I Don't Believe in Research

"Is your district making you use anchor charts?" a teacher asks.

"Yeah, they're all the rage right now. Really trendy." Trendy is exactly it. They're the capri pants of vocabulary.

"I don't understand why I can't use them as a tool and then let the kids keep the charts in a binder," she says.

"I want to know what makes them more effective than the Frayer model," I add.

"They say research, but I've never seen the actual research."

"I think it looks ugly to cover walls with chart paper," she says.

"It looks like a binder vomited on the walls," I say.

But research says, right?

People evoke the name Data (yes, I'm using it as a proper noun, because it is treated oh so properly) as often as some people claim that God has led them. There is an absolute religious belief in Research.

But like the Bible, people can use research to justify just about any initiative they want to push through.

When someone says, "Research says . . . " my instant reaction is to ask:

  1. Was it peer-reviewed? 
  2. Was there a viable commercial interest guiding the formation and analysis of the research? 
  3. What were the variables? What was the control group? How was the research constructed?
  4. How large was the scope of the research? What was the sample size? Where was the research conducted?
  5. What does the raw data look like? How was it analyzed? What external factors were also considered? What were the differences between 
When I ask these questions to professional development presenters or district office personnel, I almost never get a straight answer. I've learned not to ask those questions. It's almost always perceived as a challenge to one's expertise or authority.

Over the years, people have accused me of not "believing in" research. And they're right. I don't believe in research. I either accept it or deny it. Research shouldn't be about beliefs, but way too often it is.

photo credit: Matt_Connors via photo pin cc


John Spencer is a teacher, author, speaker, and incessant doodler.
He is the co-author of Wendell the World's Worst Wizard
and the co-founder of Write About .

Share this post Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email This Pin This