Are you interested evaluating current educational methodologies and trends? Do you want to help solve educational problems? Read on to learn about the field of educational research and evaluation.
Educational research and evaluation is performed by research analysts and educational administrators who typically hold graduate degrees in educational research, statistics, evaluation or measurement. Occasionally analyst jobs are available if you have a bachelor's degree in education or statistics and experience in the field being evaluated. Schools, non-profits, research institutions and governmental agencies all hire analysts to design and prepare studies, evaluate the resulting data, and produce reports based on these evaluations. This work is normally done to check the efficacy of tests, educational policies or teaching methods.
Along with excellent statistical and analytical skills, you will need good interpersonal skills to work with interviewees and colleagues. You will also need to be able to clearly explain the results of your research. There may be some travel involved to implement or oversee studies. Analysts tend to work a 40-hour week while an educational administrator's hours are generally less predictable.
As of February 2012, Salary.com reported that research directors and assistant directors at the university level earned median salaries of $83,791 and $66,086, respectively. As of May 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported average salaries for statisticians and educational administrators in support positions at educational institutions of $69,160 and $86,320, respectively (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported educational administrators in public schools earned a mean salary of $88,810 for the same time period.
Educational research and evaluation degree programs are generally offered at the graduate level. With the exception of certificate programs, most master's and doctoral programs require students to take a group of classes in a field outside of educational research. Choices might include topics in psychology, statistics, curriculum and instruction, sociology or computer science. Capstone papers, comprehensive exams and/or dissertations may be required.
Post-baccalaureate certificate programs in educational research and evaluation typically take 1-2 years to complete. They include coursework in educational measurement, evaluation of educational programs and evaluation and statistical methods in education. This type of certificate would prepare an educational administrator or testing coordinator working in a public school system to evaluate testing programs and results.
Master's degree programs will include coursework in methods of educational research, qualitative assessment and educational administration and policy. You will also study topics such as educational measurement, hierarchical linear modeling and data presentation and reporting. Earning a master's degree in educational research and evaluation would prepare you to work in research and evaluation positions in government, as well as for educational institutions, social service agencies and corporations.
Doctoral degrees in educational research and evaluation are also available. Coursework will cover topics such as multivariate analysis, evaluation of educational programs and survey research in education. You'll also need to write and defend a doctoral dissertation that you have independently researched. Doctoral programs in education can take 4-6 years to complete and would prepare you to work in research, teach at the university level or lead research teams.