It is still possible for research teams to pull together various forms of information about classroom life to make statements about effective curricula and pedagogies that leave audiences of colleagues, administrators, parents, community members, and students confident that the claims are justified. Critical theory, by virtue of its stance opposing ultimate truths, is not exempt from supporting its claims about the relative merits of pedagogical practices when it enters into the world of educational scholarship. We still need research to help us understand the outcomes associated with the decisions we make about what to teach and how to teach it in literacy classrooms. Critical research implies different tools, different experts, and different processes of making sense of the information we collect, but the imperatives of designing and investigating innovative classroom practice are still important to acknowledge and to address.
When it's done well, critical literacy research in diverse classrooms can document learning and change across at least three domains. First, we can collect data that tell us something about identity development. That is, critical research in literacy classrooms can help us to understand how literacy education can Merrell Shoes help students see themselves as intellectuals; as readers, writers, and speakers; as users of new media tools; as affirmed members of ethnic or linguistic minority roups, cultures, and communities; or as members of particular gendered groups or socioeconomic classes. Macro-level research that looks only at standardized outcomes misses much of this story. We could have students who are improving in standard measures of achievement yet feeling worse about themselves, and who are becoming alienated from the groups that define their identity outside of the school site. By the same token, we could have interventions that show demonstrable changes in identity development that have not yet yielded significant differences in academic achievement.
Critical literacy researchers are also able to do far more with the analysis of students' cultural and textual production. When student work products are analyzed from a critical perspective, we are able to look at these not just as evidence of the development of academic skills; but also we can examine the substance of this work to understand how students are learning to think differently about the world and their place in it. Furthermore, critical research enables us to expand the notion of what we mean by student work to include student action, particularly action for change. This will help our field to answer a second important question: How do Discount Merrell Shoes we know that students are learning? Critical research can and should provide not only answers to these types of questions, but also methods for arriving at the answers. For example, if we define learning as changing participation over time in communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Oakes & Rogers, 2006) and we explore the ways that students are developing and enacting their own models of engaged citizenship inside of English classrooms, we may need to look outside of traditional research measures to find this information, and we may need to employ students as more than merely the objects of research if we are to learn all that we can about possibilities for empowerment inside of literacy classrooms.