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Education Research

Posted on December 10, 2007

David Klahr (bio) talks about pursuing education research pre-tenure.


I see more senior researchers doing education research than I saw a while ago. The real question is not the senior researchers with respect to career paths. You look at the history of this field.

The people who made the really big impact, starting around the '70s in this area, and the '80s, were people who already had tenure and who felt, "Okay. I've passed that hurdle. Now I can go into this messy area where I can't publish quite such clean papers and there's always going to be some ambiguity."

So you look at people like John Bransford, or Anne Brown, or Robbie Case, John Anderson. These people had a lot of influence on the field, but they didn't go into education until they had published their Psych Bull articles, and their Psych Review articles, and their Child Development articles, and their Developmental Psychology articles.

I think those days are over. I think people are doing this pre-tenure. That's really the test. Will people from the disciplines do educational research pre-tenure without worrying, "Where is my career going to go?"

Just on the assumption that, "If the psych department doesn't like me, the School of Ed will," I can do my career in some context; that there is a career path out there.

I think the Office of Education has been very shrewd in figuring this out and making this all happen across the board, and there's other places.

NSF has a lot of Education Research money. NIH, NICHHD, is still more interested in the basic research issues, but I think they're willing to support programs that might lead to this more applied stuff later on.

Luckily, the missions of all these agencies are different. So one thing that I often tell my students is to think about the kind of portfolio of agencies out there have very different needs, and who are willing to support different kinds of work, and to try to always have a couple of grants; one of which is your basic research core; the other one is your applied research area, and you can alternate where you're putting your effort over in a cyclical basis in some way.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2007 SRCD Biennial Meeting in Boston, MA.


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