23 SES 02 E, Research Policies and the Politics of Research (Part 1)
Paper Session: to be continued in 23 SES 03 E, 23 SES 04 E
Educational research is framed by governmental policy in two ways. One is general research policy, where government defines strategic objectives for research and use different schemes to provide funding for it. Generally some research resources are allotted as basic grants to universities and other research institutions, while others are allotted to public organisations like research councils, who then distribute them to research activities through competitive procedures. Important issues in general research policy is the balance between funds administered universities and funds administered by research as well as the balance between basic research and research funding focused on pre-defined strategic objectives. The other frame is government’s perception of research-based knowledge needed to implement the objectives decided for education; for instance knowledge needed by teachers in order for their students to be successful or knowledge about the effects of reforms. A good example of this is the strong interest that many governments have taken in evidence-based educational practice and policy, and interest that has often led to demands for specific types of educational research.
The aim of this paper is to investigate (1) how such governmental policy frames and designs emerge and what interests and powers that shape them; (2) how such frames and designs impact on different aspects of educational research – on topics or research questions pursued, on methods preferred, on publication and communication strategies. The analysis will focus on one case, Denmark, but this case will be situated in the broader context of Europe including the role of EU and OECD strategies.
During the last two decades the Danish government has been increasingly active in mapping formulating societal demands for educational knowledge, reforming institutional structures for educational research and laying out guidelines this research. Some important steps have been: Establishing the University of Education (DPU) around 2000; an OECD review of Danish educational research in 2004; a strategic educational research programme in 2007; a PhD-programme dedicated to primary education research in 2010. Some of these initiatives have been linked to more general government projects, for instance the ‘Globalisation Council’ of 2005-6, where key ministers and private sector stakeholder discussed how education could contribute to Danish competitiveness and the ‘School Flying Squad’ of 2009-10 evaluation team, established by the prime minister to check and improve the quality of primary education.
The general context of these initiatives is the perception by policymakers that Denmark is increasingly a knowledge society competing with other knowledge societies and that efficient and relevant education is vital to societal competitiveness. Thus the notions of quality, efficiency and relevance held by political ad administrative decision-makers become important for the framing of educational research. These notions draw on several sources, but one of them is no doubt the policy dialogue and consultancy work done by the EU, the OECD and related organisations. This level will also be discussed in the paper.
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