The academic study of Educational Research is a division of social science research that applies to the various theoretical contexts underpinning pedagogy, with particular emphasis on the measurement and evaluation of educational data. The overriding objective of Educational Research is to advance the overall theoretical understanding of education as a concept and practice. As a research-centred discipline, Educational Research requires students to develop the advanced analytical and methodological skills needed efficiently to gather and evaluate relevant data; using these skills to apply theoretical knowledge practically in real-world teaching contexts. As a result, the importance of Educational Research is on a par with that of education itself, seeing as the former is the intellectual foundation of the latter; and, moreover, seeing as pedagogical practice is in a constant state of evolution and refinement. This means that the Educational Research student plays a vital role in helping to direct the overall course of teaching theory and practice. A first rate education system after all requires solid critical foundations: ensuring that long-term curricular plans follow an optimal strategic course. This entails proffering objectives, identifying challenges and outlining solutions to those challenges: this is particularly important in light of the vast complexity of the education system, which allows of numerous distinct methodological approaches. Educational Research consequently requires the ability for abstract thinking, for identifying innovative solutions to multifaceted problems. Furthermore, Educational Research necessarily pertains to policy-decisions and the governmental apparatuses that regulate the education system. A large part of Educational Research, then, has to do with taking a critical lens to existing policy and practice, determining their efficacy; isolating those components that are useful and those that are not, and offering suggestions for reform where necessary.
Due to the data-driven nature of Educational Research, students need to be thoroughly familiar with a range of qualitative and quantitative methods, encompassing the diverse contexts that obtain in a heterogeneous field like education. This will likely include a multi-angular approach to the formal and informal aspects of education, which takes account of (among other things) classroom practice, pedagogy, evaluation, education management; touching on psychology, sociology, philosophy, cognitive theory and history. The Educational Research student, it follows, needs to be proficient in a broad range of specialties, being able to marshal insights from the various different fields to which education is subject, synthesising relevant data, and offering reasoned discussion of findings. As a researcher, one needs to be able to make a convincing argument for one’s point of view, employing critical thinking and logical argument. One also needs to be a good communicator, rendering complex evidential findings intelligible to other scholars, but also to laypersons; for educators, policy makers and members of the public. Hence the Educational Research student will need to have a solid command of English, being able to translate complex data sets into clear and lucid prose. A first rate Educational Research student unites excellent research and communication skills in order to arrive at innovative solutions to the diverse challenges at play in teaching and the education system more generally.
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