The work of our panel, however, was to focus on learning and instruction. The committee that proposed a design for the SERP organization considers organizational issues to be of critical importance, as do we, and argues for a network on schools as organizations as a companion to the learning and instruction network from the start. To avoid mounting a research program that could otherwise be narrow and insular, it is essential that these two networks be closely tied as intended.
The committee considered two common strategies for organizing the research agenda: one focuses on specific subject areas taught in schools (science, history, etc.), and the other highlights research questions that cross subject domains (integrated assessment, teacher education, etc.). Much of the work on cross-domain issues is relevant regardless of the subject. This would include, for example, research on the relative effectiveness of professional development tools (like videotaped demonstrations, small group lesson study, etc.).
The proposed agenda embraces both, embedding the cross-cutting issues in subject-matter research. The rationale for this choice stems from the overarching commitment to focus on practice. We have argued that research is often not used in practice because it is not elaborated at the level of classroom practice, and classroom practice is subject specific. Furthermore, many of the cross-cutting issues are best illuminated with subject-specific examples. While the productive role that high-quality assessments can play in supporting effective instructional practice crosses topics, a deep understanding of the issues can be seen clearly in looking at a specific case, like the Force Concept Inventory described in Chapter 4.
The organization described in the Strategic Education Research Partnership is one in which regular stock-taking and coordination across research domains is given a high priority. In the panel’s view, this coordination will be central to maximizing the potential of the program of research and development. Throughout the chapters that follow, the parallels across subjects are striking, and much can be learned if those engaged in different