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The Case for Pragmatic Evidence-Based Higher Education: A Useful Way Forward? / Phil Newton; Ana Sergio Da Silva; Sam Berry
Frontiers in Education, Volume: 5
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Arguments for and against the idea of evidence-based education have occupied the academic literature for decades. Those arguing in favor plead for greater rigor and clarity to determine “what works.” Those arguing against protest that education is a complex, social endeavor and that for epistemologi...
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Arguments for and against the idea of evidence-based education have occupied the academic literature for decades. Those arguing in favor plead for greater rigor and clarity to determine “what works.” Those arguing against protest that education is a complex, social endeavor and that for epistemological, theoretical and political reasons it is not possible to state, with any useful degree of generalizable certainty, “what works.” While academics argue, policy and practice in Higher Education are beset with problems. Ineffective methods such as “Learning Styles” persist. Teaching quality and teacher performance are measured using subjective and potentially biased feedback. University educators have limited access to professional development, particularly for practical teaching skills. There is a huge volume of higher education research, but it is disconnected from educational practice. Change is needed. We propose a pragmatic model of Evidence-Based Higher Education, empowering educators and others to make judgements about the application of the most useful evidence, in a particular context, including pragmatic considerations of cost and other resources. Implications of the model include a need to emphasize pragmatic approaches to research in higher education, delivering results that are more obviously useful, and a pragmatic focus on practical teaching skills for the development of educators in Higher Education.
pragmatism, evidence based education, active learning, professional development, teacher training, learning styles, higher-education
Swansea University Medical School