Monday, November 03, 2008

Research Whose Results I Believe

From the NYT:

A study of nearly 7,000 students at 38 institutions published in the current PS: Political Science and Politics, the journal of the American Political Science Association, as well as a second study that has been accepted by the journal to run in April 2009, both reach similar conclusions.

“There is no evidence that an instructor’s views instigate political change among students,” Matthew Woessner and April Kelly-Woessner, a husband-and-wife team of political scientists who have frequently conducted research on politics in higher education, write in that second study.

Why do I believe this? Because other research has had a lot of trouble finding an effect of school characteristics and teachers on measurable outcomes of educational attainment, why should ideology be any different?

2 comments:

Admiral said...

The results are counterintuitive. In any event, I'm not sure this addresses the fundamental point, which isn't *necessarily* that instructors' politics don't lead to change, but rather, if it wasn't for their politics, WOULD there be change?

Perhaps the bias of the instructors dampens the change that would naturally occur from being more informed. The question, in the end, ought to be one of opportunity cost, not causation.

Matt E. Ryan said...

Given a fair distribution of ideology, of course, this is just the reverse of the coin.

I wonder if they controlled for learning in classes by political ideology-- in my experience, those that have the most outlandish political positions are the most fervent, and this energy could lead to increased learning. Maybe, maybe not...I'm curious if anyone has looked at that.