The Foundational Handbook on Improvement Research in Education is a pathbreaking effort to build a field of research committed to producing the practical knowledge needed to advance educational access, quality, and equity. This is research distinguished by the use of inclusive, iterative approaches to analysis, design, implementation, and evaluation to understand and address educational opportunities, needs, and problems grounded deeply in school and community contexts. Designed for researchers, students, and educators, the handbook elaborates the intellectual foundations, explores the organizational and policy contexts, reviews approaches, and examines methods of improvement research. It features contributions from a plural community of researchers with expertise in the learning sciences, instructional improvement, organizational and policy studies, and research methodologies, many with extensive experience collaborating with teachers, leadership, families, and advocates in local problem solving and design.
Donald J. Peurach is a professor of Educational Policy, Leadership, and Innovation in the University of Michigan’s School of Education and senior fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Jennifer Lin Russell is professor and chair of Educational, Foundations, Organizations and Policy in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education; associate director of Education Research and Practice at the Learning Research and Development Center; and senior fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Lora Cohen-Vogel is the Frank A. Daniels Endowed Chair of Public Policy and Education in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Director of Interprofessional Education and Practice; and member of the National Academy of Sciences committee on the future of educational research.
William R. Penuel is Distinguished Professor of Learning Sciences and Human Development in the Institute of Cognitive Science in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder; member of the National Academy of Education; and fellow of the International Society of the Learning Sciences and American Educational Research Association.
SECTION 1: FOUNDATIONS OF IMPROVEMENT RESEARCH IN EDUCATION
Introduction to Section 1: Foundations of Improvement Research in Education, David Eddy-Spicer & William R. Penuel
SECTION 2: CONTEXTS OF IMPROVEMENT RESEARCH IN EDUCATION
Introduction to Section 2: Contexts of Improvement Research in Education, Amanda Datnow & Donald J. Peurach
SECTION 3: MAPPING IMPROVEMENT RESEARCH IN EDUCATION
Introduction to Section 3: Mapping Improvement Research in Education, Marisa Cannata
SECTION 4: DESIGNS, TOOLS, AND METHODS OF IMPROVEMENT RESEARCH IN EDUCATION
Introduction to Section 4: Designs, Tools, and Methods of Improvement Research in Education, Alan J. Daly & Jennifer Lin Russell
Grounded in research and theory about what it means to study and radically transform practice, this is a book for any of us who refuse to maintain an inequitable status quo. An edited volume with a seamless analytic core, authors remind us why the work of improvement research cannot wait. As practitioners build new knowledge, mindsets, attitudes, dispositions and skills during increasingly challenging times, this book should be on the bookshelf of every educator, community organizer, politician and policymaker concerned about what it takes to co-construct opportunity centered practices and policies. Building on the best of what we know from empirical research about studying practice for design, new questions are raised and innovative strategies and tools are advanced and amplified. This book addresses a delicate, complex interplay between the individual and the institutional – it teaches as it traverses.
This volume is foundational in establishing the commitments, principles and methods of a new academic field inextricably bound with educational practice. It is foundational in its community of scholars who share common purpose: how the expertise in our nation’s universities can more productively engage in the practical concerns of advancing human betterment. It is foundational in its democratic rootedness that genuine improvements demand engaging the voices of students, educators, parents, and communities. And it is foundational in joining a moral commitment to reimagine a more just and equitable society to the sustained work needed in progressing toward these aspirations day-by-day in every school and community.
A tour de force bringing together some of our nation’s leading education scholars, from different sub-fields, to deliberate on a shared commitment - improvement research. The handbook masterfully maps the terrain as it takes the reader on a journey from the foundational ideas that undergird improvement research through the where, the what, and culminating in the how – the actual practice of improvement research. The volume captures how continuous improvement can be a central function of educational systems, supporting learning, teaching, and leadership practice. Together the chapters cogently shift the frame: from research as an input to educational improvement efforts to research as integral to and inside the work of educational improvement. Essential reading for anyone committed to producing useful and usable knowledge for enabling educational quality and equity for all.
The Foundational Handbook on Improvement Research in Education is a significant body of work that offers a growing field of scholars more examples of the power of applying improvement research to educational practice.
This handbook advances the field of educational research by examining all the contours of “improvement research,” that is research produced and used to support specific contexts. I look forward to using this handbook to justify and guide the development of research produced and used in our research-practice partnerships in California.