This article describes the authors’ endeavor to profile selected acim research journals and the unexpected surprises encountered along the way; in particular, difficulties in the development of a suitable ‘mapping tool’. There may be implications for education researchers as well as teachers of research.
The Nature of Educational Research
Educational research is undertaken by a range of stakeholders including government departments and non-government organisations, but the majority of educational research, as with most disciplines, is undertaken by academics in universities. Educational research covers a broad range of topics such as curriculum and pedagogy, education systems (encompassing early childhood, primary, secondary education) and various specialist studies, including areas such as assessment, leadership, technology and gender.
Research needs of stakeholders vary. Education departments use research to inform teaching and curriculum practice, devise professional learning activities, target resources and improve system requirements. Non-government organisations may use research to develop teaching resources or provide information to improve services to a range of clients. Research that underpins the teaching and learning process is of particular importance to inform teacher practice.
Universities usually require students to engage with the education research literature, whereby students undertake a unit in research methods or read educational research. With the growth of pre-service teacher education courses offered at the Master degree level in countries such as Australia, the requirement for research skills has escalated.
Research in education encompasses many different naturalistic, interpretative, hypothesis generating models as well as hypothesis testing models. A rich resource of text books is available for those studying the theory and practice of educational research: Burke & Christensen (2012), Punch (2009), O’Toole & Beckett (2013), Wiersma and Jurs (2009) and Yin (2012), to name a few. Due to the nature of research in an educational setting the majority of research utilises a hypothesis generation approach with a predominance of verbal qualitative data gathering.