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I have read a number of papers within the field of educational research where researchers simply used their own classes for testing. For example, they test one of their classes with a certain type of instruction, but leave another class without this instruction, then: (1) test which group of students did better and (2) collect student opinions about the lesson.

While I can understand why a teacher might conduct an "informal" study on their classroom, I cannot understand why this would regarded as publish-worthy research. It is possible that I am simply misunderstanding the benefit and purpose of publishing such studies?

Within educational research, is it regarded as acceptable practice to publish research which is only conducted on such conveniently available groups?

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Within educational research, is it regarded as acceptable practice to publish research which is only conducted on such conveniently available groups?

Sadly, yes. In fact, some of the most noted and most often quoted work on the psychology of learning was conducted by Jean Piaget on his own children.

However, there is a benefit to conducting such small studies of the type you describe. In the type of study you describe, where an instructor teaches two sections of the same course at the same institution to the same body of students that are otherwise identical except for whatever change in pedagogy the instructor desires, many confounding variables are inherently accounted for. Principal among these are the "instructor effect" and the "student-to-teacher ratio". Additionally, two sections at the same institution should be influenced similarly by demographic, socioeconomic, and academic effects on the student population.

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I don't understand why you begun with "sadly" but then followed that by listing only the benefits? –  Jase Dec 29 '12 at 2:30
    
Well, because some populations are indeed chosen only by convenience. This idea of confounding variables is relatively recent. –  Ben Norris Dec 29 '12 at 13:15
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