Gutierrez, K. D., & Penuel, W. R. (2014). Relevance to practice as a criterion for rigor, Educational Researcher, 43(1), 19-23.
In this article, Gutierrez and Penuel discuss the need for a focus shift to the problems surrounding the practice of teaching and education. They feel that in order for educational research to be considered meaningful, equitable, and rigorous, studies need to examine “…why, how, and under what conditions programs and policies work.” They describe some new programs at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and share that in order for these programs to be successful they need to relevant to practice. Guterrez and Penuel also discuss interventions and the challenges involved with studying their effectiveness and giving them generalizability and sustainability. They also discuss the need for new models in research and development in order to truly be relevant to practice.
The authors share realistic challenges involved with ensuring that educational research is relevant to “classroom” practice, such as natural disruptions, revisions, and many social and environmental factors including various stakeholders’ opinions and experiences. They discuss some of their personal ideas for addressing these issues such as timely stakeholder meetings held well in advance of proposal submissions. Also, Gutierrez and Penuel mention innovative research models used by others to build relevance such as the “change laboratory”. Their thoughts on the difficulties encountered with generalizability of interventions are also useful and they offer practical solutions for the root of the problem- sustainability.
I find this article relevant to my research endeavors because of their particular discussion of interventions. As a middle school interventionist I encountered many of the issues they discuss from a practice standpoint. I hope to research assistive technology and technology as a method for differentiation and I think this ties directly to interventions. As more interventions become technology-based, I think it will be essential to find relevant models for evaluating the effectiveness of these interventions and figuring out how to make those programs and resources sustainable.