What is the current situation of educational reality? How to establish what should be intervened in and how to enhance, modify and improve educational practices? How do you know if a teaching methodology works?
These are just some important questions of educational research that seeks to advance in this sector and, in this way, improve as a society. Since, as Confucius said, education generates confidence. Trust generates hope. Hope generates peace. As the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget stated :
“Only education is capable of saving our societies from a possible collapse, whether violent or gradual.”
How to carry out research in education?
Research in education can be defined as any research technique that allows us to analyze various aspects of the teaching-learning process or intervene in said process to optimize it. In this way, pedagogical and didactic issues that are key to proposing actions to improve educational quality and shaping educational policies can be analyzed.
In order to answer the initial questions that allow us to draw and generalize conclusions and propose educational improvements at a national or international level, it is necessary to carry out reproducible research (as long as the same data is analyzed, the same result is reached) and replicable (if the same investigation, the new data must be consistent with that obtained in the original investigation); For this reason, it is important to carry out studies systematically.
The stages of research in education
Research in education must follow a series of stages, which may vary depending on the nature of the problem or the context in which it is carried out:
- Problem detection: in general, it usually begins with the detection of a problem or the establishment of a question that we want to answer.
- Objective and hypothesis: after an analysis of the previous research carried out in this regard, a research objective and a hypothesis (assumption of the possible conclusion) are established.
- Methodology: to achieve this objective and study whether the hypothesis is correct, the methodology is established, that is, how the study will be carried out, what variables will be examined, what population it is aimed at, how the information will be obtained, etc.
- Data collection. Next, we proceed to collect the data that will be analyzed using statistical methods that allow conclusions to be drawn and, in the best of cases, generalizations to be made.
- Conclusion and dissemination: to conclude, research in education must be disseminated through a report, article or presentation, since research that is not shared is as if it had not been carried out.
The establishment of the methodology is one of the key factors to be able to draw conclusions that allow advancing scientific knowledge. In educational research, interviews are normally carried out, discussion groups are formed, systematic observations are carried out, or surveys or evaluations are carried out.
A research in concrete education
In our research group on mathematical and scientific competence through active methodologies, we are interested in evaluating this competence in teachers and defining the main difficulties in their teaching process.
In this way, we seek to propose teaching strategies, based on active methodologies, that help improve the mathematical and scientific competence of students at different educational levels (from kindergarten to primary school).
For this reason, we are currently conducting research that allows us to analyze the beliefs and attitudes of mathematics teachers, active or in training, of different levels of study, from preschool to high school.
With this research we hope to be able to describe the main difficulties that teachers and future teachers may have in the teaching-learning process of mathematics and how they propose to solve them.
Thus, we want to answer different questions such as: What relationship do teachers and future teachers have towards mathematics? What emotions does this subject generate in you? Is there any correlation between your current relationship with mathematics and your way of organizing your teaching process in the classroom? What methodologies do you use in your teaching process? Is there a difference between teachers of different academic grade levels? And between current teachers and future teachers?
Active or in-training mathematics teachers who wish to do so can respond to our questionnaire , which investigates their relationship with the subject, their emotions towards it, the methodologies used or the differences between active teachers and those in training. .
With the results obtained in this research in education we will be able to propose, in the future, didactic strategies that improve the competency approach in the teaching-learning process of mathematics and thus contribute to the educational improvement of this specific area of knowledge.
Author Bios: Ainhoa Arana Cuenca is a Professor of Didactics of Mathematics and Experimental Sciences and Marta Curto Prieto is a Professor of the Department of Didactics of Mathematics and Experimental Sciences both at UNIR – International University of La Rioja