Research is an integral part of the education system and higher studies. Research is considered as an activity which is often conducted by the professionals, managers and the policy makers; however, it is also an academic activity which encompasses the process of learning, obtaining information and developing new theories or hypothesis to contribute to the present knowledge (Cabral and Huet, 2011). Therefore, it is important to promote the notion of research among the young scholars. In higher studies, if the education is not about research then it is about ideology or dogma which is dangerous to the education system. The students should be capable of conducting independent enquiries and use principles of rationality for verifying the knowledge. They should not accept the facts as it is, but probe it for its validity. The inclusion of the research in the education system will imbibe the research ability among the young students which will be beneficial for the students as well as for the society.
Research can assist a student in making sound and evidence-based judgments and assist the educationalists and teaching professionals in enhancing their subject knowledge and provide rationale to the students regarding several key concepts. Despite research being a draining process that requires serious efforts from the researcher, the learners or the students who wish to learn frequently use it to expand their knowledge horizon. Research is also beneficial for socially responsible enquiries. In the views of Reeves, Herrington and Oliver (2005), in higher education system, the research should not be focused on the curriculum or delivery medium but should also focus on instructional strategies and tasks. In the educational research, the research design plays a critical role in the socially responsible inquiry. It can enhance the quality of the education system and promote use of computer and similar technologies in research (Reeves, Herrington and Oliver, 2005).
Research in education is also important because, a teacher cannot involve in effective teaching if he does not have knowledge of the current research. The implementation of engaging and effective learning in classroom requires teacher’s knowledge of the subject, ability to implement relevant teaching strategies and assessment methods. In addition to it, the teacher should also have knowledge regarding the learning styles of the different students and develop teaching strategies according to it. A teacher cannot offer effective education by depending solely on theory or practice; therefore, the teachers should have creative abilities to combine both theory and practice in classroom experience. Therefore, the teacher’s ability to conduct research regarding the newest technology and the teaching pedagogy is essential for education. Therefore, it can be critiqued that, research holds a high importance in education (Stafford, 2006).
The research leads to modifications in the systems or methods and their transformation to superior techniques. In the context of the educational research, the changes can appear in pedagogy techniques such as teaching methods or strategy, for instance, the use of online education instead of classroom method. The research in education will result in adoption of more effective or efficient teaching practices. In higher education, research could assist in examining data collection method, synthesis methods or research paradigms. There are numerous research methods, designs and research paradigms. In research based study, the students develop cognitive skills to select the most-appropriate research tools and paradigms for the research. It assists the young students to develop their own viewpoints about certain processes and natural phenomenon about the subjects they are researching. Therefore, it is essential in the development of the cognitive and the critical thinking ability of the students (Pramodini and Sophia, 2012).
In educational setting, the research will assist the students in understanding the key concepts and the complex theories in a much better and easier manner. If the students inculcate the habit of researching, they are almost always learning new things, examining and synthesizing information and use their critical thinking in every situation. As for the teachers, they make learning personalized experience. Teaching methods are almost always influenced by the personality of the teachers. Using research in teaching will assist the researchers in learning about the research methodologies and taking informed decision’s regarding their teaching style (Pramodini and Sophia, 2012).
Although education research is important; however, the essential criterion for good educational research is that it should be able to provide practical solutions to the educational problems. It should be important in terms of its delivery otherwise no one will adopt it as well as it should be able to connect with the perception of the students. However, demanding that the research should be important is a vague criterion as sometimes the importance of the research is realized later or only after it has been completed. The research fund controllers can control access to the research funds to achieve their own short-term goals due to this ambiguity (Oancea and Pring, 2008).
One of the primary goals of the education research is to enhance the life of the students and assist them in the challenging professional life. Since the present business environment is highly competitive and challenging, it is important for the teachers to be involved in the professional development activities of the student. Research provides the teachers, the opportunity to get involved in the reflective educational practices and to examine the areas where more efforts are required. However, most of the research in the education is focused on enhancing the educational experience of the students. Previously, the educational practices were focused on behavioral learning which are now focused on cognitive development of the students. The educational enthusiasts are trying to develop new methods to help students develop feelings regarding the subject; assist the students to focus their learning on important topics and creating learning communities wherein the students and the teachers can develop their knowledge. However, most of the educational research is focused on students and very less attention has been paid to the teachers in their role in developing learning experience to the students (Putnam and Borko, 2000). The knowledge, teaching method and teaching strategy of the teachers plays a critical role in the student’s learning. Further, it can be said that the teachers are the most influential factor in the student’s learning.
Hine (2013) has proposed the importance of the action research in the teacher educational programs. It provides the teachers a way to conduct systematic reflection to identify the areas that need improvement. Action research can be defined as a process of conducting systematic inquiry which is targeted at addressing some social issues. The features of this research technique are that it is cyclic and collaborative in nature. In this research method, through repeated cycles of observation and reflection, individuals try to improve their social skills. In the education system, action research can be used to study a specific school situation so that the quality of the education system can be improved. The educationalists can use action research to understand the key problems and improve educational practices and resolve educational and classroom issues. Therefore, in the education system, action research can uplift the lives of the children as well as improve the lives of the teaching professionals. Action research can be used by the teachers to enhance their subject knowledge and promotes reflective practice which eventually develops the teaching practices (Hein, 2013).
However, teachers play a very limited role in the development of curriculum, modification and innovation. As per the present approach, the curriculum developers are equipped with the control of changing curriculum and the teachers have to modify their teaching strategy or method to address the changes in the classroom behavior. It is a typical top-down approach, which is often criticized for the relative low success level of the curriculum reforms. It is important to include the beliefs, views and the practical knowledge of the teachers in the development of the curriculum. The practical knowledge of the teachers is developed mainly due to their experience in the teaching profession. The teachers have immense knowledge regarding which pedagogical technique is effective in engaging students; deliver its intent or the correlation of the teaching methods with their learning outcomes. Thus, the practical knowledge of the teachers is highly critical for the educational reforms. However, capturing this knowledge is very critical. In order to capture this knowledge, development of multi-method research design is essential (Dreil, Beijaard and Verloop, 2001).
In addition to it, in several subjects like science and technology, the both practical and theoretical knowledge of the subject is necessary for effective teaching practices. Therefore, the educational research should be focused on developing methods to enhance the teacher’s knowledge and professional development. The knowledge captured in the educational research can be used in forming long-term professional development programs for the teachers. Other strategies for the development of the knowledge of the teachers are learning in groups, coaching, collaborative learning, knowledge exchange between peers and the use of cases. In this way, the teacher can share their knowledge and improve their practical knowledge (Dreil, Beijaard and Verloop, 2001).
In the recent years, the span of the educational research has expanded; however, their capability of gathering new knowledge has reduced over the years. In most of the comparative studies, the results obtained signify that there is no significant difference between different instruction techniques. In this regard, many social science researchers are trying to use new research methods to overcome the limitations of the past methods. These methods such as in-depth interview or discourse analysis are effective in gathering new information in comparison to experimental or comparative studies. These methods are especially useful in obtaining information regarding distance education. It can be used to identify the challenges in the distance education and the key variables associated with it (Saba, 2000).
Another major challenge in the higher education research is that it requires analysis of large samples. In higher education research, the most common survey sample design is stratified sampling wherein the targeted population is stratified at different dimensions and oversampled. In these sampling designs, different lower level entities (students) and integrated with higher level entities (college) to reduce the sampling error and enhance its efficiency. However, this feature as well as oversampling reduces the efficiency of research outcomes. The oversampling is the process of ignoring unequal probability of the target population selection. It can create problems while making inferences from the collected data. In the educational research, the data in its raw form is non-representative of the population to which they are representing which is generalized by various sampling techniques. In addition to it, the clustering error is also a common issue that introduces type-1 error in the educational research. These errors can be mitigated if sample weights are used in the sampling and making adjustments due to the clustered nature of the sample. Complex survey software can be used to mitigate these errors (Thomas and Heck, 2001).
Conclusively, it can be stated that research in higher education is significant for improving the education system and effective education delivery. Research is an academic activity that involves the process of learning, contributing to the knowledge and developing new theories. When a student learns to research, he develops the ability to use his critical thinking skills and cognitive thinking in examining new facts and developing knowledge. Imparting research education to the students is therefore important. In addition to it, education research is also important for the effective teaching. The teachers can use reflective practices to examine the best-suitable teaching pedagogy. With the research, the educationalists will learn about latest pedagogical techniques and methods and can use them in their teaching. Action research method is a suitable method for the teachers to develop their teaching practices. However, in the recent years, most of the educational researches are comparative studies. These studies do not yield any important information in regard to the educational research. Therefore, the researchers are moving to new research methods such as in-depth interviews and discourse analysis. Another major challenge in educational research is that it requires large sample which introduces error in the research outcomes. These errors can be reduced by using appropriate error control strategies.
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