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Free Content What is research? Educators’ conceptions and alignment with United States federal policies

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This study draws on two communities theory to address two major research questions related to conceptions of research in educational practice and policy. First, how do educators conceptualise research? Second, to what extent do educators’ conceptions of research align with recent US federal educational policies? We conducted 90 semi-structured interviews with educators in the US, asking them what comes to mind when they think of research. We used open, axial, and selective coding to characterise educators’ conceptions of research. We also compared educators’ conceptions of research to two US federal educational policies that define scientifically-based research and evidence-based interventions. Findings indicate that educators and policies defined research in similar ways, but each included some unique characteristics. Implications from the study include the need for increased communication between federal policymakers and educators and improved reporting by researchers to better attend to the needs of educators and policymakers.
key messages

We examine how 90 US educators define research and how these definitions align with federal policy.
Educators’ definitions of research reflected two major themes: process and products.
Educators’ definitions of research were broad, while policy definitions were narrow and precise.
Findings have implications for both federal policymakers and educational researchers.
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Keywords: definitions of research; educational policy; educators ; research evidence

Affiliations: Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA

Appeared or available online: January 25, 2019

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