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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Dr Andrew Davis

Davis, A.J. (2017). It worked there. Will it work here? Researching teaching methods. Ethics and Education 12(3): 289-303.

Author(s) from Durham


‘It worked there. Will it work here?’ We have to be able to identify the ‘it’ in that aphoristic question. Classifications of teaching methods belong in the social realm, where human intentions play a fundamental role in how phenomena are categorized. The social realm is characterized with the help of John Searle. Social phenomena are often open to interpretation, rather than definitive verdicts. The nature of the social limits the possibility of consistency in how teaching should be classified, which in turn limits the viability of standard quantitative empirical research into effectiveness. Either classifications of teaching are very broad, which robs them of a researchable identity, or they are more specific, which can undermine their credentials as true teaching. So-called ‘Direct Instruction’ is a case in point.