Foundation for Educational Thought Experiment Research (FETER)Posted: August 25, 2015
I have just have an amazing idea that I reckon will help a lot of folks out.
At present, if you wish to promote a faddish teaching method then you have one of two options:
- Just tough it out. Make lots of colourful diagrams, generously lace your presentations with jargon and simply ignore the fact that there is no evidence to support your position.
- Conduct a badly controlled experiment. Vary more than one factor at a time in such a way that you can imply that the experiment shows evidence for one factor – the method you wish to promote – even though any difference between experimental and control groups is likely to be due to one of the other factors. Of course, you could just not have a control group.
However, it strikes me that there is a highly attractive alternative; the use of thought experiments. Thought experiments are potentially limitless; you can run them as many times as you want in order to generate whatever statistical power you wish. This means that you will no longer have to rely on using tortured relativist logic to try to explain why quantitative studies are for losers.
Moreover, thought experiments are unconstrained by the capriciousness of reality. Once you have decided what you want a thought experiment to demonstrate then it’s just a simple case of making-up some sort of description of it and a set of results. We could even farm this out to the internet. The Foundation could harness the disruptive technology of distributed collaboration. Busy consultants can offer up a research question to the network and a host of cognitive empiricists could set to work pretty much straight away.
[Post inspired by @sblakey]