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An Elusive Science

The Troubling History of Education Research

Since its beginnings at the start of the 20th century, educational scholarship has been a marginal field, criticized by public policy makers and relegated to the fringes of academe. An Elusive Science explains why, providing a critical history of the traditions, conflicts, and institutions that have shaped the study of education over the past century.

"[C]andid and incisive. . . . A stark yet enlightening look at American education."—Library Journal

"[A]n account of the search, over the past hundred or so years, to try and discover how educational research might provide reliable prescriptions for the improvement of education. Through extensive use of contemporary reference material, [Lagemann] shows that the search for ways of producing high-quality research has been, in effect, a search for secure disciplinary foundations."—Dylan William, Times Higher Education Supplement

320 pages | 1 line drawing, 6 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2000

Education: Education--General Studies, Higher Education

Table of Contents

Introduction - A Slow Evolution: Education Becomes a Subject of University Research
The Feminization of Teaching
Conflict and Competition: High Schools, Normal Schools, Colleges, and Universities
Part I - In Quest of Science: The Early Years of Education Research
1. Reluctant Allies: Psychologists Turn to Education
G. Stanley Hall and the Child-Study Movement
Clark University: "The Perfect Non-University of G. Stanley Hall"
William James’s Search for Vocation
Psychology and Education at Harvard
From Child Study to Child Hygiene
2. Specialization and Isolation: Education Research Becomes a Profession
John Dewey’s Youth and Early Career
Dewey at the Laboratory School
A Creative Community: The Social Sources of Dewey’s Thought
Edward L. Thorndike: "Conquering the New World of Pedagogy"
Thorndike and Teachers College: A Reciprocal Relationship
Dewey Displaced: Charles Hubbard Judd at the University of Chicago
3. Technologies of Influence: Testing and School Surveying
The History and Philosophy of Education: From Center to Periphery
Dignity amidst Disdain: Ellwood Patterson Cubberley and the First Generation of Scholars of School Administration
Leonard P. Ayres, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the School Survey Movement
The Cleveland Survey
Lewis M. Terman and the Testing Movement
Consensus and Community: A Science for School Administration
Part II - Cacophony: Curriculum Study During the Interwar Years
4. Politics, Patronage, and Entrepreneurship: The Dynamics of Curriculum Change
The Scientific Study of Society
Child Interest
The Teachers College "School System"
Denver, Colorado, Teachers Study the Curriculum
The Emergence of a New Specialization: Curriculum and Instruction
Social Reconstructionism and Its Transformation
5. Developmental Perspectives: Critics Challenge Determinism in Education
The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Fund
Nature versus Nurture : The Iowa Child Welfare Research Station
The Progressive Education Association’s Eight-Year Study
Ralph W. Tyler: From Mental Measurement to Evaluation
Human Development: The PEA’s Commission on Curriculum and Human Relations
Class, Caste, Mobility, and Cultural Bias: The University of Chicago Committee on Human Development
The Educational Testing Service
Part III - Excellence and Equity: The Continuing Problems and Potential of Education Research
6. Contested Terrain: The Disciplines versus Education
The "New Math"
The National Science Foundation
Jerrold R. Zacharias and the Physical Sciences Study Committee
The Process of Education: "St. Jerome’s Gospel"
From the History of Education to History and Education
The Theory Movement in Educational Administration
7. Gaining Ground and Losing Support: The Federal Role in Education Research
The Cooperative Research Program
The National Assessment of Education Progress
James S. Coleman and Equality of Educational Opportunity
Title I Evaluation Studies
The Nationa Institute of Education
8. Promoting Learning and Reform: New Directions in Education Research
The Beginnngs of Cognitive Science
The Center for Cognitive Studies at Harvard
Cognition and Education
Qualitative Methods and Interpretive Studies
New Links between Research and Practice
Systemic Research
Conclusion: Toward the Reconfiguration of Educational Study
Problems of Status, Reputation, and Isolation
Problems of Governance and Regulation
What’s to Be Done?

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