did not consider any study on the benefits of reading aloud when they established the pillars of reading instruction. It was not, as some might believe, that there is NO valid and scientific research about the efficacy of reading aloud. That research does exist. However, it was purposefully omitted. And what does that say about research?

So, think before you post or share. Consider the source. Ask the questions about what is being said and what might be implied. Maybe be a little selfish and decide NOT to share?
Tags: fallacies, research
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