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Keynote: "Evidence, one more time: Towards a critical role for evaluation research" by Gert Biesta, School of Education, University of Stirling, UK

Discussions about the role of evidence in professional practices and, more specifically, about the development of evidence-based professional practice, seem to have become less heated and less prominent than they were about a decade ago. In some cases this is because the idea of evidence-based practice has become near-hegemonic, so that there is actually little left to discuss - which is where developments in a field such as social work seem to have gone in a number of countries. In other cases practices have turned out to be much more resistant to the call to transform themselves into evidence-based operations - which seems to be the situation in the field of (school-)education in many countries. In addition, politicians may have come to realise that to really base politics and policy on research evidence is actually much more complicated than that they may have assumed. In my presentation I will focus on what this evolving and increasingly divergent 'landscape' of evidence-based professional practice implies for and requires from research and, more specifically, from evaluation research. To do so I will, on the one hand, analyse some of the assumptions that continue to inform discussions about the role of evidence in professional practices - and here I will particularly focus on assumptions about professional action, about knowledge, and about the relationship between facts and values. On the other hand I want to look at the wider question of the actual role of research knowledge in the (trans)formation of professional practices. Here I will suggest that those areas that are often taken as prime examples of evidence-based practice -medicine and agriculture - are actually less the outcome of the application of research knowledge in particular practices and more about the incorporation of such practices in the 'logic' of particular forms of research. This raises far more fundamental questions about what research is actually doing but also about what it might do. Against this background I will, in conclusion, make a case for a renewed emphasis on the critical task of research and more specifically evaluation research - both with regard to a wide range of different professional practices and with regard to the knowledge society more generally.

Mehr über Prof. Gert Biesta finden Sie hier.

Zuletzt geändert: 15. May 2017

Prof. Gert Biesta


Gert Biesta ( is Professor of Education and Director of Research at the School of Education, University of Stirling, and Visiting Professor for Education and Democratic Citizenship at Mälardalen University, Sweden. He is editor-in-chief of Studies in Philosophy and Education and founding co-editor of Other Education: The Journal of Educational Alternatives.  He conducts theoretical and empirical research on a range of topics and is particularly interested in the relationships between education, democracy and citizenship. He publishes on the theory and philosophy of education (with a particular interest in pragmatism, deconstruction and complexity theory); civic learning of young people and adults in formal and informal settings; vocational education; teacher education; adult education and lifelong learning; education policy (particularly with regard to lifelong learning and citizenship education) and the theory and philosophy of educational and social research (with a particular interest in questions concerning knowledge and evidence, and mixed methods/mixed designs). His work has been published in English, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, German, Spanish, Russian, Romanian, Polish, Catalan and Chinese. He was a Spencer Post-Doctoral Fellow with the National Academy of Education, USA from 1995 to 1997, received honorary doctorates from Uppsala University (2004) and Örebro University (2007), and was awarded the International Francqui Professorship by the Francqui Foundation, Belgium (2010), for his work in the field of civic learning.

Some recent publications:

Biesta, G.J.J. (2010). Good education in an age of measurement: Ethics, politics, democracy. Boulder, Co: Paradigm Publishers.

Osberg, D.C. & Biesta, G.J.J. (eds) (2010). Complexity theory and the politics of education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Goodson, I., Biesta, G.J.J., Tedder, M. & Adair, N. (2010). Narrative learning. London/New York: Routledge.

Biesta, G.J.J. (2011). Learning democracy in school and society: Education, lifelong learning and the politics of citizenship. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

James, D. & Biesta, G.J.J. (2007). Improving learning cultures in Further Education. London: Routledge.

Biesta, G.J.J. (2006). Beyond learning. Democratic education for a human future. Boulder, Co.: Paradigm Publishers.

Biesta, G.J.J. & Burbules, N. (2003). Pragmatism and educational research. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Biesta, G.J.J. (2010). An alternative future for European educational research. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Historiographie 16(1), 105-107.

Osberg, D.C. & Biesta, G. (2010). The end/s of education. Complexity and the conundrum of the inclusive educational curriculum. International Journal of Inclusive Education 14(6), 593-607.

Biesta, G.J.J. (2010). Why ‘what works’ still won’t work. From evidence-based education to value-based education. Studies in Philosophy and Education 29(5), 491-503.

Biesta, G.J.J. (2007). Why ‘what works’ won’t work. Evidence-based practice and the democratic deficit of educational research. Educational Theory 57(1), 1-22.

Biesta, G.J.J. (2010). Valuing what we measure or measuring what we value? On the need to engage with the question of purpose in educational evaluation, assessment and measurement. In W. Böttcher, J.N. Dicke & N. Hogrebe (Hrsg.), Evaluation, Bildung und Gesellschaft: Steuerungsinstrumente zwischen Anspruch und Wirklichkeit (pp. 35-46). Munster: Waxmann.

Biesta, G.J.J. (2010). Evidenz und Werte in Erziehung und Bildung. Drei weitere Defizite evidenzbasierter Praxis. In H.-U. Otto, a. Polutta & H. Ziegler (Hrsg.) What Works - Welches Wissen braucht die Soziale Arbeit? (pp.99-115). Opladen: Barbara Burdich.

Biesta, G.J.J. (2010). Pragmatism and the philosophical foundations of mixed methods research. In A. Tashakkori & C. Teddlie (Eds), Sage handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioral research. Second edition (pp. 95-118). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 

Zuletzt geändert: 15. May 2017