Education research denialism

I read a thought-provoking article called “Education research denialism in university STEM faculty” at the Small Pond Science1 website. The author, Terry McGlynn, lists out the common denials given by the science deniers, e.g., climate change not caused by humans, vaccines cause autism, etc. As science teachers we can shake our heads at these irrational denials.

Then Dr. McGlynn lists some of the denials he has heard from science faculty with regard to educational research. Below is a selection of some of these denials. Based on research evidence these have been shown false.   

  • If a lecturer is good, then student attention span does not wane over the course of an uninterrupted hour-long lecture.
  • If you ask a question to your class, students learn just as much from volunteering to answer by raising their hand, compared to having all students discuss their answer with the person sitting next to them.
  • Active learning methods increase student learning only if the professor isn’t good at lecturing.
  • Whether a professor is likable does not affect student learning.

Have you heard these denials? As a high school chemistry teacher, are you a denier of educational research? It is a question worth pondering. I recommend you read the entire article and keep up with — and believe — educational research just as you do with the latest advances in chemistry.

1. Small Pond Science website is about how scientists research, teach and mentor in all kinds of academic institutions, including teaching-centered universities.  [JLH]