Thursday 25 August, 11:00 - 12:00
Location: O'Reilly Hall
The issue of relevancy in educational research – what do we need to know, and what is worth knowing – is crucial to address, but relevance is a complex quality to define because it is easier to recognize in retrospect than in prospect. Also, what is helpful in attaining one goal may be harmful in attaining another.
Currently, performance-based management is a frequent strategy for education reform, and economists and their research have had significant influence in policy debates. Reforms have sought to improve efficiency of education by introducing business principles of management, and research knowledge about “what works” in practice is gaining terrain while critical research has been marginalized and labelled as irrelevant among many politicians and administrators. However, at present, the issue of inequality is one of the most pressing concerns to bring to the forefront in relation to education and educational research. We know that increased socio-economic inequality and movement of people across national boundaries, creates major challenges for local communities and schools. It is also a matter of safeguarding school principals and teachers’ commitments to equity within a policy environment that increasingly requires performance-oriented forms of accountability.
How can educational research play a role in the service of equity? First, there is a need to problematize research itself, its knowledge claims, and the ends it serves in order to avoid educational knowledge that is short-sighted. It also includes recognizing that the production and assessment of knowledge are different within research than in professional work in schools. Second, it entails taking responsibility for promoting a productive dialogue with practitioners and politicians about knowledge claims grounded in rigorous research. I argue that different approaches to research, including critical studies addressing the power structures, are required to meet the challenge of relevancy in educational research. The keynote will use findings from research on educational leadership and reforms of public education to illustrate this challenge.
Jorunn Møller's professional interests are in the areas of educational leadership and governance, reform policies and accountability. She has been a manager of several research projects examining school reform, school leadership and leadership identities in Norway and across countries. Recently she has participated in a project researching the spread of New Public Management (NPM) across European education systems. She is also involved in international research networks in the field of successful school leadership. At present, she is leading a cross-disciplinary project designed to disentangle the complexity of legal standards and principals’ professional judgment.