I'm currently taking a class with Misti Sato entitled "Teaching Theory and Research" (along with 4 other courses and 3 research projects, ugh). One of this week's readings was a Lee Shulman piece that has really helped me conceptualize my research priorities (citation below).
My training straddles two departments: Curriculum & Instruction and Educational Psychology. The research paradigms/agendas in each take different approaches to educational research and I've been struggling to choose between (or bridge) them. Here, Shulman's thinking (while always extremely lucid) is quite helpful, even more than 20 years removed from the original publishing.
The synoptic model that he uses to describe research programs has allowed me to do two things: (1) determine where in the "world" of research on teaching my interests lie, and (2) see what other aspects of teaching research I can consider (or ignore).
My interests really lie in what Shulman calls the "Student Mediation" research paradigm. With ideological roots in cognitive and social psychology, this approach is concerned with how and why students learn from the curriculum and instruction presented to them. On this model, it focuses on how students' thoughts and feelings are related to teacher actions and students' subsequent behavior and capacities. My interests in particular are about how students make sense of science curriculum and instruction, how aspects of science content and reasoning interact with this sense-making, and how we can measure the capacities that we intend to teach to students.
I've been rather fortunate in my graduate school selection to have Keisha and Sashank Varma come to the University of Minnesota the same year as me. Their research interests are greatly shapin how I think about my own career and what is possible in this field.
I'd highly recommend this article to anyone in the field of educational research, especially if, like me, you are still trying to grasp what your research is really about.
Shulman, L. S. (1986). Paradigms and research programs in the study of teaching: A contemporary perspective. Handbook of research on teaching, 3, 3–36.