Building Applied Research Skills in Education for a Better Tomorrow in the GCC

Earlier this week EduEval was invited participate in the 2nd HCT Research Symposium: Building Networks for Research and Publishing. Dr. Christina Gitsaki, former UNESCO Chair in Applied Research in Education organized the event that focused on the practicality of conducting relevant educational research in the region … and how to connect it globally.

The conversations revolved around what kind of applied research would be helpful in the GCC, the role of the academic community and the practical nitty-gritty of conducing successful applied research projects from start to finish. As the day progressed, there were many questions about the impact of various programs and interventions.

For example, there was a long discussion about the real effect of i-pads classroom use on teacher efficacy? on student motivation? on student learning? and on student achievement?

As faculty and researchers discussed ideas, they also reflected on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) data for Dubai. Pulling from the TIMSS 2011 Science 8 results for the Cognitive Domains (Knowledge, Application, and Reasoning). Dubai was the only jurisdiction in the GCC (who participated in the international test) that – on average – reached the intermediate benchmark. As we questioned why this was the case, the KHDA report was helpful in shedding some light on these results.

The figure below taken from the KHDA report shows that when the data is redistributed by school curriculum type, only the IB, UK, and Indian and Philippine schools reach the intermediate level (on average). Sadly, the Pakistani schools are not even reaching the low benchmark.

timss dubai

As the day progressed, assumptions and perceived problems were turned into hypotheses and research questions. There was a focus on how to examine the issues identified by data and how to understand the effect of different solutions in different contexts.

The call for professional learning opportunities on how to conduct applied research in the region is getting louder among the education community. Last month, the Gulf Comparative Education Society  offered a full day of pre-conference workshops addressing research ethics, writing good research proposals, research design, educational program evaluations, and data analyses. The interest on training for educational research in the GCC spans beyond its geographical borders. Last year in the UK, the Gulf Research Meeting offered workshops on The Impact of Large-Scale Datasets on Evidence-Based Educational Policymaking and Reform in the Gulf States. And in 2011, the International Development Evaluation Association offered workshops on evaluation practices in Amman, Jordan.

Opportunities for professional learning in applied research are peppered in the GCC. There is a growing hunger among the academic and education community to develop their professional applied research skill set. This trend reflects the greater attention to results and concern for student learning and achievement in these times of major reforms.


6 thoughts on “Building Applied Research Skills in Education for a Better Tomorrow in the GCC

  1. Sonia, your morning presentation on Applied Research in the Gulf Region was extremely informative. I really enjoyed it from start to finish. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge and experience with us.

  2. The 5 drivers of quality research:
    1) Write a RESEARCH QUESTION that is specific and concrete and can be answered by collecting data (think of data collection as an exercise in listening).
    2) EXTERNAL VALIDITY (generalizability) – who is your population of interest? Can you contact a random and representative sample from this population? How well does your sample represent the population? You can generalize your findings to populations that are similar to your sample demographically. You cannot generalize your findings to populations that are dissimilar to your sample.
    3) CONSTRUCT VALIDITY – What questions are you going to include on your survey? The questions on your survey, also called items, constitute your research “instrument.” Will this instrument produce the answer to the research question you posed in step 1 above? If yes, your instrument has construct validity. If not, your instrument does not have construct validity.
    4) CONCLUSION VALIDITY – Are your statistical analysis tools the correct ones for your data? Consult a statistician to be sure.
    5) INTERNAL VALIDITY – Does your research design allow you to draw conclusions about CAUSALITY? Can you conclude that teacher quality (for example) CAUSES student success?

  3. Very informative, Sonia, and the issues raised appears very relevant to this world of highly globalized education. As an observation from the field, there are I understand a lot of things happening in schools and classrooms that should carefully be noted in evaluating various educational system approaches, frameworks and strategies. But I reserve my comments for now as it seems discussions have just started, and I am not even privy to your discussions and exchanges. Good luck on your work!

    • Thanks Allan. I think that there are multiple pockets in the region where great efforts are being made to conduct relevant good educational research. I look forward to the day when we have the operational networks so that there is systematic knowledge sharing and collaboration 🙂

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