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The problem to be solved

Prepared by John Church, PhD, School of Educational Studies and Human Development

University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

The teaching activities which occur in classrooms have changed little during the past 80 years – a fact which has been documented many times. Compare this with the very considerable scientific and technological advances which have occurred in almost all other professions during the 20th century. Unlike medical practice, where the traditional craft philosophy of patient care was gradually replaced by the revolutionary new clinical science during the first half of the 20th century, teaching practice has remained, to this day, a craft largely untouched by the scientific research on learning and teaching.

It does not need to be this way. Very considerable advances have been made in the scientific analysis of both learning and teaching. However, it is true that the scientific research into learning and teaching is buried under a mountain of pre-scientific research. This makes the scientific research difficult to find and difficult to use in the development of more effective classroom teaching practices and programmes.

In this book we examine the nature of the problem to be solved, examine what would count as evidence-based practice, ask whether a move from craft-based to evidence-based practice is possible at this time, and identify some of the conditions which will need to be present before a change from craft-based to evidence-based practice is likely to occur.