You are on page 1of 3

*The intention of this book is to introduce readers to different research traditions, with the advice that ‘fitness for

must be the guiding principle: different research paradigms for different research purposes.

Research Approaches - interpretive, naturalistic, phenomenological, interactionist and ethnographic.

Foundations on which different kinds of empirical research are constructed: scientific and positivistic methodologies,
naturalistic and interpretive methodologies, methodologies from critical theory, and feminist educational research.

Educational research, politics and decision-making are inseparably linked, and it draws attention to the politics of
educational research and the implications that this has for undertaking research.

Three types of reasoning: deductive reasoning (based on the syllogism), inductive reasoning and the combined
inductive-deductive approach.

*Syllogism – ex. All planets orbit the sun. The earth is a planet. Therefore the earth orbits the sun. / until Renaissance
lang then na-diminished na because it was no longer related to observation and experience and became merely a mental

Inductive reasoning – proposed by Francis Bacon in 1600, the method by means of which the study of a number of
individual cases would lead to an hypothesis and eventually to a generalization.

Combined inductive-deductive - involved in a back-and-forth process of induction (from observation to hypothesis) and
deduction (from hypothesis to implications).

Research - the systematic, controlled, empirical and critical investigation of hypothetical propositions about the presumed
relations among natural phenomena. (Kerlinger, 1970)

Three characteristics: systematic and controlled (based on inductive-deductive model), empirical (subjective, personal
belief has to have a reality check against objective, empirical facts and tests) and self-correcting (procedures and results
are open to public scrutiny by fellow professionals).

Nominalism - general ideas are names without any corresponding reality.

Ontology - dealing with the nature of being.

Realism - the attitude or practice of accepting a situation as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly.

Positivism - recognizing only that which can be scientifically verified or which is capable of logical or mathematical proof.

Epistemology - concern with methods, validity, and scope, and the difference between justified belief and opinion.

Voluntarism - the principle of relying on voluntary action.

Determinism – all events have causes.

Idiographic - study of particular scientific facts and processes, as distinct from general laws.
Nomothetic - relating to the study or discovery of general scientific laws.

The assumptions and nature of science – determinism (all events have causes), empiricism (knowledge can only derive
from experience), parsimony (things are connected in the simplest or most economical way), and generality (having
general rather than specific validity or force).

Five steps in the process of empirical science: experience, classification, quantification, discovery of relationships, and
approximation to the truth.

Theory - a set of interrelated concepts, definitions, and propositions that presents a systematic view of phenomena.
(Kerlinger 1970)

Types of Theories (Morrison, 1995a) – [1] empirical, [2] critical and [3] grand (the formal organization and arrangement of
concepts takes priority over understanding the social world.

Characteristics of an effective empirical theory: [1] A theoretical system must permit deductions and generate laws that
can be tested empirically; that is, it must provide the means for its confirmation or rejection, [2] Theory must be compatible
with both observation and previously validated theories. [3] Theories must be stated in simple terms; that theory is best
that explains the most in the simplest way. [4] Theory should have considerable explanatory and predictive potential. [5] A
theory should be able to respond to observed anomalies. [6] A theory should spawn a research enterprise. [7] A theory
should demonstrate precision and universality, and set the grounds for its own falsification and verification, identifying the
nature and operation of a ‘severe test’. [8] A theory must be operationalizable precisely. [9] A test of the theory must be

Tools of Science: [1] Concepts - a word representing an idea. [2] Hypothesis – ‘an educated guess’.

Two Criteria for ‘Good’ Hypotheses: [1] hypotheses are statements about the relations between variables. [2] hypotheses
carry clear implications for testing the stated relations.

Importance of Hypotheses as Tools of Research: [1] they organize the efforts of researchers. [2] the working instruments
of theory. [3] they can be tested, empirically or experimentally, thus resulting in confirmation or rejection; and there is
always the possibility that a hypothesis, once supported and established, may become a law. [4] powerful tools for the
advancement of knowledge.

Criticisms on Positivism and the Scientific Method - *revolt against positivism in Europe in the 2nd half of the 19th century.
*a reaction against the world picture projected by science which, it is contended, undermines life and mind. *defines life in
measurable terms rather than inner experience, and excludes notions of choice, freedom, individuality, and moral
responsibility. *regards the universe as a living organism rather than as a machine.

Additional Criticisms - *against existentialism (emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible
agent determining their own development through acts of the will), Søren Kierkegaard. *science, in its search of
objectivity, is a form of separation from our true selves and from nature. Roszak. *scientism silences an important debate
about values, informed opinion, moral judgements and beliefs. Scientific explanation seems to be the only means of
explaining behavior. It makes for a society without conscience. Habermas and Horkheimer.

Alternatives to positivistic social science: naturalistic approaches

The anti-positivist movement has influenced those constituent areas of social science of most concern to us, namely,
humanistic psychology, social psychology and sociology.

A question of terminology: the normative and interpretive paradigms

The normative paradigm contains two ideas: first, that human behavior is essentially rule-governed, and second, that it
should be investigated by the methods of natural science. The interpretive paradigm, in contrast to its normative
counterpart, is characterized by a concern for the individual.

Phenomenology - the study of direct experience, determined by the phenomena of experience rather than by external,
objective and physically described reality.

Two phenomenological movement: transcendental phenomenology (Husserl) and existential phenomenology (Schutz)

Transcendental - ‘Back to the things!’ finding out how things appear directly to us rather than through cultural and symbolic
structures. In other words, we are asked to look beyond the details of everyday life to the essences underlying them.
Existential - concerns itself with the experiences and actions of the individual, rather than conformity or behaviour.

Ethnomethodology - examines how individuals use everyday conversation to construct a common-sense view of the
world. Seeks to understand social accomplishments in their own terms.

Symbolic interactionism - the view of social behavior that emphasizes linguistic or gestural communication and its
subjective understanding, especially the role of language in the formation of the child as a social being.

Critical theory and critical educational research - a philosophical approach to culture, that considers the social,
historical, and ideological forces and structures which produce and constrain it. Its intention is to realize a society that is
based on equality and democracy for all its members.

Feminist research - seek to overcome biases in research, bringing about social change, displaying human diversity, and
acknowledging the position of the researcher.