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Making Sense of Research

Making Sense of Research
What's Good, What's Not, and How To Tell the Difference

Foreword by Henry M. Levin

March 2003 | 200 pages | Corwin

How can educators make sense of the complexities of research?

Making Sense of Research brings together the best of two worlds—the "real" world where education is practiced daily and the "ivory tower" world where research is ongoing. The authors have written this book for practitioners at all levels, from teachers making site-specific decisions such as allocating time, to administrators making schoolwide and policy decisions such as reducing class size. They outline and explain how quality research can inform, enlighten, and provide direction to educators that will save time and money, as well as make schools more effective and increase opportunities for students.

Educators are increasingly accountable for the outcome of their efforts. This vital resource will assist them in assessing the validity of research claims by leading the reader through a revealing examination of five critical questions:

  • Does it work? (the causal question)
  • How does it work? (the process question)
  • Is it worthwhile? (the cost question)
  • Will it work for me? (the usability question)
  • Is it working for me? (the evaluation question)

Making Sense of Research will change the way you read and think about research, and thereby help you enhance school improvement, sustain your vision of quality education, attain your mission, and ultimately increase student achievement.

Henry M. Levin
The Goals of This Book  
Who This Book Is For  
What This Book Is Not  
Overview of the Contents  
A Few Words of Explanation  
About the Authors
1. Asking the Right Questions
What Is Our Approach to Making Sense of Research?  
Five Questions About Research  
Four Case Studies of Education Research  
Further Reading  
2. Behind the Scenes in the World of Education Research
The World of Education Research  
Who Does Education Research?  
Who Pays for It?  
Where Is It Published?  
Can You Trust Education Research?  
What Does the Future Hold for Education Research?  
Does Education Research Really Matter?  
Further Reading  
3. The Causal Questions: Does It Work? (Part I)
The Causality Conundrum  
Simple (Minded) Methods of Establishing Causality  
What Can Go Wrong With Experiments?  
Why Are Experiments So Unpopular With Education Teachers  
Further Reading  
4 The Causal Question: Does It Work? (Part II)
Quasi-Experiments and Non-Experiments  
The Researcher's Bag of Tricks  
Quasi-Experimental Approaches  
Non-Experimental Approaches  
Further Reading  
5. The Process Question: How Does It Work?
What Is Qualitative Research?  
The Qualities of Qualitative Research  
The Power of Qualitative Research  
Qualitative Research Methods  
From Whence Comes the Quality in Qualitative Research?  
Further Reading  
6. The Cost Question: Is It Worthwhile?
The Concept of Costs  
The Ingredients Method of Cost Analysis  
Two Important Cost Questions  
Further Reading  
7. The Usability Question: Will It Work for Me?
Will it Work in My Setting?  
Some Rules of Thumb for Making Generalizations  
Research Reviews and Meta-Analysis  
Special Considerations for Qualitative and Cost Studies  
Making Trade-Offs  
Further Reading  
8. The Evaluation Question: Is It Working for Me?
What Is User-Driven Research?  
User-Driven Research at Lincoln Middle School  
Asking the Right Questions  
Refocusing on Outcomes  
Defining the Problems  
Exemplars of User-Driven Research  
Further Reading  
Resource: Bibliographies for Case Studies
Class Size Reduction  
Phonics Instruction  
Private-School Vouchers  
Whole-School Reform  

Each chapter launches with a discussion of the different forms of inquiry that can be used to answer [a] question at hand, and in plain language how each type (design or paradigm) works. Part of that process involves frank assessment of the strengths and limitations of each format--and thus the credibility of the evidence produced.

June edition of

Succinct, yet pertinent information on the mechanics and applicability of research that will lend to students understanding as they navigate the dissertation process.

Professor Andrekka J Lanier
Ed Administration Policy Dept, Univ Of Southern California
May 16, 2016

The book is concisely written and offers a pragmatic approach to research.

Dr Jane McGuire
School Of Education, California Baptist University
October 27, 2010

Sample Materials & Chapters

Foreword by Henry M. Levin


Chapter 1: Asking the Right Questions

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ISBN: 9780761977087

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