There has been a necessity for educational practice and strategies to develop  significantly over the last century to maintain learner’s engagement and continue to  reach new targets set by government and public expectations (Donaldson, 2015).  With such altering landscapes for teaching, the question which practitioners and  Scholars continue to debate, is the need for both academic and action research, and  how they can benefit delivery of learning. In this assignment I will be comparing and  analysing the need for both academic and practical research within education. 

All research (including theoretical) can have an impact on educational practices  however, this is not always the best and most practical approach to teaching. The  latest research is not always utilized and there are often questions around the validity  of the research with real problems faced in the classroom (Candela, et al. 2004).  There is also a risk that the teacher misinterprets the study creating discouraging  learning environments. Pritchard (2018) recognises the notion that referring to theory  may benefit the teacher more, once they have been in practice and can see the direct  connection to practice. However, Lunenbury and Korthagen (2009) emphasise the  concept that novice educators need all the support in the early stages to ensure  practice is linked to theory throughout their careers. Educators need to determine  how learning happens so that they can teach successfully (Petty, 2004). Equally, for  teachers to work effectively, they need to understand what theory can be transformed  into practice (Pritchard, 2018). 

Practitioners should have access to valuable research and results (Candela, et al.  2004) however, it could be argued educators lack time to examine and understand  essential research while embedding this into practice (Norton, 2001). Dean (2006)  discusses the experience of educators being unrealistic, when teachers need to learn new approaches, reflect and engage in action research while progressing with  assessments in the classroom without further time or resources provided is not  feasible. Nelson and Campell (2017) also emphasise the need for researchers to  display their work more ‘clearly, accessibly and effectively’ to build stronger  collaborations between research and education. The disparity between teaching and  research has been acknowledged over the years (McIntyre 2005 cited in Hamza et  al. 2018) emphasising the need to approach them ‘as a matter of two equal practices  interacting with each other’ to create a successful partnership. Researcher’s task is  predominantly, to study and investigate. An educator’s demanding and complex role  does not allow simple access to engage in both academic and action research. 

Petty (2004) acknowledges that educators need to give time and attention to  ‘theory-in-use’ when reflecting on their teaching to ensure they develop skills to  enhance learning. Having such a range of theory and research however, may  overwhelm educators if they do not have the opportunity to instigate their own  learning into the classroom. Arguably, it has been questioned whether theory  supports teachers to practically embed their ethos in classrooms with increasing  pressures and judgements on performance (Aubrey & Riley, 2016). In contention,  Adams (2000 cited in Norton, 2001) provides a convincing argument for the position  of action research in education to remove such barriers. Adams’ (2000) results  showed lecturers were driven by their learners, the subject area and the need to  develop their own practice rather than policy. The action research would demonstrate  theory and practice while ensuring high quality teaching and delivery. 

Largely, learning theories and their supporting evidence, link directly to the learning  and development of children (Pritchard, 2018) with traditional theorists rarely expanding their research into adult or further education, arguably because of the  period when this research and evidence was conducted. However, this could raise a  question to the relevance and diligence if further research has not been expanded  into other regions of adult learning. Naturally, as time and education evolves, it could  be disputed that traditional notions of learning have progressed (Mensah, 2015).  Within the college classrooms however, the constructivism model is still regularly  encouraged for learners to structure their own understanding and create authentic  learning experiences (Gijbels, van de Watering, Dochy, & van den Bossche, 2006;  Jonassen, 1994; Jonassen, Peck, & Wilson, 1999; Loyens, Rikers, & Schmidt, 2008;  Sherman & Kurshan, 2005; Tenenbaum, Naidu, Jegede, & Austin, 2001 cited in  Mensah, 2015). With such a variety of theorists available to teachers to examine  (Pritchard, 2016), it could be argued that academic research is relevant in most  teaching strategies and approaches, and they stem directly from original theoretical  research (Petty, 2004). While all teaching strategies are not a necessity and required  at all times in classrooms, similarly, all teaching theories are not needed, however  this does not signify any less of a need to comprehend and appreciate their bearing  in education. In spite of the weight academic research holds in the wider world,  especially within policy, Corey (1953 cited in Robins, 2015) suggested that teachers  would favour probing colleagues for ideas and recommendations rather than reading  general knowledge for solutions, suggesting that researchers may not be improving  teaching practice (Cooper et al. cited in Nelson and Campbell, 2017).  LaPointe-McEwan (et al. cited in Nelson and Campbell, 2017) study also supports  these findings, substantiating the use of practice supports teachers more than use of  original research. 

It could be argued that differentiating between researched theories is a vital skill for  educators to ensure that the correct approach to learning is implemented. Biggs  (1996, cited in Norton, 2001) indicates however in higher education the application of  the constructivist theory is absent and the teaching relies heavily on the teacher  delivering up to date knowledge of a subject. This may not necessarily be detrimental  to learning however, if other theories are not considered, it could limit how many  learners engage and grasp an understanding (Aubrey and Riley, 2016). Candela (et  al. 2004) suggests older, more established theories may not give practical or realistic  approaches to the modern classroom. Similarly, Nelson and Campbell (2017)  maintain that teachers need to utlise their professional cognitive judgement where  necessary and not be influenced merely by theory. Furthermore, due to the complex  and often diverse needs of learners; which researchers have not necessarily taken  into consideration (Groundwater-Smith & Dadds, 2004 cited in Dean, 2006),  educators need to develop their teaching strategies and create innovative learning  environments. This significant change impacts the way educational theorists must  consider their study (Naz and Murad, 2017). As a result, teachers have needed to  develop their practices and methodologies which essentially evidence-based  research could facilitate. Equally, Barnett (2000 cited in Bradley, 2003) claims that  researchers have not tackled the challenging scene of modern education. Wiliam  (2019) advocates the notion that education will never be a ‘researched-based  profession’ down to the reality that education is too intricate to diagnose a solution, and at times there is no research to support a specific situation. 

Interesting point

Learning is not necessarily a ‘completed’ process with an end result, which generates  the question, without clear guidelines how can there be evidence of learning in a  structured and controlled format? Pring (2009 cited in Bradley, 2003) acknowledges the misplaced hypothesis that education and learning is ‘object of a science’ (Pring, 2000, p. 29). Theories themselves have compared their differentiations, contending  each others values (Pritchard, 2016) however, equally to Pring, Goldacre  (2013 cited in Nelson and Campbell, 2017) argues that ‘education is not evidence  based’. One could argue that science is not automatically the best method to quantify  outcomes and ensure practice is improving. Research is motivated and affected by  internal factors such as values and opinion while extending beyond into the context of  the subject areas (Nelson and Campbell, 2017). 

In the majority of disciplines, vocational experts are used to carry out research in their  field and use their discoveries to influence practice however, in education the majority  of traditional research is conducted by the science of learning (Wiliam, 2019). It has  been proven through compelling evidence, learning theories are tangible and need to  be thought of, however, it could be debated they are not the only sources to use  within the classroom (Candela, et al. 2004). Action research in education consists of  an activity to support the development of practice and how to develop the needs of  learners within the classroom (Roffey-Barentsen & Malthouse, 2009; Dean, 2016).  Areas such as medicine do not solely rely on theoretical origins but need to consider  and operate using physical practice to shape understanding and progression (Hamza et al. 2018). 

It could be argued when actions are applied by teachers they understand their  teaching and what kind learning they want taking place in the classroom which could  differ from researchers (Candela, et al. 2004). Having action research could be  perceived as more valuable as the educator’s practice is inevitably influenced  through their own reflection following this research (Norton, 2001). Having teachers involved in the methodical process with researchers however, could establish more  valid theory of teaching (Candela, et al. 2004). If educators are expected to engage  in reflection not only to obey regulatory requirements, but for the improvement of their  teaching approach; much consideration should be given to action research. Following  the argument surrounding academic research however, this emphasises the time  needed to engage with the exercise. The importance of the action research process  however, can not be undervalued, the information may be a stimulus for future  teaching and self evaluation and evidence can be utilized externally (Gordon 2009;  Todd 2015; Wideman 2011 cited in Robins, 2015). Instigating action research  supports practitioners to ‘measure improvement’ (Corey 1953 cited in Robins, 2015)  which supports the argument for the necessity for both academic and  evidence-based research to reinforce one another. 

Many studies surrounding action research, maintains the notion it will encourage  teacher reflection and improve practice however, similar to the concept of learning  itself, there is no ideal model or process to implement the research arguably, due to  complex techniques used in educational and policy establishments (Adelman 1993;  Corey 1953; Gordon 2009; Noffke 1997; Pine 2009; Sandretto 2007 cited in Robins,  2015). This introduces new potential barriers but also supports teachers to develop  their understanding for research methods and will be establishing research skills  which itself is a development tool (Hamza et al. 2018). Larrivee (2000) suggested if  educators don’t have the comprehension as to why they teach the way they do and  do not continue to critically reflect, teachers merely have a range of detached  techniques and are ‘trapped in unexamined judgments, interpretations, assumptions,  and expectations.’ (Larrivee, 2000). 

Throughout this assignment, the need for both academic and action-based research  has been corroborated. This does not mean teachers need to pursue an occupation  within academic research to develop their competence (Hamza et al. 2018) but both  professions could work simultaneously to develop effective teaching of the theories for the modern age. However, one significant feature for both research practices is  the time needed to implement the change. To ensure the benefits discussed and  tangible change is to happen in education, adjustments need to be made to the  establishments and practices surrounding teacher development (Dean, 2006). ‘When  schools become learning institutions for all, they will be revitalized and learning will  be a deeply engaging and satisfying process for teachers and students’ (Dean, 


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