Educational Research, The National Agenda, and Educational Reform

A History

Edited by:
Erwin V. Johanningmeier, University of South Florida
Theresa R. Richardson, Ball State University

A volume in the series: Studies in the History of Education. Editor(s): Karen L. Riley, Auburn University at Montgomery.

Published 2008

Educational Research, The National Agenda, and Educational Reform examines the origins, history, nature, purposes, and status of educational research by focusing on the relationships among educational research, the national agenda, educational reform, and the social and behavioral sciences. Its major claim is that the history of educational research is embedded in the nation’s social, political, intellectual, and economic histories. Attention is given to three significant periods: the Progressive Era when modern educational research began to assume its present form; the Post-World-War-II-Era when educators and educational researchers were directed to return to or turn to the academic disciplines; and the Civil Rights Era after the Supreme Court in Brown ended legal racial segregation and raised questions about equality of educational opportunity that are still with us. These were significant periods when there was a clear national agenda shaped by both public and private agencies. Educators and educational researchers adopted policies and strategies in response to concerns and interests expressed by the public, by government officials, and by philanthropies. Researchers’ responses have had long-term consequences as seen in the reaction to The Coleman Report, debates about the merits of quantitative research as opposed to qualitative research, the ongoing discussion about the merits of No Child Left Behind, the achievement gap, the creation of the Institute of Education Sciences, and the emphasis now placed on “scientifically-based research.”

The origins of the common school, the work of the philosopher Johann Friedrich Herbart and his followers, and the revolution in scientific method brought about by Charles Darwin’s work are included because they serve as the foundation for educational research. Educational researchers’ identification with and interest in individual performance and ability and their measurement is related to the close relationship educational researchers have had with psychology, a discipline that typically does not focus on social context. The significance of educational researchers’ borrowing from the behavioral sciences, especially psychology, is examined through a discussion of the mental hygiene movement, as supported by private philanthropy, and through consideration of contributors such as G. Stanley Hall, Arnold Gesell, Lewis M. Terman, Daniel Starch, and Stuart A. Courtis.

Preface. Introduction. Part I: Framing the Problem. The Progressives, Public Education, and Educational Research. Controversies Over the Origins of Educational Research. Defining Status and Privilege in Educational Research. Part II: Origins and Originating Myths. Origins of Public Education and Educational Research: The Common School. Education as a Conscious Business: Herbart and the Herbartians. Darwinism in the United States. Part III: Psychologists and Testers. Child Study, G. Stanley Hall, Arnold Gesell, and Lewis M. Terman. Educational Efficiency and Tests: Daniel Starch and Stuart A. Courtis. The Laws of Learning: The Legacy of Edward L. Thorndike.