Week 2 Annotated Bibliography

Berliner, D. C. (2002). Educational Research:The Hardest Science of All. Educational Researcher, 18-20.

The article attempts to show the differences in research methods between what the author refers to as hard and soft sciences. In references to soft science the author is referring to physical science. The idea is that the research that is done for this type of science is easier than that of social science research. This research is deemed soft or easier because of the controlled environment in which the research is done. The author presents a case for the reasons that social science research is a hard science by showcasing a study done by Helmke. Berliner argues that Helmke’s study on evaluation anxiety concretely shows why social science is more difficult to research than physical science. The context is that with the studies varying degrees of results, which are caused by a difficulty in finding regularities in a social setting, would cause a physical scientist much distress due to the uncontrolled nature of the environment and furthermore of the results.

This article does not have a lot of strengths, but does occasionally have glimmers of greatness. The first issue is the use of the soft versus hard language. These types of phrases can be inflammatory and demeaning. The assertion that physical science has a greater amount of control in the environments in which they do their research does appear to be correct, but the degree of control over the research environment may not necessarily make the research any less difficult than the research involved in social science. Bringing in the Helmke study was helpful to give a context to what the author was trying to convey, but even with the study referenced, too many generalizations were drawn upon. Presenting a broader range of actual data of social science research versus physical science research would have helped the article appear more rooted in facts and not just hyperbole.

Berliner, David C. “Educational Research:The Hardest Science of All.” Educational Researcher (2002): 18-20.

I chose to annotate this article, because it was not a favorite and I found myself disagreeing with a lot of it. I wanted to challenge myself to find some common ground with the ideals presented and their applicability to my own interests. What I will say is that although I didn’t agree with a lot of what was presented, this article gave me pause. Reading about the difference in research methods between physical and social science helped me to have a greater context of the research that I will be undertaking. On the flip side I there is some importance to understanding what’s going on in the world of research, but I don’t think it’s of great importance to focus so heavily on another sciences method of research. The greater importance in my opinion is to improve the research methods of the science in which one is involved.


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