The Scientist-Practitioner: A Boulder Model for Education

The Scientist-Practitioner: A Boulder Model for Education

Karee E. Dunn (The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Knoxville, TN, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJAVET.2015100105


The purpose of the current work is to present a case for the need to train all graduate students in the field of education in quantitative methodology. The premise for this position is that practitioners like researchers benefit from such training. Through an understanding of research design and statistics, teachers, school leaders, counselors, etc. may become scientist-educators who engage in evidence-based practice, engage in strong educator-researcher collaborations, and possibly join the professoriate and prepare the next generation of scientist-educators. The underlying theme of the article is the extension of the Boulder Model from psychology, the scientist-clinician model, to education in order to benefit all educational practitioners and those with whom they work.
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For this special issue, I was asked to provide my perspective as an academic who trains many practitioners, engages in research, and supports the training of all future education researchers and practitioners in quantitative research methodology. My nomination for authoring this piece was related to my position as an educational psychology applied theorist, primarily trained in quantitative research methodology that engages in both quantitative and qualitative research, but also understands the singular difference between my level of understanding of research methodology and that of a research methodologist. In other words, I know enough to know what I do not know, with what I need help, and to have a solid grasp on the level of understanding an educational practitioner may need to reach optimal success.

In addition, I have taught introductory research methods and statistics to graduate students enrolled in a variety of graduate education programs (e.g., work force development, counseling, higher education, leadership), and I have also taught required coursework for teacher preparation that touches on test development and interpretation as well as other facets of evidence-based practice in the K-12 classroom. In addition, I have worked with practicing teachers and school leaders to grapple with how best to engage in data-driven or evidence-based decision-making. This situates me in a unique position to understand to some degree what educators know, what they do not know, and what they need to know to achieve optimal success in practice.

First, I would like to note that this conversation is not unique to education, and the conversation regarding the need for practitioners to be trained as researchers is by no means new. In fact, a parallel debate has existed in the field of psychology when World War I caused a tremendous rise in the need of clinical psychologists and led to a movement to establish national standards to meet the subsequent needs for psychologists after World War II. This discussion culminated in a conference regarding graduate training programs for clinical psychologists at the Boulder campus of the University of Colorado, resulting in the inception of the Boulder Model or the scientist-practitioner model in 1949 (Baker & Benjamin, 2000). In addition to reviewing the Boulder Model and transferring its key tenets to the scientist-educator, I will also discuss the importance of including quantitative methodology course work in graduate education programs to improve future educator-researcher collaborations and to prepare future academicians.

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