Researchers often lament the inattentiveness of practitioners to research findings, and some have sought ways to make their research more useful as well as more accessible to people who interact directly with children. In this chapter I argue that the typical research approach of studying isolated qualities of children and contexts can make findings difficult to apply in complex real-life settings inhabited by whole children.
Most studies assess very specific cognitive or social-motivational outcomes. Studies of factors in the environment that affect child outcomes are also usually very focused. Thus, research reports tend to provide information suggesting the effects of a narrowly defined aspect of children's experience on a narrowly defined child outcome. Furthermore, as the fields of psychology and education become increasingly complex and vast, researchers become more restricted in their expertise as well as their research focus.