Research results in teacher education and practice – the language issue

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Purpose of education research

Lots of research in education is published every year – from small qualitative case studies to large scale international comparisons. It generates new knowledge. Humans are curious creatures, so that itself is already a purpose.

Ideally, beyond that, research should also serve to improve educational practice and monitor the impact of changes.

Teachers’ use of research

Studies have shown that teachers often don’t use research results in their teaching2.

Why? Issues identified by Maclellan2 include:

  • papers are too difficult to read
  • papers lack “examples of how to apply” the research results to practice
  • teachers lack time and resources to find, read and understand research
  • researchers are pressured to publish in a specific format (e.g. high impact journals) and lack time to invest in ‘translation’ activities

The language issue

What makes a text easy? Two measures are the Flesch Reading Ease score and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score. The Flesch score can be between 0 and 1004. “A score of 60-70 indicates a reading level suitable for students in the 8th or 9th grade, and a score of 0-30 indicates a university reading level”4. Blog posts are recommended to be at the 8th to 9th grade reading level, because even many adults can’t or don’t want to read texts that are more difficult4.

Instead of improving, the Flesch Reading Ease score of academic abstracts is decreasing3.

English vs. local language

For academics, it’s “Publish (in English) or perish”1. Consequently, lots of research is published only in English. Researchers often don’t have time to translate it to the local language. This is an additional hurdle for teachers who don’t speak English on a native or near-native level.

 

 

References

1: Di Bitetti, M. S., & Ferreras, J. A. (2017). Publish (in English) or perish: The effect on citation rate of using languages other than English in scientific publications (abstract).   Retrieved from https://www.springerprofessional.de/en/publish-in-english-or-perish-the-effect-on-citation-rate-of-usin/15654642

2: Maclellan, P. (2016). Why don’t teachers use education research in teaching? education in chemistry.  Retrieved from https://eic.rsc.org/analysis/why-dont-teachers-use-education-research-in-teaching/2010170.article

3: Plavén-Sigray, P., Matheson, G. J., Schiffler, B. C., & Thompson, W. H. (2017). The readability of scientific texts is decreasing over time. eLife, 6. doi:10.7554/eLife.27725

4: Yates, L. (2017). Ultimate Guide to Blog Readability .   Retrieved from https://blogging.com/readability/

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