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An Education Research Primer: How to Understand, Evaluate and Use It

ISBN: 978-0-7879-8323-9
184 pages
March 2006, Jossey-Bass
An Education Research Primer: How to Understand, Evaluate and Use It (0787983233) cover image


Produced by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL), one of the nation’s foremost educational research and training organizations, An Education Research Primer gives educators a basic understanding of educational research, its guiding criteria, and its relevance to school-based decision-making. In clear and concise language the book summarizes the various types of educational research, explaining their diverse purposes and methods. For example, the difference between experimental research (studies involving control group trials) and descriptive research (based on descriptive  information and relationships) is explained, including how each is designed to address different types of research questions, and why each might have different applications.  The book also describes what’s involved in setting up a comparison control group and how some studies have randomized control groups while others do not. In addition, the book describes the different types of data collection methods used in research and how this can bear on the research findings.
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Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Acknowledgments xi

Preface xiii

1. The Purpose of Education Research 1

2. Scientific Criteria in Education Research 7

3. The Types of Education Research 13

4. Understanding Experimental and Descriptive Research 21

5. Understanding Data Collection in Education Research 33

6. Issues in Evaluating Education Research 41

7. Evaluating Experimental Research Studies 53

8. Evaluating Descriptive Research Studies 68

9. Evaluating Literature Reviews 83

10. Assessing the Relevance of Education Research 92


A. Tips on Reading Research Reports 102

B. Glossary of Education Research Terms 107

C. Finding Education Research 138

D. Statistics Tutorial 141

References 159

About the Author 162

Index 163

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Author Information

Patricia A. Lauer, Ph.D., is a former principal researcher with Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) in Aurora, Colorado. Currently, she is the evaluation director for the Rocky Mountain Center for Health Promotion and Education in Lakewood, Colorado.

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The Wiley Advantage

  • Helps educators make sense of educational research reports and assess the credibility of research findings, especially for complying with No Child Left Beyind Act requirements.
  • Provides tools for evaluating educational programs and practices.
  • Offers basic grounding in educational research principles and methods based on National Research Council criteria.
  • Includes extensive examples of research and their practical applications.
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“The examples of how to critique published research--especially research using quasi-experimental designs--are the clearest and most detailed I have every read. My students found it very helpful.”--Martin L. Tombari, professor, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, University of Denver


“Finally, Dr. Lauer has written a book for all educators, parents, and policy makers that provides all of the information and explanation needed to easily understand and interpret educational research.”--Charles DeRemer, assistant superintendent for instructional services, Fargo Public Schools, Fargo, North Dakota


“Teachers, principals, superintendents, policy makers, and anyone new to educational research will find An Educational Research Primer an invaluable resource. It demystifies basic research principles and methods by providing numerous examples and other clarifying materials.”--Vickie Grant, director of school improvement and assessment, Shannon County Public School District #65-1


“The book provides a useful and usable resource for everyone who needs to use research for improving educational policy and practice. It is a clear, coherent, user-friendly guide to understanding scientifically based research at all levels of education. This primer should part of an educator’s professional library.”--Joseph H. Simpson, deputy executive director, Council of Chief State Schools Officers


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