SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 1: Lubienski, C., Scott, J., & DeBray, E. (2014). The politics of research production, promotion, and utilization in educational policy. Educational Policy28, 131–144.

Abstract: Researchers have noted with concern the often weak link between research evidence and policymaking, particularly in some areas such as education. In this introductory essay--dedicated to the late Carol Weiss--we consider this issue first by reflecting on how changing historical conditions can shape institutional demands on and for research production, promotion, and use. This leads to the questions: How can institutions use evidence on different policy options? How do policymakers and other information consumers sort through competing claims? Are new processes and institutions emerging to shape research use? In view of the current calls from public policymakers in the government and private policymakers in philanthropies for rigorous research on the effectiveness of policy interventions, we compare the relative role of research use in education policy to other issues, such as climate science, and highlight the growing role of intermediate actors as they shape research use. And we consider some common characteristics of these policy issues that may contribute to misuse or disuse, as well as to greater consideration of research. We offer an overview of the understanding of research use in education and point to the need to explore new theoretical frameworks and methodologies. The essay ends with an overview of the papers in the issue.

Journal Article 2: Willingham, D. T., Hughes, E. M., & Dobolyi, D. G. (2015). The scientific status of learning styles theories. Teaching of Psychology42, 266–271.

Abstract: Theories of learning styles suggest that individuals think and learn best in different ways. These are not differences of ability but rather preferences for processing certain types of information or for processing information in certain types of way. If accurate, learning styles theories could have important implications for instruction because student achievement would be a product of the interaction of instruction and the student’s style. There is reason to think that people view learning styles theories as broadly accurate, but, in fact, scientific support for these theories is lacking. We suggest that educators’ time and energy are better spent on other theories that might aid instruction.

Journal Article 3: Wieman, C. E. (2014). The similarities between research in education and research in the hard sciences. Educational Researcher43, 12–14.

Abstract: In this commentary, the author argues that there is a considerable degree of similarity between research in the hard sciences and education and that this provides a useful lens for thinking about what constitutes “rigorous” and “scientific” education research. He suggests that the fundamental property of hard science research is its predictive power, a property that can equally be applied to large- and small-scale and quantitative and qualitative research in education. Although variables may differ and methods of collection may not be the same, researchers do their best to measure and/or control those variables that matter, and design experiments and subsequent tests to ensure that those that can neither be measured nor fully controlled are unlikely to change the results in significant ways. He concludes that although fields like physics or chemistry are mature sciences, the “cutting-edge” work in these fields is often “messy,” as researchers struggle to determine which variables are important. He suggests that education research often resembles the patterns seen in cutting-edge research in the “hard” sciences, as researchers are struggling to identify variables that are important to the problem.