What is an Educational Researcher?

An educational researcher is an academic professional who researches problems by reviewing literature, creating a study, collecting data and forming an interpretation of the information. This results in a report that is shared with target audiences and evaluated by the educational community. In other words, an educational researcher uses organized approaches to asking and answering academic questions.

What Do Educational Researchers Do?

They are primarily responsible for the collection and analysis of data through surveys, interviews, focus groups, on-site tours and classroom observations. They also provide leadership for projects while working with other academic researchers and school administrators. Educational researchers help set up focus groups by recruiting and selecting participants as well as taking notes and providing updates. They are the ones tasked with designing and directing surveys, then analyzing the resulting qualitative and quantitative data. Educational researchers conduct one-on-one interviews, classroom observations and visits to academic head offices. They need experience producing professionally-written reports and applying analytical skills such as merging and manipulating large data sets.

What is Their Educational Background?

The minimum educational requirement for an educational researcher is master’s degree in education research, research evaluation or research measurement. The master’s degree in education is the most popular program because it offers specializations in statistics, survey research and qualitative research. The degrees in research evaluation and research measurement focus more on graduate lectures, traditional coursework and comprehensive exams. These graduate degree programs train students how to use measurement tools to assess tests and evaluate educational data as well as statistical methodologies to evaluate research. All three programs offer similar coursework that teaches research methods, data collection methods, parameter estimation and inferential statistics. Because of competition and limited job openings, many educational researchers now pursue doctorate degrees.

Educational Research Basics

Educational researchers may query very different topics, but they all follow the three basic research tools. First, quantitative research uses inferential and descriptive statistics to answer straightforward “what?” questions. Second, qualitative research uses thematic and descriptive analysis to answer “why?” questions. Third, mixed methods used integrated and multi-method approaches to answer subjective and non-numerical questions, such as the best way to assess student achievements. When it comes to any type of research there are primary and secondary sources. Empirical research on educational topics focuses on systematic observations of contained experiments and original content that is peer-reviewed through popular journal articles and academic paper, according to the American Educational Research Association. Educational researchers primarily use primary research that is obtained through research databases of journal articles.

Why Educational Researchers Matter

There are many reasons why schools, students and the public need a continuous flow of quality educational research. First, it improves academic practices by presenting proven methods that are empirically documented. Second, it enriches knowledge bases regarding the learning process and the educational system. Third, it addresses serious knowledge gaps in areas such as how technology impacts learning or how online students perform compared with traditional classroom students. Fourth, it positively contributes to appreciating diversity and understanding cross-cultural psychology. This is because most of educational research before the 1980’s was conducted on upper, middle class white students.

Related Resource: Educational Assessment Designer

An educational researcher provides insight and actionable data regarding every facet of the academic experience for all ages.