Educational effectiveness: A necessity

Conferences on research and creation, initiated by the Research Office of Campus Saint-Jean, continued, November 29, 2015 as the Assistant Professor of Education Psychology, Jerome St-Amand, addressed the question of the necessity of educational effectiveness.

17 December 2015

"This is an area of research that is very important for teachers and heads of education departments," Mr. St-Amand declared in front of thirty people gathered for the occasion.

According to him, the area of research on educational effectiveness (Educational Effectiveness Research, ERA) was developed in response to the research by Coleman et al. (1966) and Jencks et al. (1972) aimed at examining the equality of educational opportunity in the United States at a time when racial segregation was rampant.

Without undermining the importance given to quality education, these researchers nevertheless suggested that the school contributed considerably to student learning. In this context, academic achievement was somehow pre-determined by certain variables such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity or family background, to name a few, highlighting the fact that school played a secondary role.

Research background

Professor St-Amand explained later that the field of EER, historically, is classified in four distinctive phases with specific characteristics. The first phase was primarily aimed to demonstrate the variability of the effectiveness of schools and teachers; in other words, "researchers to trigger learning within students at that time, had to highlight schools and teachers that stood out of the lot."This first phase was directly in response to the aforementioned reports.

In the late 1970s, the second phase of EER helped in identifying the first efficiency factors directly associated with student learning. Edmond's report (1979), for example, is repeatedly cited to illustrate the second phase of this research area. "This report identified five key factors associated with student learning, as follows : ( 1) effective educational leadership, (2) high expectations for students, (3) an emphasis on basic skills, (4) an orderly and safe climate, and (5) a regular assessment of students' progress," Jerome St-Amand noted.

The third phase had the objective to improve the understanding of the influence of certain variables on educational effectiveness. Three theoretical frameworks, each aiming to explain why and how certain features contribute to the educational effectiveness, have been considered in this phase: (1) economic orientation, (For example, the influence of material and financial resources); (2) the sociological orientation (For example, peers influence, ethnicity, student gender, socioeconomic status); and (3) psychological orientation (For example, motivational influence, student ability).

The Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology concluded the explanation of the historical background situating the search field within the current scientific perspectives: "We are right now in the fourth phase where attempts to establish links between research on efficiency factors and research on how to improve socio- educational environments."

Professor St-Amand raised the point that, nowadays, when it comes to research on educational effectiveness, better known under the English terminology Educational Effectiveness Research, "the emphasis is on the expression of Educational Effectiveness, instead of Teacher Effectiveness and School Effectiveness, to emphasize on the importance of conducting studies combining school effectiveness and educational efficiency; a combination that could help identify and better understand the interactions between variables from class, school, and individual levels , as well as their potential influence on student learning. Finally, it is important to note that the EER refers to the overall functioning of the school system and can therefore be used to develop models of efficiency, "he explained.

Research Prospects

Referring to the book So Much Reform, So Little Change (Payne, 2008), Jerome St. Amand believes that "it is very difficult to understand why so much effort dedicated to educational reforms have such mixed results "he said.

The assistant professor also intends to focus his next research on educational ineffectiveness (School ineffectiveness) and specifically on the decline in education (School decline), defined as "the decrease in the ability of school to contribute positively to student achievement. Studies on academic decline are indispensable to understand the dysfunction of schools, "the researcher said.

And it is in this viewpoint that Professor St-Amand intends to examine how the dynamics in the long run of social relationships among teachers and students from effective and ineffective schools in a linguistic minority context.