3 Approaches to Educational Research

I wrote this a few months ago as an introduction to my methodology. I’m not sure that I am still using all three, but I’d be interested to hear any comments on this opinion.

“It appears to me that educational research can be loosely groups into three overlapping approaches. Much educational research has been concerned with the quest for improvement or enhancement of current practices. As a result it strives to prove causality: pointing to student feedback, attainment or other quantifiable sources as proof of effectiveness of interventions. This quest for empirical research findings with practical application is also evident in qualitative educational research where interviewees are categorised by discipline or gender, for example, and generalisations extrapolated thence. It’s understandable that this should be the case; educators, and educational researchers, are creative problem-solvers seeking practical means by which to improve their teaching. Another strand of educational research is that which is informed by critical theories. Often utilising difficult philosophical texts and politicised concepts, this work shines light on previously unexplored areas and exposes privileges, neoliberalism and normative systems at work within education. The final approach, particularly apparent in the area of digital technologies, is a systems or network-based view. Borrowing from computer science, learning or knowledge is conceptualised as ‘connectiveness’ where people and objects form nodes through which information flows. While each of these approaches offer strengths and limitations to educational research, I propose to selectively re-purpose aspects of all three to build my research methodology.”

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