Editor's Note

Editor's Note: Experts in Research?

By John E. Desrochers

Volume 44 Issue 5

By John E. Desrochers

Sooner or later, someone is going to ask you for your opinion about a research study. That happened to me last fall when my friend Steve brought up a story he had read in the newspaper about a study showing that, while most published research featured statistically significant findings, when those studies were replicated, relatively few had the same result. He wondered what that meant for the amount of faith we could put in psychological research.

After joking that he was the first layman ever to ask me about statistics in psychological research, I uttered a few phrases about the problems with peer review, the need for repeated replication studies, and some other pearls of wisdom that I now can’t recall. He seemed vaguely satisfied, but I certainly was not. I should have been able to do a better job of responding to questions about a research discussion in the common press!

The NASP Practice Model emphasizes our expertise in research, both as a practice that permeates all aspects of service delivery (Domain 1: Data-Based Decision Making) and as a specific area of knowledge (Domain 9: Research and Program Evaluation). This makes sense to me: I have always thought that, despite the great deal of overlap in expertise between school psychologists and other education professionals, we are distinguished by our open reliance on science as the foundation of our practice. Indeed, over the years, I have had occasion to share and interpret research with my educator colleagues about reading instruction, sensory integration, computerized cognitive training, and other topics of discussion in schools. But my conversation with Steve made me realize that I need a review of basic concepts and at least introductory knowledge of some of the newer, more commonly used approaches in modern research.

When I asked contributing editor Matt Burns if he would be willing to solicit articles that would help practitioners be better able to interpret research, his response was, “Are you kidding? I would love to!” So today, we launch a new series on School Psychologists as Consumers of Research with a refresher course on good old analysis of variance. Later entries in the series will discuss such topics as structural equation modeling, single case design, qualitative research, and (in Steve’s honor) reproducibility in research. My New Year’s resolution is to read each one of these articles and try to apply what I learn to my everyday practice. I think Steve would be proud of me.

I hope you enjoyed the holiday season and were able to refresh a bit and reconnect with what is truly most important in our lives. On behalf of everyone at Communiqué and in NASP, I wish you a very happy New Year!

—John E. Desrochers