Historical Research. What is Historical Research?. The systematic collection and evaluation of data to describe, explain, and understand actions or events that occurred sometime in the past. There is no manipulation or control of variables as in experimental research.
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Permits investigation of topics and questions that can be studied in no other fashion
Cannot control for threats to internal validity
Limitations are imposed due to the content analysis
Researchers cannot ensure representation of the sampleAdvantages and Disadvantages of Historical Research
The word "academic" is a synonym for irrelevant. (Alinsky, 1969)
Teachers and other education professionals have the authority to make decisions.
Teachers and other education professionals want to improve their practice.
Teachers and other education professionals are committed to continual professional development.
Teachers and other education professionals will and can engage in systematic research.
A team of teachers, after discussions with the school administration, decide to meet weekly to revise the mathematics curriculum to make it more relevant to low- achieving students.
A group of teachers decide to observe each other on a weekly basis and then discuss ways to improve their teaching.
The entire staff—administration, teachers, counselors, and clerical staff—of an elementary school go on a retreat to plan ways to improve the attendance and discipline policies for the school.
Following up on the example just listed above, the staff decides to collect data by reviewing the attendance records of chronic absentees over the past year, to interview a random sample of attendees and absentees to determine why they differ, to hold a series of after-school roundtable sessions between discipline-prone students and faculty to identify problems and discuss ways to resolve issues of contention, and to establish a mentoring system in which selected students can serve as counselors to students needing help with their assigned work.
Goal is to solve problems of local concern.
Little formal training required to conduct such studies.
Intent is to identify and correct problems.
Carried out by teacher or other local education professional.
Uses primarily teacher-developed instruments.
Purposive samples selected.
Selective opinions of researcher often considered as data.
Generalizability is very limited.
Goal is to develop and test theories and to produce knowledge generalizable to wide population.
Considerable training required to conduct such studies.
Intent is to investigate larger issues, of local concern.
Carried out by researcher who is not usually involved in local situation.
Uses primarily professionally-developed instruments.
Random samples (if possible) preferred.
Selective opinions of researcher never considered as data.
Generalizability often appropriate.
“I think if the academic does the research you are doing a disservice to the community.”
Do you agree with this statement?
Why or why not?
In your opinion, what is the role of academics, or outsiders, in PAR?