needed in establishing “virtual places” online where diverse groups could convene to reflect on how these research advances could be incorporated to improve the practices of education and learning. Such a “learning improvement portal” would provide a vital national resource, guiding research-informed improvements of education.
The research efforts proposed herein represent a serious effort to combine the strengths of the research community with the insights gained from the wisdom and challenges of classroom practice. Our suggestions for research do not assume that basic research should first be conducted in isolation and then handed down to practitioners. Instead, we propose that researchers and practitioners work together to identify important problems of inquiry and define the kinds of research and communication strategies that would be most helpful to both groups.
Because of our emphasis on bridging research and practice, many of the efforts proposed here are nontraditional. They combine research and development, rather than undertaking the two separately. It is our view that such combined efforts are most likely to focus the attention of researchers on problems that are central to education, and they are more likely to ensure rigor and consistency with the principles of learning in the programs and products that are developed.
Moreover, many of the efforts combine research and communication. Often, the two are considered separate domains. But the goal of communication is learning, and this volume provides guidance for effective communication. For each audience, preconceived understandings must be identified and addressed in the effort to communicate. And examples that situate ideas in experiences relevant for that audience are crucial.
Combining expertise for the proposed projects will be challenging. There are still relatively few arenas in which researchers work as partners with teachers, administrators, and communications developers (who might film model lessons, develop web sites, produce brochures, etc.). But to be effective, systematic efforts to reform education will require that more of these partnerships be forged. Research and development grants that reward existing partnerships and encourage new ones to be formed could provide a much-needed impetus.
And finally, the agenda proposed is expansive. Many of the recommended projects are time-intensive, multiyear efforts. The nation’s decentralized education system is vast. To use the lens of How People Learn to evaluate the various facets of that system is in itself a daunting task. We propose in addition the development and testing of new classroom teaching tools, techniques of teacher and administrator training, further research on