Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Education Research

Education research looks into the needs, causes, structures, and outcomes of teaching and learning, with a rigorous commitment to research design and interpretation, validity, and reliability (see resources below).

The field is comprised of a broad scope of scholarship that examines the learning processes within education. More specifically, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) defines education research as “the scientific field of study that examines education and learning processes and the human attributes, interactions, organizations, and institutions that shape educational outcomes. Scholarship in the field seeks to describe, understand, and explain how learning takes place throughout a person’s life and how formal and informal contexts of education affect all forms of learning. Education research embraces the full spectrum of rigorous methods appropriate to the questions being asked and also drives the development of new tools and methods” (www.AERA.net/Education-Research).

Education research usually begins with the formulation of a research question. Researchers then design a study and select the appropriate methodology to investigate the question. Education research studies are usually classified into three research methods, each containing more specific research designs.
When interpreting research results, it is important to consider some factors that could impact internal validity, external validity and possible measurement error.
Reliability methods in higher education ensure that assessments accurately measure student knowledge. Reliable scores help students grasp their level of development, and help instructors improve their teaching effectiveness. Instructors can make reliability methods transparent to motivate student efforts and assure them of accuracy.
Validity of measurement is defined as the interplay between the proposed interpretations of scores, and test administrators' experience and contextualization of scores. Validity is the joint responsibility of the methodologists that develop the instruments and the individuals that use them.