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European Educational Research (Re)Constructed
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Oxford Studies in Comparative Education

European Educational Research (Re)Constructed

institutional change in Germany, the United Kingdom, Norway, and the European Union

MIKE ZAPP, MARCELO MARQUES, JUSTIN J.W. POWELL & with contributions by Gert Biesta & Jo B. Helgetun

2018 paperback 254 pages, £42.00, ISBN 978-1-910744-02-4
https://doi.org/10.15730/books.102

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About the book

This book examines contemporary educational research and its governance, addressing key questions via a multidisciplinary theoretical framework of comparative institutional analysis with original data and applying multiple methods. The authors explore and explain important changes in the governance of educational research and the contents of scholarship in education and related disciplines across Europe since the 1990s. This volume synthesizes findings from a multi-year comparative research project, including in-depth empirical case studies of three distinct educational research cultures evolving in Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom. The authors reconstruct and compare changing conceptualizations of educational research, embedded in increasingly internationalized contexts of research, and examine shifts in its governance, including patterns of funding, publication, and evaluation. They examine the producers of European educational research and the distinct role of the European Union in constructing a European Educational Research Area, in establishing cross-border networks, and in (re)shaping educational research agendas. Through innovative empirical analysis of programs of research on various levels and education researchers’ collaborations in scientific networks, they provide insights into (supra)national dynamics in education-related scholarship. Theory-guided content analysis of research projects funded by leading national funding agencies and by the most highly developed supranational research funding instrument – the EU Framework Programme – enables the authors to embed findings on Germany, the United Kingdom, and Norway in a broader European perspective.

Contents [Please click on author name for summary]

Justin J.W. Powell, Mike Zapp, Marcelo Marques, Gert Biesta Introduction. (Re)Constructing Institutional Change in European Educational Research, 7-21

Mike Zapp, Justin J.W. Powell, Marcelo Marques Theorizing Institutional Change in Educational Research (Governance), 23-48

Mike Zapp, Justin J.W. Powell (Re)Shaping the Educational Research Field in Germany and the Impact of International Large-scale Assessments, 49-65

Marcelo Marques In the Name of Quality! Normative Pressures and Changing Legitimacy of Educational Research through Evaluation in the UK, 67-89

Jo B. Helgetun, Justin J.W. Powell, Mike Zapp Governing Educational Research in Norway: coercion, cooperation or consensus?, 91-111

Marcelo Marques Organizational Networks in Educational Research in Europe: interconnections and stratification in the EU Framework Programme (1994-2013), 113-141

Mike Zapp, Marcelo Marques, Justin J.W. Powell Comparing Institutional Change in Educational Research Governance in Germany, the UK, Norway and the EU, 143-166

Marcelo Marques, Mike Zapp, Justin J.W. Powell, Gert Biesta Continuity and Change in Educational Research: comparing educational research contents in Germany, the UK, Norway and the EU, 1994-2015, 167-187

Mike Zapp, Marcelo Marques, Justin J.W. Powell On the Future of Educational Research (Governance), 189-200

Bibliography, 201-240

Notes on Contributors, 241-242

Index of Figures and Tables, 243-244

Index of Authors, Organisations, and Countries, 247-253

Introduction. (Re)Constructing Institutional Change in European Educational Research
Justin J.W. Powell, Mike Zapp, Marcelo Marques, Gert Biesta

This introduction presents an overview of major contemporary phenomena impacting educational research and governance in Europe. Over the past two decades, education has received considerable and increasing policy attention, in the case study countries analyzed here and globally. Political interests have not only substantially altered education systems and their governance, but also profoundly transformed the perceived goals and functions of educational research and the kinds of research to be promoted. This book analyzes the substantial changes in educational research governance on multiple analytical levels – organizational, national, and supranational – as well as interactions between levels. Organizationally, the reactions of university departments to governance modes and instruments underscore the legitimacy of government interventions in research planning and programming. At national level, in both larger and dominant research systems in Europe (Germany, the United Kingdom) and smaller systems (Norway), international organizations and national policymakers have influenced the reshaping of educational research, affecting these contrasting educational research traditions and organizational fields. Supranationally, the European Union’s Framework Programme represents the most important driver in the Europeanization of research policy in terms of direct funding instruments, affirming its influence as a supranational regulatory body through setting research agendas and creating the conditions for the establishment of networks of scholars producing European educational research.

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Theorizing Institutional Change in Educational Research (Governance)
Mike Zapp, Justin J.W. Powell, Marcelo Marques

This chapter emphasizes certain dimensions of complex institutional change processes in educational research and its governance, in particular focusing on ideas, mechanisms and actors. Three broad ideas – of internationalization, quality and relevance – propel many of the change processes identified and charted in the three national case studies and at supranational level. Cultural-cognitive, normative and regulative processes and mechanisms often operate jointly or in ways that span the boundaries between the institutional pillars of ideas, norms and policies. A panoply of state and non-state actors at various levels increasingly interact in emerging governance and scientific networks. This institutional analysis identifies ideas, mechanisms and actors most important in each given context and the extent to which these contribute to reproducing or changing the institutional order. Importantly, the various identified mechanisms span multiple scholarly traditions concerned with analyzing education-related scholarship, higher education and science systems, and research policy that have, thus far, not been sufficiently synthesized. The cultural-cognitive mechanisms reflect the diffusion of ideas and are examined by means of neo-institutional organizational sociology; the normative mechanisms are understood by building bridges between sociology of science and studies of research evaluation; and the regulative mechanisms are analyzed by adapting questions raised by scholars of higher education and research governance relating to the field of educational research.

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(Re)Shaping the Educational Research Field in Germany and the Impact of International Large-scale Assessments
Mike Zapp, Justin J.W. Powell

Over the past two decades in Germany, educational research (ER) and its governance have undergone unprecedented changes. Among the key drivers are increased participation in large-scale assessments, such as the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and generally increasing interest in evidence-based policy-making, quality assessment and internationalization. This chapter traces processes of the institutionalization of ‘empirical educational research’ from the ‘PISA shock’ in 2000 through the establishment in 2012 of the multidisciplinary Society for Empirical Educational Research (GEBF), which attempts to rival the long-standing German Association for Educational Science (DGfE) for authority in this nascent organizational field of ‘empirical educational research’. In policymaking, the direct involvement of national decision-makers in agenda-setting in (educational) research has led to the establishment of new organizations, programs, funding structures, professorships and training programs. These factors have led to the emergence of a markedly different field of educational research – devoted to empirical, mainly quantitative, research – that contrasts with the traditional philosophy-rooted, hermeneutics-oriented and humanities-based German pedagogy or educational science.

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In the Name of Quality! Normative Pressures and Changing Legitimacy of Educational Research through Evaluation in the UK
Marcelo Marques

The United Kingdom’s elaborate peer-review-based research evaluation system, currently named the Research Excellence Framework (REF), has far-reaching normative effects on educational research, in particular that produced by scholars in universities. Based on nearly two dozen interviews with key organizational actors in the field of British educational research and a content analysis of the organizational identities of 54 departments of education that had all participated in the last three rounds of the RAE (Research Assessment Exercise)/REF, it uncovers the ways in which the RAE/REF introduced and enforced new normative pressures within the field of educational research and how its members have responded to such pressures. It finds normative isomorphic pressures evident in researchers’ increasingly strategic behaviors and the entrenchment of research evaluation terminology in transformed organizational identities of departments of education across the United Kingdom. The findings for university-based educational scholarship reflect wider normative trends of commensuration and value amplification in contemporary science systems.

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Governing Educational Research in Norway: coercion, cooperation or consensus?
Jo B. Helgetun, Justin J.W. Powell, Mike Zapp

Educational research in Norway, over the past two decades, has benefited from massive investments in capacity-building. Simultaneously, the state-dominated, policy-driven restructuring of higher education and research funding has considerably influenced the organizations in which educational research is produced – and the types and forms of research that are valorized, especially through the comprehensive database of Norwegian publications. Applying a neo-institutionalist framework, this chapter addresses the governance of educational research in Norway, emphasizing especially the regulative pillar and mechanisms. The analysis uncovers the crucial expansion and elaboration of national ‘programmification’ of education-related scholarship. Programmification describes the planned creation and strategic use of state-funded, long-term and large-scale research programs with the purpose of altering the structural and cognitive status quo of a discipline or field of research. Such intervention aims to reorient scholarship towards more international and quality-oriented publication and enhance societally relevant applications of educational knowledge and practices. The authors argue that Norway is the exemplary case of such intervention in terms of program duration, depth and volume – with capacity-building and agenda-setting carried out through various levels of governance.

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Organizational Networks in Educational Research in Europe: interconnections and stratification in the EU Framework Programme (1994-2013)
Marcelo Marques

This chapter’s longitudinal social network analyses uncover both the evolution and network structure of educational research in the European Union’s Framework Programme (EUFP), the most expansive supranational funding policy instrument in the world. With the inclusion of social sciences in the EUFP in 1994, new opportunities for funding and international network-building of European educational research were established. Because the extent and effects of such structuring remain undiscovered, this chapter analyzes the organizational networks of European educational research projects funded from 1994 to 2013 (FP4 to FP7). Based on this comprehensive sample of EU educational research projects (N=99) and participating research organizations (N=500), this analysis innovatively explores the interconnections between research organizations in their regional, national, and organizational diversity across Europe. The results show that while the size of the countries helps to explain the number of research organizations that participate in the EUFP, the capacity to become central and influential is linked to organizational factors. Indeed, universities from medium and small countries are relatively more influential, albeit with stratification manifest across the EUFPs. The network analyses raise questions about the dynamics of research internationalization strategies at the organizational and disciplinary levels and the relative status and relationships of (supra)national funding programs.

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Comparing Institutional Change in Educational Research Governance in Germany, the UK, Norway and the EU
Mike Zapp, Marcelo Marques, Justin J.W. Powell

Previous chapters stressed selected themes, such as internationalization, quality and relevance, and mechanisms, from the cultural-cognitive and normative to the regulative, that were found to be most salient in the individual cases. While such a narrower analytical focus facilitated more in-depth insights into the particularities of specific processes within each case, this chapter presents a broader perspective that seeks to do justice to the similar and dissimilar features that add up to a more complete and complex picture of the transformation of educational research and its governance across Europe over a quarter century. To compare change processes and mechanisms, this chapter summarizes the results of within-case analyses in a comparative matrix, built upon the theoretical cornerstones and analytic categories identified earlier that situate the three country cases and the European Union (EU) in relation to each other.

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Continuity and Change in Educational Research: comparing educational research contents in Germany, the UK, Norway and the EU, 1994-2015
Marcelo Marques, Mike Zapp, Justin J.W. Powell, Gert Biesta

This chapter turns to the research itself, its outcomes and its findings. It presents a content analysis of a comprehensive sample of educational research projects from Germany, the United Kingdom, Norway and the European Union – funded through specific research programs. Its analytical framework is based on key categories, including the levels, objects, methodologies and themes present in educational research (ER) projects. The analysis uncovers the extent to which programmatic educational research mirrors the traditional trajectories of ER in the three national cases as well as the shifting contours of educational research at the European level. The findings show a mixture of continuities and changes in these diverse dimensions of ER. While distinctive national profiles in scholarship on education are still present, isomorphism is also found in the themes and the selected ways to analyze and understand pedagogy and learning processes.

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On the Future of Educational Research (Governance)
Mike Zapp, Marcelo Marques, Justin J.W. Powell

This final chapter summarizes the book’s arguments and highlights its contributions to educational research and studies of educational governance and research policy. The discussion is embedded in wider contexts of educational, political and scientific transformations, and directions are sketched for future research on the topic. The focus is on three future developments – namely, further, yet moderate, expansion of educational research infrastructure and output; growing isomorphism in the kinds and formats of educational research produced; and further momentum for internationalization and Europeanization. These patterns and trends are strongly intertwined and reinforce each other. This book provides scholars and students from a wide range of disciplines interested in educational contents and actors, education systems, and governance and policymaking alike with novel analyses of the current state of research on education in contrasting national contexts and in Europe as a whole.

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Bibliography

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Notes on Contributors

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Index of Figures and Tables

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Index of Authors, Organisations, and Countries

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Contributors

Gert Biesta, PhD, is Professor of Education at Brunel University London and NIVOZ Professsor for Education at the University of Humanistic Studies, the Netherlands. He has published extensively on the theory and philosophy of education and on educational and social research, including The Beautiful Risk of Education (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2014), winner of the AERA Division B Outstanding Book Award.

Jo B. Helgetun, MA, is Doctoral Research Fellow in the Institute for the Analysis of Change in Contemporary and Historical Societies at Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium. His current research focuses on the national trajectories of education policy reform and their embeddedness in the global education policy field.

Marcelo Marques, MA, is Doctoral Research Fellow in the Institute of Education and Society at the University of Luxembourg. His current research focuses on institutional change in educational research in England and on the processes of the Europeanization of education.

Justin J.W. Powell, Dr. phil., is Professor of Sociology of Education in the Institute of Education and Society at the University of Luxembourg. His research centers on the comparative institutional analysis of education and science systems. Recent books include Comparing Special Education (Stanford University Press, 2011; with J.G. Richardson), which received an Outstanding Book Award (AERA Division B, 2012); and The Century of Science: the global triumph of the research university (Emerald, 2017; co-edited with D.P. Baker and F. Fernandez), given the Award for Significant Research on International Higher Education (ASHE, 2017).

Mike Zapp, Dr. phil., has been Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Institute of Education and Society at the University of Luxembourg since 2014 and is currently Visiting Research Fellow in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. He is interested in the international diffusion of institutional models in education and research with a special focus on the role of international organizations.

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