Educational Research

Taking the Plunge

By: Phil Wood , Joan Smith


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Ebook


Size: 234 x 156mm

Pages : 160

ISBN : 9781781352403

Format: Hardback

Published: February 2016


Educational Research by Phil Wood and Joan Smith blends together discussion of some of the main concepts and knowledge concerning educational research with some basic frameworks and approaches for completing your own projects. Research can play an important role in offering ideas and insights into educational issues, but it should always be understood and utilised through the filter of professional values and judgement. This book is suitable for those with little or no research experience: in it, the authors sketch out some of the main features and concepts in educational research, whilst also offering advice on constructing single, small-scale research projects. As such, it will allow readers to engage with some of the basic conceptual elements of research as well as offering a foundation of knowledge and application.

Educational Research has two main aims:

  1. To introduce some of the basic concepts and knowledge underlying an understanding of research. This is important as research has a specialist language all of its own. To engage with and critique research we need to be able to understand how and why a piece of research has been developed in the way it has.
  2. To provide some basic frameworks for developing your own small-scale research projects. One of the best ways to deepen your understanding of research is to carry out your own!

Educational Research is a comprehensive guide to practitioner research, equipping teachers with the tools to develop their research literacy and conduct their own small-scale research projects. The book covers: the foundations of good educational research, research literacy, ethical issues in educational research, managing researcher bias, critical reading and writing, an introduction to research interests, context and questions, worldviews, philosophies and methodologies of research, research methods, data capture, sampling, methods of data collection, analysing data, descriptive statistics, reliability and validity and developing small-scale research projects.


Picture for author Phil Wood

Phil Wood

After spending 10 years teaching in secondary schools in Lincolnshire, Phil Wood moved into higher education, first at the University of Leicester, and now as a Reader in Education at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln. He is an active researcher focusing on educational change, currently exploring complexity informed approaches to education, and the nature of teacher workload.

Click here to listen in on Phil's podcast with Pivotal Education on How to Train, Retain and Research'.


Picture for author Joan Smith

Joan Smith

Joan Smith worked as a secondary school teacher for almost twenty years, holding a variety of middle and senior leadership roles. She then moved into Initial Teacher Education as a PGCE tutor. She is currently postgraduate tutor for the EdD programme, a part-time professional doctorate designed for full-time teachers at the University of Leicester, and researches on both critical writing and research methods at postgraduate level.


Reviews

  1. -‹This book has been designed for people who are thinking about carrying out a small-scale educational research project, perhaps for the first time, as the title suggests.

    Any trepidation that one may feel about this enterprise is countered by the clear, engaging and encouraging tone of the writing. The research process is well-explained and wide range of concepts are explored in a coherent fashion. 

    The book is logically organised and each chapter deals with a different stage in the research journey. It starts with a chapter that explore what research can be and ends with how small-scale research can be developed.

    The authors argue that not only researchers need to be research-literate. Those who read and use other people's research also should be able to make informed judgements about its validity and quality. 

    The central role of ethics within educational research is a feature of the book: consent, honesty and care are noted as being the basic principles of ethical practice. Suggestions are offered on how to manage researcher bias throughout the stages of research design, data-collection, analysing data and reporting findings.

    There is a very useful chapter about critical reading and writing (pp.33-48) that delivers practical advice on how to approach writing as a shared process between critical friends who can give and receive feedback on a script. The next chapter, which addresses research questions, is also very good.

    The authors are open about their aim to write about small-scale research projects and it is understandable that they don't tackle in-depth longitudinal studies or those based on narrative inquiry.

    Many of their examples refer to schools, but there is a lot to be gleaned from this book and applied in further education and non-formal education settings.
  2. -‹Engaging effectively with education research is something that can enhance any teacher's CPD journey - and this accessible and informative book is the perfect introductory guide whether you are looking to take a higher degree; investigate a topic in order to inform and improve practice in your school; or simply want to be able to look beyond the media headlines whenever the results of a new study related to teaching and learning are announced. Setting out the importance of a strong and transparent ethical framework from the outset, Phil Wood and Joan Smith present all the stages of what good research looks like, enabling readers both to recognise and replicate it for themselves. From identifying the right questions in order to generate the most useful responses, to ensuring your language is unequivocal and unbiased throughout, every step of the process is clearly explained and illustrated, with plenty of helpful anecdotes, case studies and models along the way.
  3. This is the sort of book that will help teachers make sense of the world in which they work. How to look carefully, how to record what is happening, how to interpret results and how to decide what to do next ... and how to know whether whatever we decide to do is working: basic questions and simple truths that make a difference to the learning experience of pupils. The book is a must for the thinking teacher; take the plunge.
  4. The authors have written a clearly structured and engaging text which will encourage school and college based teachers to -œtake the plunge- into small scale research. It will be of immense help as background reading for those contemplating research projects since it covers key principles, methodologies, ethics, analysis and presentation of data and findings in a realistic and accessible format. It will make the -œresearch journey- for those studying for additional qualifications less hazardous as the range of potential pitfalls are discussed at length.  I was impressed with the overall structure of the text which will support the developing focus on staff measuring the impact of their work and providing evidence of what is working in promoting learning and social outcomes. I was particularly impressed with the sections on managing research bias, critical reading and writing, data collection and analysis. This book is an excellent resource for staff in schools and colleges who are keen to use research to identify and support the achievement and progress of key groups and the impact of their work. 
  5. In Educational Research: Taking the Plunge, Phil Wood and Joan Smith provide a punchy and reader-friendly resource that will prove invaluable to researchers seeking quick answers to methodological puzzles or comprehensive introductions to a wide range of research matters. The explanations are clear and concise; the organization of the book and the page layout make navigation simple; and the copious examples aid understanding-”all of which also make the book very accessible to readers for whom English is not the first language.
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  8. This is the book on educational research that we've been waiting for and it couldn't be more timely. Wood and Smith set out to ignite readers' interest in understanding and conducting their own research and Educational Research fulfils that promise. For teachers across the land who strive to make learning brilliant for every student in front of them early on a Monday morning, this book offers a practical and insightful guide.

    Educational Research pulls off a great balancing act. It recognises the importance of hanging on to the creative spark of interest that first ignited your research questions while challenging you to be methodical and systematic in your approach. The gift of this book is that it explains how to do both.

    Educational Research provides an engaging insight into research principles, methods and frameworks. Every step of the research process is clearly presented: from the design of surveys and questionnaires and getting the most out of interviews, all the way to thinking about how best to analyse and present your data.

    Importantly, Wood and Smith have placed ethics at the heart of this book. The principles of honesty, transparency and care underpin every stage of the research process as they describe it. Crafting any educational research project using Educational Research will set you on the path to results that are credible, fairer and more robust.

    So, this book is a goldmine for any teacher who regularly asks themselves, -˜What changes do I want or need to see?', -˜How will I bring these about?' and -˜What will I try then?' The delight of this book is that it also gives us an answer to the final impact question, -˜-¦and how will I truly know it's made a difference?' Packed with practical tools, examples and reflective questions, Educational Research will add to and expand the research repertoire of every classroom teacher.

    So simply open up the first page and get started.
  9. Here's a must for the staff library; useful for any staff thinking of taking a higher degree -“ and there are many -“ and vital to a school keen on using research findings and in setting out to base their improvement on practical school-based research.
  10. This is a welcome new resource for those interested in finding out more about educational research either for professional interest or because they want to engage in it themselves. In supporting colleagues to -˜take the plunge' the authors offer a pragmatic approach outlining the principles, identifying the challenges and reassuring the reader that it might sometimes be messy.

    The book outlines the concepts and knowledge underlying educational research, which is both accessible and helpful. The authors emphasise both the complexity and messiness of research and reassure the reader that this is part of the process. So, for instance, very few people are able to write their findings in one go, they usually need revisions and this is fine. Sometimes the findings are unexpected, counter-intuitive or even negative. Again the authors are reassuring that this is part of honest, robust research. Underlying this is the notion of open-mindedness on the part of the researcher and a willingness to be alert to their own preconceptions and biases. There is a helpful commentary on helping to overcome these and ensuring that the research is open rather than being a campaign.

    Educational Research summarises all the areas for a new researcher to consider. It is a very accessible resource, not least because of the way it is written but because of the examples and case studies which the authors provide. These show the complexity and also the rewards of undertaking research. Particularly helpful are the summaries of other key books on research.
  11. Educational Research provides an excellent introduction to the current perceptions of research in education and can act as a steady mentor for those wishing to explore research further. It is very astute and communicated in a clear, non-condescending tone, emanating respect for the reader. The interplay between research, practice and practitioner development comes across well and integrity behind the reason for writing is clear; it is a book written to develop those in the profession and will be of use to educators on many levels. I highly recommend it!
  12. Phil Wood and Joan Smith have written a neat guide to educational research which will contribute nicely to the burgeoning research-in-education business. Wood and Smith demonstrate with utter clarity that undertaking your own research is a complicated business. What I like most is their acknowledgement that educational research should -˜always be understood and utilised through the filter of professional values and judgement'. Educational Research explains the nuances of research and will prove an invaluable guide for anyone on the verge of engaging in developing an evidence-informed approach to teaching.
  13. Following a 30-year career as an educational practitioner, I embarked on a professional doctorate in 2010. I really wish this book had been available then! It is a comprehensive, clear and accessible guide to how to conduct research, particularly single, small-scale projects, in a responsible and rigorous way.

    The chapter outline at the outset reflects the extensive nature of the guidance, and provides a useful overview to help fledgling researchers decide which sections to focus on depending on the stage they have reached -“ for example, ethical considerations, choice of methodology and methods, or data generation and analysis. The introduction charts the growing interest in educational research since 2010, which has moved from a simple focus on -˜what works' in the classroom to a wider exploration of the multi-faceted benefits of reflective practice within an educational context. The authors supply a useful definition of research and consider general, overarching principles before going on to offer practical advice; well-illustrated with specific examples about how best to navigate the process of embarking on, and successfully completing, a research project. They explore pitfalls to avoid and good practice to emulate, and include an extremely useful annotated list of recommendations for further reading.
    The readable style and accessible language reflect the book's intended audience of professionals, rather than the academic community. The key message is communicated in a compelling way -“ the importance of being -˜positively critical', of avoiding bias and ensuring ethical principles underpin all stages of the research process. Wood and Smith argue convincingly that the best way to develop research literacy is to conduct your own research. This book will help you to do so in a way which is informed and robust. My only complaint is the timing of the publication of the book -“ just as I submit my doctoral thesis -¦
  14. This book is well-structured and considers all the main points first-time researchers need to consider. The examples are particularly beneficial for students studying short research modules, as seen on our PGCE course, and the section on ethics provides simple, clear explanations of the important aspects to consider. I would certainly recommend this to students I am teaching and supervising as an accessible introduction into this aspect of academic writing.
  15. It is no mean feat to write an introductory book about educational research for teachers that is expressed in clear, intelligible language whilst making accessible to the reader a topic and associated discourse which is not only new but can seem overwhelming. But with Educational Research, Phil and Joan have managed to pull it off! In capturing an education zeitgeist, this book provides teachers with a thoroughly engaging, much needed introductory guide to refer to when engaging with education research. I particularly like the fact that ethical issues are given precedence right at the beginning of the book. As the authors say, all too often ethical considerations can be given scant regard or seen as a procedural, box ticking exercise when conducting research. Yet by foregrounding its importance, Phil and Joan are developing a crucial, ethical awareness in the reader from the outset of the book. Practising what they preach and starting as they mean to go on! This is a book well worth reading for any teacher thinking about dipping their toe in the education research waters or even those who simply want to find out more about the subject.

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