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An Elusive Science: The Troubling History of Education Research cover
  • ISBN: 9780226467726
  • ISBN10: 0226467724

An Elusive Science: the Troubling History of Education Research

by Lagemann, Ellen Condliffe A

  • List Price: $25.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publish date: 01/01/2000
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Since its beginnings at the turn of the twentieth century, the science of education has been regarded as a poor relation, reluctantly tolerated at the margins of academe, and too often spoofed and criticized by policy makers and the public. In this sophisticated, provocative history of education research, Ellen Condliffe Lagemann explains how and why this came to be.

Starting with the establishment of education as a distinct discipline, Lagemann shows how the field, in a misguided effort to be "scientific", turned away from the holistic and deeply social and pragmatic vision of John Dewey. Already victims of low status because of their association with teachers, education researchers moved away from policy and practice toward an excessive emphasis on quantitative measurement and narrow, behaviorally oriented conceptions of education.

Lagemann's engaging book chronicles the consequences of this turn: the traditions, conflicts, people, and institutions that have shaped the study of education over the past century. From the development of standardized tests, to the panic occasioned by Sputnik, she takes the reader into the last half of this century when the federal government came to see education research as a tool for increasing equality. Lagemann argues that its requirements for program evaluation resulted in an improved understanding of the education policymaking process. Yet, ironically, these evaluations provided grist for the mill for the Reagan administration, which slashed federal funding to education research just as it had begun to mature. Lagemann's critical history uncovers not only where education research may have gone astray but the promising directions it may be takingin the future.

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