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Linking Research and Practice in Education and Social Work: Some Implications for Methods of Inquiry

Presenter: Dr John Ainley, Deputy CEO (Research) of the Australian Council for Educational Research and Research Director of its National and International Surveys Program.

Respondent: Professor Raewyn Connell, University Chair in the University of Sydney.

Time: 4:30-6:30pm, 5 March 2009 (refreshments at 4:30pm for 5:00pm start)

Venue: 351, Education Building (A35), The University of Sydney

Abstract of the presentation, by John Ainley

The phrases “evidence-based policy” and “evidence-based practice” have widespread currency. The best interpretations of these terms are that both the fruits of systematic inquiry will be used as the basis for action and the tools of systematic inquiry will be applied in local contexts to evaluate policy and practice. This presentation starts from a perspective in which social inquiry is characterised in terms of the source of problems to be investigated (in practice or in scholarship) and the destination of findings of those investigations (for practice or for scholarship). It then considers the extent to which differences in the sources of problems and the intended destination of findings have implications for the way research questions are formulated (including links to theory), the methods used in investigations (including sampling designs) and the reporting of findings (including questions of effect size and significance). The presentation discusses examples from a number of studies in education to illustrate choices that are made in investigations.

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