Study, Share, Synopsis, and Scrutinize: A cycle of academic exploration and analysis

Mark Schneider recently concluded his six-year term as the director of the Institute of Education Sciences. His responsibilities at IES included overseeing the nation’s education research efforts, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the What Works Clearinghouse. Prior to his role at IES, Mark held positions at the American Institutes for Research and the National Center for Education Statistics. Reflecting on his time at IES, Mark shared his insights. Read on for Part One of the interview; Part Two will be published on Wednesday.

—Rick Hess

Rick Hess: As you conclude your term as director of the Institute of Education Sciences, how do you assess the state of educational research in America?

Mark Schneider

Mark Schneider: Reflecting on my time as a political science professor, I have observed that the challenges in social science research are unique, given the complexity of human behavior. Our efforts often fall short, with an approximate success rate of 15%. This echoes the broader trend in human-centered fields like education research. Despite the low success rate, it is essential to continue learning from our failures.

Hess: Amid these challenges, how have you aimed to transform the focus of IES?

Schneider: I have advocated for a shift in IES’s standard operating model. Initiatives like SEERNet offer researchers new opportunities for larger-scale experiments and data access. Replication and scaling of successful interventions are crucial for advancing education research. While replication challenges exist in other fields, we strive to incorporate these practices into our work.

Hess: What has been your primary frustration with the education research community as the director of IES?

Schneider: Education science often grapples with jargon and ineffective communication. Improving the readability and accessibility of research reports remains a priority. By promoting concise and clear writing, we aim to enhance the impact of our findings.

Hess: What changes could enhance the effectiveness of education research?

Schneider: I have advocated for establishing a new center within IES focused on innovative and rapid research. Embracing best practices outlined in the SEER principles and refining research methodologies can elevate the quality of our work. Continuous improvement is key to advancing education research.

Hess: How do you see the role of new research centers like NCADE within IES?

Mark: Despite existing research centers at IES, the introduction of NCADE could catalyze transformative research efforts. Overcoming institutional inertia and fostering a culture of innovation are ongoing challenges. NCADE presents an opportunity for revitalizing education science research.

Hess: Addressing the timeliness of data and research dissemination, what hurdles hinder progress in education research?

Schneider: Timeliness remains a prevalent issue for education research, prompting calls for accelerated publication and data release. Balancing research rigor with speed is crucial for meeting stakeholders’ needs. Enhancing NCES’s capacity for timely production and fostering a culture of responsiveness are essential for advancing education research.

Frederick Hess is director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and an executive editor of Education Next.

This post originally appeared on Rick Hess Straight Up.

The post Research, Report, Repeat … and Reflect appeared first on Education Next.

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