The Similarities Between Research in Education and Research in the Hard Sciences

Jan. 02, 2014

Source: Educational Researcher, 43(1), Jan/Feb 2014, p. 12-14.

In this article, the author argues that there is a considerable degree of similarity between research in the hard sciences and education and that this provides a useful lens for thinking about what constitutes “rigorous” and “scientific” education research.

He suggests that the fundamental property of hard science research is its predictive power, a property that can equally be applied to large- and small-scale and quantitative and qualitative research in education.

The author concludes that although fields like physics or chemistry are mature sciences, the “cutting-edge” work in these fields is often “messy,” as researchers struggle to determine which variables are important.
He suggests that education research often resembles the patterns seen in cutting-edge research in the “hard” sciences, as researchers are struggling to identify variables that are important to the problem.

Updated: Jul. 23, 2014