Friday, October 26, 2012

In Defense of the NRC's Scientific Research in Education

Some blog followers might be interested in a recent post “In Defense of the NRC's Scientific Research in Education” [Hake (2012)]. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: In my post “Is ‘Education Research’ ‘Scientific Research’ ? YES!” [Hake (2012)] at I listed the one-line headings of the “six guiding principles that underlie all scientific inquiry (including education research)” as set down in the “Executive Summary” of the NRC’s Scientific Research in Education [Shavelson & Towne (2002)] at

In response, Math Education Guru Clyde Greeno (2012) at denounced the six principles as “glibly superficial and badly unknowing about the nature of science,” on the basis of their one-line headings, evidently not bothering to scan the book Scientific Research in Education or even the paragraph-long elaborations of the six principles in the “Executive Summary.” In this post I juxtapose for each of NRC’s six one-line headings (a) Greeno’s criticism, and (b) NRC’s one-paragraph elaboration, and invite readers to judge the validity of Greeno' criticisms. Greeno ended his critique with: (a) “I am amazed that the NRC would allow such a publication,” and (b) “[The World is] more than anxious to learn of whatever educational research efforts qualify as being genuinely ‘scientific.’ ”

Regarding (a) above, I am amazed that Greeno would denounce the NRC’s six guiding principles on the basis of what he (often mistakenly) perceives them to mean from their one-line headings. Regarding (b) above, he and other skeptics might consider scanning: (1) “The future of physics education research: Intellectual challenges and practical concerns” [Heron & Meltzer (2005)] at; (2) “A Developmental History of Physics Education Research” [Cummings (2011) at; (3) “The Impact of Concept Inventories On Physics Education and It's Relevance For Engineering Education” [Hake (2011a)] at (8.7 MB); and (4) and “Resource Letter ALIP-1: Active-Learning Instruction in Physics” [Meltzer & Thornton (2012)] at

To access the complete 46 kB post please click on

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Links to Articles:
Links to Socratic Dialogue Inducing (SDI) Labs:

“Education is not rocket science, it’s much harder.”
- George Nelson, astronaut, astrophysicist, and former director of the AAAS Project 2061, as quoted by Redish (1999)

“Physics educators have led the way in developing and using objective tests to compare student learning gains in different types of courses, and chemists, biologists, and others are now developing similar instruments. These tests provide convincing evidence that students assimilate new knowledge more effectively in courses including active, inquiry-based, and collaborative learning, assisted by information technology, than in traditional courses.”
- Wood & Gentile (2003)

REFERENCES [All URL’s shortened by and accessed on 26 Oct 2012.]

Hake, R.R. 2012. “In Defense of the NRC’s ‘Scientific Research in Education,’ ” online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at Post of 26 Oct 2012 17:04:49-0700 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being transmitted to several discussion lists.

Redish, E.F. 1999. “Millikan lecture 1998: building a science of teaching physics,” Am. J. Phys. 67(7): 562-573; online as a 258 kB pdf at

Wood, W.B. & J.M. Gentile. 2003. “Teaching in a research context,” Science 302: 1510; 28 November; online to subscribers at A summary is online to all at

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