While many research findings are criticized for this reason, research attention in the field of education is rarely directed at independent replication. Too often promising outcomes mark the end point of a research endeavor, rather than the beginning of a research effort aimed at replication and scientific generalization.
Finally, to be broadly useful to practice, attention must be sustained through careful study of the scaling up of successful interventions. When researchers design and study educational interventions, the process of study itself entails involvement by the researchers. The tacit and explicit knowledge of the researcher may support the teacher’s effective use of the intervention. Similarly, an expert teacher’s tacit knowledge and skill may be crucial to an intervention’s success. But when the original researcher and teachers are no longer present, the innovation is often much harder to implement and sustain. Thus, the requirements for effective, sustainable use of an innovation must themselves be the subject of study.
Whether in teaching or in medicine, practice is not embodied solely in the tools and protocols of the trade. Rather, these work in tandem with both the practitioner’s knowledge and skill and the organizational environment. One shudders to imagine a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine provided to doctors in a hospital with no more than an instruction manual on how to use it. Patients trust that doctors will be thoroughly versed in an understanding of the diagnostic power of the tool, the meaning that can be drawn from its images, and the confidence one can have in the information it provides under various circumstances. One also trusts that the organizational structure in which the physician operates will both appropriately support and impose standards on its use.
Similarly, in education, professional practice relies on all three simultaneously and interdependently: the tools and protocols designed for student learning, practitioner knowledge,