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Georgina Barton and Kay Hartwig
The business of international students in the higher education sector is a crucial part of many countries’ economic development and intercultural richness. In fact, in Australia participation of international students in university study accounts for the third highest export industry behind iron ore and coal with similar trends seen in other countries. Given that such a large proportion of students across the globe are international, it is important that higher educators are able to support them appropriately through their study. Research literature has identified a number of issues international students face including homesickness, being away from family and friends, financial hardship, accommodation concerns, and cultural difference including language. Further concerns may arise when international students undertake a professional experience in an authentic workplace such as in a work integrated learning (WIL) experience or practicum or internship. For international students studying teacher education students are expected to complete a number of professional experiences within the schooling sector. Research about teacher education international students’ experience in schools has often focused on negative aspects related to this component of study rather than the success that many students enjoy. In fact, supervisors or the work colleagues who are responsible for assessing international students often report mutual benefits through hosting. International students in teacher education face several difficult issues as well as success, and this includes international students in Australia and domestic students undertaking professional experience overseas. A model of effective practice for all stakeholders in teacher education professional experience can be useful.
Troy A. Martin
The professionalization of education involves a modern, capitalist move toward securing a public market for schools and developing social status for educators. As a process that has produced knowledge, rationalized relationships, and controlled markets, professionalization of education has also defined an ethical discourse. Articulated in language, inscribed in state law, and embodied in conduct, professional ethics have been codified formally in “codes of ethics” and informally in professional identity and ways of thinking. The popular discourse of professional ethics in education narrows and constrains ethical possibility in practice.
Because of similar forms of codes of ethics across professions, interdisciplinary scholarship from education, social work, psychiatry, and medicine informs a critical examination of professional ethics. The codes, discourse, and standards of professional ethics are historically grounded in the framework of modern rationalism. As the field of education has developed to include a more diverse knowledge-base and new forms of empirical research, the rational order of prescriptive ethics has begun to slip. While regulatory codes of ethics continue to undergird public trust and provide legal insurance against malfeasance, educational scholars and practitioners engage a wider constellation of ethical perspectives and possibilities. Feminist care ethics, post-modern ethics, and phenomenological descriptive ethics present a few possibilities within emergent fields. As the ongoing effects of professionalization are critiqued and the possibilities of professional ethics are re-imagined, schools of education should look beyond the disciplinary enclosures of education to respond to an increasingly diffuse understanding of professional ethics.
This article examines teacher education accountability and argues for new emphases in accreditation and beginning teacher certification designed to professionalize teacher education. A brief overview of the history of teacher education policy is presented as a background framing for exploring the current policy moment positioning teacher education as a problem that needs to be fixed. Government responses discussed are mainly those in the Anglophone areas of Australia, North America, and the United Kingdom. These involve tighter regulation while at the same time opening up a deregulated teacher education environment as well as an increasing focus on measuring the contribution that teacher preparation makes to student learning. The article suggest ways of professionalizing teacher education accountability which go beyond the “partnerships,” “classroom-ready,” and “value-added” mantras of current debates and policies and considers (1) teacher education in a new hybrid space, (2) authentic graduate assessments, and (3) rigorous research evidence as the cornerstones of a refreshed and more professionalised approach to teacher education accountability.
“Progressivism” is a collective term used in historiography to characterize historical phases in which particular ways to think about progress are detectable. Hence, “progressivism” is more a historiographical label used by historians than a term used by those thinkers identified as being part of a progressive phase in history. Even though important scholars have argued that the idea of progress can be traced back to antiquity, others have argued that ideas of progress—as a more or less linear alternative to a cyclical way of thinking—are found for the first time in the transition from the early modern period to modernity (ca. 1700). These ideas of progress can be linked to the advancement of knowledge, to the perfecting of the soul or then of the social order, and they link the notion of “progress” with notions like “perfection” and “development.” As a rule, “progress” did not include notions of future chaos or imponderability but rather was understood as an ordered proceeding to the future that was interpreted either as the redemption or materializing of a more or less predetermined road (individually and/or socially), as a contribution to adjustment of social development understood as dangerous or wrong, or as resulting from a forecast and planned future. All of these attempts over the last three and a half centuries to conceptualize progress in one way or another were connected to research, and they affected ideas on education; most of them were even closely related to educational aspirations, methods, programs, and/or policy.
The two great and independent motives of “progress” can be identified first around 1700 in France and England with regard to advancement in knowledge and the sciences (1), and in Germany with regard to the perfection of the soul. The idea of human perfection and the advancement of the knowledge based on modern sciences were merged in the Enlightenment prior to the French Revolution and its philosophical legitimation (2), leading in the German realm to a philosophy of history that subordinated all of human and natural history to a great narrative from the past to the future (3). The emergence of sociology gave the narrative a national frame that was supported by the erection of modern schooling, but by the end of the 19th century, the modern conditions of social and political life as actual expressions of progress were perceived as not redeeming the promises of the Enlightenment and the philosophy of history, which led to a schism in the interpretation of “true” progress. These critical perceptions triggered a reaction labeled the Progressive Era, which aimed to readjust the modern conditions of life to particular, often religious ideals of social order in which progress was more tightly connected to (idealized) visions of the past (4). The educational ideas and ideals of this Progressive Era proved to be sustainable, but they were attacked during the Cold War period, which saw an emphasis on technocratic aspects of governance and specific ideas of economic and social development. The ramifications of this focus, which called for planning the future and adjusting education to these plans, can be seen in the case of the OECD (5).
Bruce G. Barnett
The growing economic and employment disparities between members of different socioeconomic groups often paint a bleak future for people living in marginalized communities. These conditions are reflected in many low-performing urban schools where dropouts, behavioral problems, and poor academic performance prevail. In the United States, large numbers of adolescents have a sense of hopelessness, particularly among racial and ethnic minority groups. Despite these challenging circumstances, school leaders are well positioned to build these urban students’ hope for a bright future. Using hope theory—goal development, agency, and pathways—as a foundation, the article describes ways school leaders can become agents of hope, which is reinforced by research from an international study of leadership in low-performing schools. The article concludes by examining how leadership preparation and development programs can influence aspiring and practicing school leaders’ capacities to become agents of hope.
Farida Abdulla Khan
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Psychology, more than any other discipline, has been a major influence in departments of education and has shaped the ways in which classrooms, pedagogy, and to a large extent curriculum, have evolved within school education. Learning theory, behaviorism, and a dominantly positivist framework have been instrumental in shaping the discipline of psychology, especially as it evolved within the newly created departments of education in the early 20th century. This was also the time that formal schooling for the masses and large scale public schooling systems were being consolidated all over the industrialized world. The comfortable convergence between a behaviorist view of human functioning and the mass socialization of children that schools were expected to fulfill gained credibility, thanks to the “scientific” nature and credentials of this theoretical framework at a time when positivism pervaded thinking within the social sciences.
In India, departments of education have always had a strong component of psychology, which constitutes one of the core foundational disciplines (in fact the one that is incorporated most seriously) within education and continues to form a considerable component of all teacher education programs and courses. It has, however, remained deeply entrenched within the positivist framework and a behaviorist paradigm. Mainstream educational research within departments of education has largely been shaped and influenced by this model, with a focus on empirical work. This behaviorist model of understanding learning and teaching has had its strongest influence in the sphere of pedagogy, where it has helped to strengthen traditional models of learning and teaching.
In the Indian context, psychology has, by and large, helped education researchers to maintain the notion of children as de-contextualized. The individual is attributed with characteristics such as intelligence and personality, and “measurement” has long been a technique for sorting and selection. It has also helped the field of education to maintain the idea of students as “gifted” or other, and to attribute responsibility for success and failure to the individual (student and teacher, and often the parent) and her/his capacities. This idea fits in well with a selection model for education that reinforces notions of individual merit, side-stepping issues of inequality, lack of access, and other social, political, and economic factors that are responsible for exclusion, marginalization, and, increasingly, a system of education that is deeply divided on a variety of parameters, ranging from class and caste to gender, community, region, etc. This perspective of school and the child has allowed educational research and practice to disregard the larger socio-economic and political structures within which schools, teachers, and students are embedded.
Sarah M. Stitzlein
Public schools are intricately connected to the stability and vitality of our democracy in the United States. The important relationship between public schooling and democracy began as a foundational idea in our fledgling republic, and it grew slowly over the course of our country’s history. Along the way, the relationship has been tested and challenged, encountering significant problems and limitations over time, including some that continue today. Despite these struggles and the many ways in which we’ve failed to fully fulfill the relationship, it has become a key one for maintaining the strength of our society and our political system.
Unlike a monarchy and other forms of government, it is difficult to maintain a democracy. Democracies take work; they rely upon the ongoing effort of elected officials and citizens, because they cannot run themselves or rely on just one person to lead. While democracy may be a highly desirable political system, its benefits are not always self-evident to children, and the pursuant skills and work it requires do not come naturally to most people. This is the rather precarious position of democracy; in order to maintain it, we have to educate children about its benefits and rationale while also equipping them with the skills and dispositions they need in order to for them to perpetuate it well. This is why we must link education and democracy.
Democracy requires informed and active voters who seek information to make wise decisions on behalf of themselves and the common good. Such voters must understand their own rights and freedoms, as well as those of others, as they deliberate together to reach mutually agreeable policies and practices. They must be equipped to engage in free and critical inquiry about the world and the problems surrounding them. And, they need the imagination and creativity to construct, revise, add to, and share the story of democracy with others, including the next generation.
The relationship between public schooling and democracy is best understood and fulfilled when it is not just a unidirectional one, where public schools support democracy, but rather when it moves in both directions, with the formal and cultural elements of democracy shaping the governance, content, and practices of schools. In this way, democracy is not just the end of public schooling, but also the means by which we achieve it.
Marginalized populations are by definition composed of people who have fewer possibilities and options in their lives than those studying them. This fact has to be reflected before, during, and after the research itself. There are many facets of this basic assumption. One of them is, how are marginalized perceived by the researcher? Are they helpless victims, or people who are able to tell their own stories? Another relevant detail is the personality of the researcher. When the researcher comes from outside the marginalized group, the key question is, which methodology can be best applied to give a voice to those who are marginalized? On the other hand, when the researcher is a member of the group being studied, the key question is how to achieve the distance necessary for analysis. There could be many more such relevant facets, but the quality of the final research product is partially determined by any number of decisions that are made during the planning of the research and the conducting of the research.
All of these decisions have methodological consequences. There are a wide range of qualitative research approaches, such as participatory research, autoethnographic research, narrative and biographical research, or traditional qualitative research based on interviews with representatives of marginalized groups. In the early 21st century, there has been a shift away from a top-down, outsider perspective that sees the marginalized as helpless victims and toward more participatory research designs that promote and give a space to the marginalized voice.
The common denominator of all these decisions is whose voice is being heard—does it belong to the marginalized group or to the outside world? Is it possible to overcome the boundaries between these two worlds? And what role does methodology play in this story?
Qualitative analysis—the analysis of textual, visual, or audio data—covers a spectrum from confirmation to exploration. Qualitative studies can be directed by a conceptual framework, suggesting, in part, a deductive thrust, or driven more by the data itself, suggesting an inductive process. Generic or basic qualitative research refers to an approach in which researchers are simply interested in solving a problem, effecting a change, or identifying relevant themes rather than attempting to position their work in a particular epistemological or ontological paradigm.
Other qualitative traditions include grounded theory, narrative analysis, and phenomenology. Grounded theory encompasses several approaches, including objectivist and constructivist traditions, and commonly invites researchers to theorize a process and perhaps identify its contexts and consequences. Narrative analysis is an approach that treats stories not only as representations of events but as narrative events in themselves. Researchers using this approach analyze the form and content of narrative data and examine how these elements serve the storyteller and the story. Other elements often considered include plot, genre, character, values, resolutions, and motifs. Phenomenology is an approach designed to “open up” a phenomenon and make sense of its invariant structure, its identifiable essence across all narrative accounts. In this approach, the focus is on the lived experiences of those deeply familiar with the phenomenon and how they experience the phenomenon as they are going through it, before it is categorized and conceptualized. Each tradition has its own investigative emphasis and particular tools for analysis—specific approaches to coding, memo writing, and final products, such as diagrams, matrices, and condensed reports.
The role of theory in qualitative data analysis is continually shifting and offers researchers many choices. The dynamic and inclusive nature of qualitative research has encouraged the entry of a number of interested disciplines into the field. These discipline groups have introduced new theoretical practices that have influenced and diversified methodological approaches. To add to these, broader shifts in chronological theoretical orientations in qualitative research can be seen in the four waves of paradigmatic change; the first wave showed a developing concern with the limitations of researcher objectivity, and empirical observation of evidence based data, leading to the second wave with its focus on realities - mutually constructed by researcher and researched, participant subjectivity, and the remedying of societal inequalities and mal-distributed power. The third wave was prompted by the advent of Postmodernism and Post- structuralism with their emphasis on chaos, complexity, intertextuality and multiple realities; and most recently the fourth wave brought a focus on visual images, performance, both an active researcher and an interactive audience, and the crossing of the theoretical divide between social science and classical physics. The methods and methodological changes, which have evolved from these paradigm shifts, can be seen to have followed a similar pattern of change. The researcher now has multiple paradigms, co-methodologies, diverse methods and a variety of theoretical choices, to consider. This continuum of change has shifted the field of qualitative research dramatically from limited choices to multiple options, requiring clarification of researcher decisions and transparency of process. However, there still remains the difficult question of the role that theory will now play in such a high level of complex design and critical researcher reflexivity.
Emerging in the learning sciences field in the early 1990s, qualitative design-based research (DBR) is a relatively new methodological approach to social science and education research. As its name implies, DBR is focused on the design of educational innovations, and the testing of these innovations in the complex and interconnected venue of naturalistic settings. As such, DBR is an explicitly interventionist approach to conducting research, situating the researcher as a part of the complex ecology in which learning and educational innovation takes place.
With this in mind, DBR is distinct from more traditional methodologies, including laboratory experiments, ethnographic research, and large-scale implementation. Rather, the goal of DBR is not to prove the merits of any particular intervention, or to reflect passively on a context in which learning occurs, but to examine the practical application of theories of learning themselves in specific, situated contexts. By designing purposeful, naturalistic, and sustainable educational ecologies, researchers can test, extend, or modify their theories and innovations based on their pragmatic viability. This process offers the prospect of generating theory-developing, contextualized knowledge claims that can complement the claims produced by other forms of research.
Because of this interventionist, naturalistic stance, DBR has also been the subject of ongoing debate concerning the rigor of its methodology. In many ways, these debates obscure the varied ways DBR has been practiced, the varied types of questions being asked, and the theoretical breadth of researchers who practice DBR. With this in mind, DBR research may involve a diverse range of methods as researchers from a variety of intellectual traditions within the learning sciences and education research design pragmatic innovations based on their theories of learning, and document these complex ecologies using the methodologies and tools most applicable to their questions, focuses, and academic communities.
DBR has gained increasing interest in recent years. While it remains a popular methodology for developmental and cognitive learning scientists seeking to explore theory in naturalistic settings, it has also grown in importance to cultural psychology and cultural studies researchers as a methodological approach that aligns in important ways with the participatory commitments of liberatory research. As such, internal tension within the DBR field has also emerged. Yet, though approaches vary, and have distinct genealogies and commitments, DBR might be seen as the broad methodological genre in which Change Laboratory, design-based implementation research (DBIR), social design-based experiments (SDBE), participatory design research (PDR), and research-practice partnerships might be categorized. These critically oriented iterations of DBR have important implications for educational research and educational innovation in historically marginalized settings and the Global South.
Aurora Chang, Júlia Mendes, and Cinthya Salazar
The study of undocumented students in the United States is critical and growing. As scholars increasingly employ qualitative methodologies and methods in studying undocumented students, it is important to consider the specific challenges, nuances, and benefits of doing so. Undocumented students have a right to a public elementary and secondary education regardless of immigration status, per the 1982 court case Plyler v. Doe. While the stress that undocumented students face during their K-12 years are real and consequential, this stress becomes particularly acute in their postsecondary lives when education is neither guaranteed nor readily accessible. Qualitative research gives insight into the complex obstacles undocumented students face and advocates for the institutional and social change necessary to best support them. Existing qualitative research on undocumented students employs various methodologies and methods including but not limited to narrative inquiry, testimonio, phenomenology, case studies, ethnography, discourse analysis, and grounded theory. Among the salient issues that scholars must take into account when engaging in such research are the ethical, logistical, and relational problems that arise when working with undocumented people; the politicization of researching undocumented students; and the power and privilege that researchers possess in the researcher–participant relationship. Within every stage of the research process, researchers need to take special care when working with undocumented students to ensure their anonymity, respect their lived experiences, and advocate for their human rights. Undocumented research participants are in need of extra protection due to their undocumented status, and this need should not be conflated with weakness. Often, undocumented participants are framed as illegal, powerless, vulnerable, fearful, and in the shadows. While it is true that undocumented people face intense, life-altering, and consequential struggles relative to their undocumented status, it is also true that their intelligence, resilience, and persistence are equally intense. Researchers have an obligation to bring undocumented students’ authentic experiences to the fore in ways that acknowledge their undocumented status and the related struggles while affirming their agency and resistance. How they employ methodological practices is central to this goal.
Marilia Sposito and Felipe Tarábola
The specifics of approaches to qualitative research in the field of youth studies in Brazil are presented. Research projects that focus on young people should recognize the specificities that can be translated into analyses of the diversity and inequalities of youth experience. Two aspects are key: Markers of age can inform early approaches, since there is international agreement on the general extent of this stage of life (from 15 to 29 years of age), and the occurrence of differences among adolescents, that is, young people approaching the age of majority and young people in transition to adult life. Thus, the process of data collection needs to allow for the possibility of bricolage techniques in order to effectively study the subjects, presupposing their interactions and positions in contemporary society. Starting from an initial reflection on the main milestones that guide the very idea of youth and the ways in which the studies in education have dialogued with this field in Brazil, four aspects need to be considered when carrying out empirical investigations: contexts and research spaces; the successive approximations and times of investigation; sounds and images; and the potential benefits and hazards of using virtual networks and the internet for data collection in studies of young people. This combination of procedures requires the researcher to exercise sociological imagination and act with some degree of creativity. However, there must also be rigorous care in selecting research techniques and applying them to whatever the project may be.
Luis Urrieta and Beth Hatt
The paradigmatic turn of the latter half of the 20th century enabled a phenomenal growth in research studies exploring the multiple, fluid, and changing complexities of culture and identity. The nuanced, contradictory, and process-oriented nature of identity and identification has meant that these studies of identity in education have been and continue to be largely, and appropriately, qualitative and ethnographic. Theorizing about researcher positionality within qualitative research, especially ethnography, have changed over time and paralleled changes in how we think about identity in relation to education. Paradigmatic shifts regarding positionality, epistemology, and research ethics have included positivist dominated (1900s–1950s) to a critical paradigmatic shift (1960s–1980s) to most recently post-critical and decolonizing paradigms (1990s to today). Recent research centers that identity formation is central to learning and schooling contexts, directly related to student marginalization and performance embedded in issues of power. As we look towards the future, we anticipate a shift in qualitative research that is less individualistic and centered on reciprocity for communities.
Robert J. Helfenbein
The work known as critical geography, a distinct yet varied subfield of spatial analysis, seeks to understand how the social construction of both space and place interact with, resist, and reinforce structures of power and the work of individual and collective identity. A critical geography approach to qualitative educational research privileges inquiry that includes how the lived experiences of schools (i.e., students, teachers, schools, communities) are defined, constrained, and potentially liberated by spatial relationships in both discursive and material ways. That is, a critical geography approach includes how such understandings may be used, for example, to critically examine how spaces are used, by whom, when, and how in the process of learning and not learning; what spaces mean (and mean differently) for different people inhabiting the spaces of education; how spaces are used to construct identities, allegiances, and bodies; how they act pedagogically to position bodies to know and be known; and the kind of pedagogies they help make possible and intelligible for both teachers and students in classrooms.
Ana Maria F. Almeida and Sandra Ziegler
International comparisons demonstrate considerable educational inequality across Latin America. Since the return of democracy in the region in the mid-1980s, these educational disparities have become an important object of studies and public policies, not least because educational inequality reflects, and entrenches, deep social inequalities across the region. Studies of this phenomenon are multifaceted, with distinctions between qualitative and quantitative approaches corresponding to distinct disciplinary fields (sociology, psychology, history versus economics, notably), university departments (colleges of education, sociology departments versus economics departments), and gender (women versus men). Qualitative approaches examine a limited number of cases, usually using interviews and ethnographies, to examine a circumscribed space of social action, often limited to a small set of institutions within a single national framework. Studies carried out in this perspective support the construction of hypotheses that can then be tested with a larger number of cases. They are particularly suited to identifying multiple, mutually influencing causalities, thus enabling a dense description of the complex dynamics that lead to the reproduction of educational inequality in the region. At the same time, these approaches have not tackled comparative analysis nor have they addressed the global dynamics affecting education in the region.
Wanda S. Pillow
The “paradigm wars” of the 1970s−1990s fostered intense debate about the meanings and purposes of research and policy. Paradigmatic stances seemed to keep these two fields separate—at odds with each other methodologically and theoretically. Tracing this history yields knowledge about past and potential relationships between qualitative research and policy studies. Given qualitative research studies, social phenomena, and policy that reflects social values, it seems obvious that policy studies need qualitative research in order to understand policy processes, from development to implementation and practice, and that qualitative research would benefit from examining, analyzing, and contributing to a policy process. But who is responsible for this work? Are post-paradigm war relations possible and, if so, what may such relations look like? A review of the paradigmatic trajectories of each field allows a closer look at what qualitative and policy relationships look like when specifically thought through a focus on how theory shapes what we think of as research and policy. Whatever purposeful relationships are formed, rethinking dogmatic post-paradigm war logic is necessary to envision new questions that may drive research and policy futures.
Gabriela Czarny and Ruth Paradise
In Mexico, qualitative research in the field of indigenous education finds its roots in a strong national tradition of social anthropological research. This background provides a fundamental context for understanding current emphases in qualitative educational research being carried out in indigenous communities, and for recognizing the underlying nature of indigenist policies and schooling projects (known as “indigenism”) imposed by the state during the 20th century. Indigenous organizations and communities have both challenged and appropriated this research tradition and indigenist educational projects, bringing into play a discussion of the continuous state of inequality and injustice in postcolonial states.
Among the central aspects that have contributed to the shift in native research processes are the professionalization of the field of study at the level of higher education and within different programs and institutions, although the majority of these programs are still oriented toward indigenous peoples by nonindigenous professionals.
Within the qualitative research agenda proposed by native researchers at the end of the 20th century, indigenous peoples began to assume a central position in the suggested themes, needs, and methods of inquiry. In Mexico, this development was closely related to the ethnographic study of education through perspectives of research action, collaborative research, narratives, and testimonials, providing fertile ground for envisioning other ways to name, produce knowledge, describe problems, and propose solutions with respect to the lives of these communities and peoples.
Alfonso Torres Carrillo
Popular Education (PE) is an educational movement and pedagogical current that emerged in Latin America in the seventies. It was a result of Paulo Freire’s pedagogical proposals in a context of radicalization of popular struggle and cultural and intellectual movements. During the past five decades, hundreds of groups, practices and projects have identified themselves as part of the PE movement. As a pedagogical current, PE is understood as an educational perspective and practice, which is critical of institutionalized education and identifies with emancipatory political perspectives. Its purpose is to help populations that experience oppression or discrimination to strengthen their capacity to change their conditions, relationships, practices and ways of thinking and feeling by means of cultural, educational, dialogical, participatory, interactive and expressive practices. With respect to the history of PE in Latin America, its social contexts and educational practices, four stages can be identified:
1. The liberating pedagogy of Paulo Freire at the end of the sixties.
2. The foundational stage PE in the seventies.
3. The re-foundation and expansion of the PE in the eighties and nineties.
4. The reactivation of the EP in the current context.
During these periods, a constant interest in PE has been producing knowledge from and about its contexts, themes and practices. From its origins, it has created and incorporated qualitative research strategies in coherence with its political and epistemological options.
As evidenced in each historical phase of the PE, the use of a qualitative methodology predominated: thematic research in Freire’s pedagogical proposal; participatory action research (PAR) in its foundational stage; collective reconstruction of the history and critical ethnography in its expansion phase; systematization of practices since the 1990s; and the emergence of innovative and aesthetic strategies at the present century. A set of methodological principles derive from this historical path of qualitative research in PE:
1. Maintaining a critical distance from institutionalized research modes in the scientific world, acknowledging their subordination to hegemonic powers.
2. Assuming PE to be both critical and emancipatory. This option is identified with values, willpower, and projects that involve new meanings of the organization of collective life.
3. Recognizing the place of the cultural and the intersubjective, both in social phenomena and in social research processes.
4. Linking it to emancipatory organizational processes and collective actions.
5. Not subordinating it to the institutional logic of disciplinary research.
6. Promoting group and organization participation in research process decisions.
7. Ensuring that it promotes formation of knowledge collectives.
8. Maintaining a critical and creative use of the theory.
9. Recognizing the plurality of subjects and promoting a “dialogue of knowledge.”
10. Incorporating diverse cultural practices within communities in order to produce and communicate their knowledge.
11. Assuming methodology to be a flexible practice.
12. Assuming research within PE is a permanent practice of critical reflection.
Karen A. Erickson and David A. Koppenhaver
Qualitative research methods, in many forms, have been used to deepen understandings in the field of severe disabilities for decades. Using methods such as individual case studies, grounded theory, phenomenology, content analysis, life history, and ethnography, qualitative research has served to explain bounded systems, generate theory, study the lived experiences of individuals, investigate historical and contemporary texts and contexts, share first-person narratives, and investigate cultural and social systems that involve students with severe disabilities. Indicators of quality in qualitative methods and means of establishing credibility have been explicated and are widely applied in the field. To varying degrees, qualitative methods have allowed researchers to represent the voices of students with severe disabilities and engage them actively in the research process, which is important given that a mantra among persons with severe disabilities and their advocates is nothing about us without us.
Regardless of the methods, accurately representing the voices of students with severe disabilities and including them as active participants in research is not always easy to accomplish given the nature of their cognitive and communication profiles. Many students with severe disabilities do not communicate symbolically through speech, sign language, or graphic symbols. Others have limited means of communication and are dependent on familiar communication partners to co-construct meaning with them. Some approaches to qualitative research, such as post-critical ethnography, provide a potential path toward representing the voice of a broader range of students with severe disabilities because these methods lead researchers to interrogate assumptions in the field while examining their own positions, perceptions, and beliefs relative to the subject of the investigation. While these methods offer opportunity with respect to their ability to fairly represent and involve students with severe disabilities, they challenge previously accepted indicators of quality and means of establishing credibility in qualitative research. As qualitative research methods are applied in understanding students with severe disabilities in the future, these challenges will have to be addressed.