Applied Research in School Settings: Common Challenges and Practical Suggestions
Researchers who have not conducted research in school settings often approach me with proposals for projects that they would like
to conduct within local school systems. Their view is that children are a captive audience in schools and because there are large numbers of children in school during the hours that their research staff is most available, it stands to reason that it must be a convenient site for research. Both conclusions are naive. Yes, many students will agree that they are a captive audience; but the research team is not the captor. And I have heard experienced school-based researchers voice a number of descriptors for research in school settings, but “convenient” is not one of them. Given the challenges of conducting research in school (and other applied) settings, the ideal research question is one that is best answered in a school setting, rather than one that could, such as questions about educational interventions or processes, or social interactions that relate to group settings.