Postpositivism and Educational Research

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
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This volume presents in a forthright and lively way, an account of the philosophical position generally identified as 'Postpositivistic' that undergirds much of mainstream research in education and the related social sciences. The discussion throughout is informed by recent developments in philosophy of science. Authors D. C. Phillips and Nicholas C. Burbules cite a number of interesting examples from the educational research and evaluation literature to illustrate the value of a scientific approach. Many educational researchers aspire to carry out rigorous or disciplined inquiry aimed at producing accurate (and generally 'truthful') accounts of educational phenomena and the causal psychological or social processes that lay behind them. However, many recent critics have argued that it is a mistake to believe that research can yield theories, or advance claims that are true, objective, and value-neutral. In other words, that researchers always work within frameworks that embody important (and often questionable) assumptions about values and the nature of human knowledge. This book argues that , while there is much to be learned from recent critiques, traditional scientific values and assumptions are not outmoded. The authors show students how to implement and benefit from the scientific method in ways that take into account recent critiques.
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About the author

D. C. Phillips is professor of education and philosophy and associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Education at Stanford University. Nicholas C. Burbules is professor of education at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is also editor of the journal Educational Theory.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
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Published on
Mar 22, 2000
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Pages
176
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ISBN
9781442202702
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / Research
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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This handbook focuses on the often neglected dimension of interpretation in educational research. It argues that all educational research is in some sense ‘interpretive’, and that understanding this issue belies some usual dualisms of thought and practice, such as the sharp dichotomy between ‘qualitative’ and ‘quantitative’ research. Interpretation extends from the very framing of the research task, through the sources which constitute the data, the process of their recording, representation and analysis, to the way in which the research is finally or provisionally presented. The thesis of the handbook is that interpretation cuts across the fields (both philosophically, organizationally and methodologically).

By covering a comprehensive range of research approaches and methodologies, the handbook gives (early career) researchers what they need to know in order to decide what particular methods can offer for various educational research contexts/fields. An extensive overview includes concrete examples of different kinds of research (not limited for example to ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’ examples as present in the Anglo-Saxon tradition, but including as well what in the German Continental tradition is labelled ‘pädagogisch’, examples from child rearing and other contexts of non-formal education) with full description and explanation of why these were chosen in particular circumstances and reflection on the wisdom or otherwise of the choice – combined in each case with consideration of the role of interpretation in the process.

The handbook includes examples of a large number of methods traditionally classified as qualitative, interpretive and quantitative used across the area of the study of education. Examples are drawn from across the globe, thus exemplifying the different ‘opportunities and constraints’ that educational research has to confront in different societies.

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