Research news and comment: Of squalls and fathoms: Navigating the seas of educational innovation

Patricia A. Alexander, P. Karen Murphy, Bradford S. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


In this commentary, we outline two responses to the question of why educational innovations come and go with such regularity. The first response we term "Doing What We Know". This explanation relates to educators" tendency to focus on issues that are relatively familiar, easier to communicate, and seemingly more controllable than those that are perhaps more fundamental to the difficulties characteristic of teaching and learning. The second response we forward pertains to educators" rather limited knowledge of the people, movements, and writings that underlie many recurring innovations. It is argued that paucity of knowledge contributes to potentially superficial implementation of highly touted innovations, as well as to a general inability to tap into the roots of these educational innovations. In as much as this is the case, it is much more likely that those responsible for the construction or implementation of such innovations may overlook the rich histories that can inform and enhance current educational practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-39
Number of pages9
JournalEducational Researcher
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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