You are looking at 21-40 of 401 articles
This article provides a reflection on “qualitative” research methodology and their study within the university and other educational levels and invites dialogue between paradigms and currents of thought that are identified with teaching and the methods of producing empirical information. From a critical perspective, together with the positivism of the social sciences, it argues that the node of this teaching is the process of constructing the object of study, a process that confirms the centrality of the researcher.
In accordance with a theoretical-methodological focus that distinguishes the specificity of the object of the social sciences in its linguistic construction, and considering the capacity for agency of the temporarily situated actors, the researcher (also a social agent), in addition to taking on the scope and historicity of the concepts used to problematize the relationships being investigated, needs to analyze the reflexivity of his/her language, which is inscribed in the assumptions that guide his/her inquiry. In this way, research training embodies a pedagogical problematic, whereby addressing the aforementioned centrality of the construction of the object goes hand in hand with the pedagogical problematization of everyday speech.
Research-in-action training constitutes the future researcher as a critical intellectual, in search of a reliable (or true) knowledge that will incorporate him/her into the scientific framework.
Bert De Smedt
The application of neuroscience to educational research remains an area of much debate. While some scholars have argued that such applications are not possible (and will never be possible), others have been more optimistic and suggest that these are possible, albeit under certain conditions, for example when one aims to understand very basic cognitive processes. Concrete examples of these applications are increasing in the emerging interdisciplinary field of mind, brain, and education or educational neuroscience, which posits itself at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience, psychology, and educational research. From a methodological point of view, cognitive neuroscience can be applied to (some types of) educational research, as it offers a toolbox to investigate specific types of educational research questions. Promising applications of cognitive neuroscience to educational research include comprehending the origins of atypical development, understanding the biological processes that play a role when learning school-relevant skills, predicting educational outcomes, generating predictions to be tested in educational research, and undertaking biological interventions. The challenges of applying cognitive neuroscience deal with ecological validity, the scope of a biological explanation, and the potential emergence of neuromyths.
Valentina Migliarini and Subini Annamma
Strategies for behavioral management have been traditionally derived from an individualistic, psychological orientation. As such, behavioral management is about correcting and preventing disruption caused by the “difficult” students and about reinforcing positive comportment of the “good” ones. However, increased classroom diversity and inclusive and multicultural education reform efforts, in the United States and in most Western societies, warrant attention to the ways preservice teachers develop beliefs and attitudes toward behavior management that (re)produce systemic inequities along lines of race, disability, and intersecting identities. Early-21st-century legislation requiring free and equitable education in the least restrictive environment mandates that school professionals serve the needs of all students, especially those located at the interstices of multiple differences in inclusive settings. These combined commitments create tensions in teacher education, demanding that educators rethink relationships with students so that they are not simply recreating the trends of mass incarceration within schools. Disability Critical Race Theory (DisCrit) shifts the questions that are asked from “How can we fix students who disobey rules?” to “How can preservice teacher education and existing behavioral management courses be transformed so that they are not steeped in color evasion and silent on interlocking systems of oppression?”
DisCrit provides an opportunity to (re)organize classrooms, moving away from “fixing” the individual—be it the student or the teacher—and shifting toward justice. As such, it is important to pay attention not only to the characteristics, dispositions, attitudes, and students’ and teachers’ behaviors but also to the structural features of the situation in which they operate. By cultivating relationships rooted in solidarity, in which teachers understand the ways students are systemically oppressed, how those oppressions are (re)produced in classrooms, and what they can do to resist those oppressions in terms of pedagogy, curriculum, and relationship, repositions students and families are regarded as valuable members. Consequently, DisCrit has the potential to prepare future teachers to create a learning environment that encourages positive social interactions and active engagement in learning focused on creating solidarity in the classroom instead of managing. This results in curriculum, pedagogy, and relationships that are rooted in expansive notions of justice. DisCrit can help preservice teachers in addressing issues of diversity in the curriculum and in contemplating how discipline may be used as a tool of punishment, and of exclusion, or as a tool for learning. Ultimately, DisCrit as an intersectional and interdisciplinary framework can enrich existing preservice teachers’ beliefs about relationships in the classroom and connect these relationships to larger projects of dismantling inequities faced by multiply marginalized students.
Chester Chun Seng Kam and Xitao Fan
Survey has been a widely used data collection method for a variety of purposes in educational research. Although response styles have the potential to contaminate survey results, educational researchers often do little to control for such negative effects. Under discussion are five common response issues, their impact on survey data, and the methods that may be used to minimize the negative impact of these response issues on survey data. The five response issues in question are acquiescence (including disacquiescence), careless responding, extreme response, social desirability, and item-keying effect. Acquiescence (disacquiescence) refers to a respondent’s general tendency to agree (or disagree) with an item regardless of its content. This response style can distort item and construct correlations, compromising the results of factor analytic and correlational findings. Careless responding refers to a respondent’s tendency to pay insufficient attention to item content before responding, which can also lead to a biased estimation of relationships. Extreme response refers to the tendency of selecting extreme response options (e.g., strongly agree or strongly disagree) over middle options (e.g., neutral). Social desirability refers to a respondent’s tendency to rate him- or herself in an overly positive light. Finally, item-keying effect refers to a respondent’s differential responses to regular-keyed and reverse-keyed items. This effect often creates the illusion that items with opposite keying directions measure distinct constructs even when they may not.
A growing amount of research has been done on how to control for the negative impact of these response styles, although the research may be limited and uneven for different response issues. A variety of approaches and methods exist for handling these response issues in research practice. Different response issues may require considerations at different stages of research. For example, effective handling of acquiescence response may require steps in both survey construction (e.g., including a hidden measure of acquiescence) and survey data analytic treatment (partial correlation technique), while controlling for item-keying effect may require more sophisticated modeling techniques (e.g., multitrait-multimethod confirmatory factor analysis).
Dora Marín-Diaz, Flávia Schilling, and Julio Groppa Aquino
This article focuses on the proposal of archival research in qualitative educational research. Based on the assumption that, in this context, different paths are available to the researcher, the question of how to select relevant sources in order to provide singular approaches to the issues at stake arises. More specifically, when conducting qualitative research in education how can the archives be navigated? To that end, the article begins with the notion of sociological imagination drawn from the work of Charles Wright Mills, in conjunction with Pierre Bourdieu’s reflexive sociology; for the latter, the construction of the object of investigation was based on a system of objective relations. Next, the archaegenealogical perspective of Michel Foucault is examined; for him the archive is the instance that governs the emergence of discourses.
In both cases, the goal is for the researcher to glean certain insights from the surface of what is said, critically describing the functioning of discourse around the problem investigated according to its dispersion among different practices, which in turn are responsible for giving form to the objects to which the researcher dedicates himself.
Rather than a methodology per se, the notion of the archive defended here, without any prescriptive intention, describes a specific way of conducting qualitative investigation marked by originality and critical accuracy.
Kirstin Kerr and Alan Dyson
Countries across the world struggle to break the relationship between socio-economic disadvantage and educational outcomes. Even in otherwise affluent countries, children and young people from poor and marginalized families tend to do badly in education, and their lack of educational success makes it more likely that they will remain in poverty as adults. Moreover, socio-economic disadvantage and educational failure in these countries tend to be concentrated in particular places, such as the poor neighborhoods of large cities or of post-industrial towns. This has led policy-makers and practitioners in many administrations to favor area-based initiatives (ABIs), which target such places, as one set of responses to social and educational disadvantage. Some ABIs are limited to funding schools more generously in disadvantaged areas or giving them additional support and flexibilities. The more ambitious initiatives, however, seek to develop multistrand interventions to tackle both the educational and the social and economic problems of areas simultaneously.
The evaluation evidence suggests that these initiatives have so far met with limited success at best. This has led some critics to conclude that there is a fundamental contradiction in their use of purely local interventions to tackle problems that originate outside ABIs’ target areas, in macro-level social and economic processes. However, it is possible to construct a convincing rationale for these initiatives by understanding the social ecologies that shape children’s outcomes, and by formulating holistic interventions aimed at reducing the risks in those ecologies and enhancing children’s resilience in the face of those risks. There is, moreover, evidence of a new generation of ABIs that has begun to emerge recently. These new ABIs are able to operate strategically and over the long-term, rather than being bound by the short-term nature of policy-making. These newer initiatives may offer a better prospect of tackling the link between social and educational disadvantage, even in unpromising economic circumstances, and even within the context of “politics as usual.”
Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor and Lynn Sanders-Bustle
There are several interrelated themes in arts-informed pedagogies and teacher preparation: (1) the arts as tools to improve students’ academic achievement in other content areas such as math, science, social studies, language arts, and foreign language; (2) the arts as holistic and dynamic process for meaning-making; (3) the arts for teachers’ own professional identity and satisfaction (e.g., for teacher reflection, teacher retention, job satisfaction, and relationship-building); and (4) the arts for social change, social justice, and education advocacy work. There are a series of key questions and concerns regarding where, how, and why arts-informed teacher education practices are used, who uses them, and to what end.
Natalie LeBlanc and Rita L. Irwin
Since its conception, a/r/tography has been described as an interdisciplinary, dynamic, and emergent practice, blending visual, narrative, performative, poetic, and other modes of inquiry with qualitative methodologies such as ethnography, auto-ethnography, autobiography, and participatory or educational action research. Although some a/r/tographers utilize traditional modes of data-gathering methods, such as interviews, transcripts, and field notes, not all practices of a/r/tography refer to the recording or collection of ideas as “data,” and if they do, they are used in combination with, or in relation to, art-making, creative writing, or performance. As an arts-based methodology grounded in the physicality of making and creating, a/r/tography is situated outside traditional research structures. It is framed by a continual process of questioning where understandings are not predetermined and where artistic contexts, materials, and processes create transformative events, interactive spaces in which the reader/viewer/audience can co-create in meaning-making. In short, a/r/tography is an arts-based form of inquiry that disrupts standardized criteria of research while evoking and provoking alternate possibilities for understanding.
Mary Ann Hunter and Cynthia E. Cohen
The arts have long been associated with social transformation and peacebuilding. In conflict-affected settings, the arts can serve to raise awareness of the impacts of violence, enable distinctive expressions of culture, offer opportunities for intercultural collaboration, and embody affective and aesthetic means of engaging with trauma and healing. Conversely, the arts also have the potential to harm, when they are used in the name of propaganda, for example, or result in re-traumatizing victims of conflict in an aestheticization of experience. An emerging interdisciplinary field of arts and peacebuilding is researching the arts’ potential to restore capacities that might have been eclipsed by violence and long-standing oppression—that is, arts practice at the nexus of reconciliation, community development, and social justice. As the field grows, scholarship in peace studies, applied arts, conflict resolution, and peace education is contributing to a productive troubling of definitions of peace and is drawing attention to the role of affect, cultural diversity, and coloniality in such work. Future scholarship in which the arts are conceptualized beyond the instrumental benefits to their multiple legitimate purposes as a “way of knowing” will more appropriately capture the complexities, uncertainties, and paradoxes of imagining and building peace through the arts in diverse contexts. Key international projects continue to decolonize universalizing definitions and practices of the arts by documenting and investigating a range of aesthetic practices in peacebuilding. This work is being generated and disseminated broadly across disciplinary scholarly communities, government and nongovernment agencies, and professional networks of educators and artists. The nexus of arts and peacebuilding theory has much to offer the mobilization of new directions in peacebuilding practice and an integration of arts-based peace education.
The art-based action research (ABAR) method has its roots in action research, particularly in participatory action research (PAR) and action research in education and is clearly linked with international artistic research (AR) and art-based educational research (ABER). The ABAR methodology was developed collaboratively by a group of art educators and researchers at the University of Lapland (UoL) to support the artist-teacher-researcher with skills and professional methods to seek solutions to recognized problems and promote future actions and visions in the changing North and the Arctic. On the one hand, the need for decolonizing cultural sustainable art education research was identified in multidisciplinary collaboration with the UoL’s northern and circumpolar network. On the other hand, the participatory and dialogical approach was initiated by examining the pressures for change within art education stemming from the practices of relational and dialogical contemporary art. ABAR has been developed and completed over the years in doctoral dissertations and art-based research projects on art education at UoL that are often connected to place-specific issues of education for social and cultural sustainability.
The multi-phased and long-term Winter Art Education project has played a central role in the development of the ABAR methodology. During the Winter Art Education project, ABAR has been successfully used in reforming formal and informal art education practices, school and adult education, and teacher education in Northern circumstances and settings. Winter art developed through the ABAR method has supported decolonization, revitalization, and cultural sustainability in schools and communities. In addition, the ABAR method and winter art have had a strong impact on regional development and creative industries in the North.
Arts-based research encompasses a range of research approaches and strategies that utilize one or more of the arts in investigation. Such approaches have evolved from understandings that life and experiences of the world are multifaceted, and that art offers ways of knowing the world that involve sensory perceptions and emotion as well as intellectual responses. Researchers have used arts for various stages of research. It may be to collect or create data, to interpret or analyze it, to present their findings, or some combination of these. Sometimes arts-based research is used to investigate art making or teaching in or through the arts. Sometimes it is used to explore issues in the wider social sciences. The field is a constantly evolving one, and researchers have evolved diverse ways of using the communicative and interpretative tools that processes with the arts allow. These include ways to initially bypass the need for verbal expression, to explore problems in physically embodied as well as discursive ways, to capture and express ambiguities, liminalities, and complexities, to collaborate in the refining of ideas, to transform audience perceptions, and to create surprise and engage audiences emotionally as well as critically. A common feature within the wide range of approaches is that they involve aesthetic responses.
The richness of the opportunities created by the use of arts in conducting and/or reporting research brings accompanying challenges. Among these are the political as well as the epistemological expectations placed on research, the need for audiences of research, and perhaps participants in research, to evolve ways of critically assessing the affect of as well as the information in presentations, the need to develop relevant and useful strategies for peer review of the research as well as the art, and the need to evolve ethical awareness that is consistent with the intentions and power of the arts.
Benjamin Jörissen, Leopold Klepacki, and Ernst Wagner
Research in arts education is characterized by a tension between presupposed theoretical concepts about “arts” and “education,” on the one hand, and the global field of untheorized arts education practices, on the other hand. This complexity is greatly magnified by the various historical and cultural understandings that characterize both the institutionalization of the arts as well as arts education itself. The fact that research traditions are themselves closely connected to a particular field of arts education adds an additional dimension to this complex question: according to our meta-studies relating to arts education-research, it is particularly evident that (1) Western and Eurocentric biases are quite dominant in this research field and that (2) well-established (Western, highbrow) art genres are dominating the research landscape, tying specific research styles, research interests, and objectives toghether.
To avoid normative and potentially hegemonial biases resulting from this situation, we analyze various arts education research approaches according to their the ontological, epistemological, and methodological anchorings. Based upon this, we develop a general meta-model of arts education research, combining a typology of perspectives defining arts education research and a set of dispositive dichotomies constitutive for this field.
The communities that constitute the racialized category of Asian Americans consist of approximately 20 million people in the United States, or about 5% of the total population. About 20% or 4 million are of primary or secondary school age, and over 1.1 million are in higher education. Both in popular and academic discourse, “Asian American” generally refers to people who have ethnic backgrounds in South Asia (e.g., Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka), Southeast Asia (e.g., Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam), and East Asia (e.g., China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan). As “Asian American” is an umbrella term used to categorize a very diverse, heterogeneous, and transnational set of populations, Asian Americans as a group present various challenges to education and research in and about the United States. These challenges can concern paradigms of achievement, citizenship, family involvement, access (e.g., higher education, bilingual education), language and culture, race and ethnicity, and school community.
In order to address these paradigmatic challenges, a great deal of scholarship has called for a disaggregation of the data on populations that fall under the pan-ethnic “Asian America” umbrella term, to gain a more nuanced and dynamic understanding of the many diverse populations and their historical, cultural, economic, and political experiences. To further address the problematic framing of Asian Americans in education and related fields, scholars have applied critical lenses to key tensions within conceptualization, policy, curriculum, and pedagogy. More recently, the notions of intersectionality and transnationalism have been generative in the study of Asian Americans, within not only educational research but also Asian American studies, which generally falls under the field of ethnic studies in the U.S. context, but has also been categorized under American studies, cultural studies, or Asian studies. While characterizations of Asian Americans as “the Model Minority” or “the Oppressed Minority” persist, the relevance of such static binaries has increasingly been challenged as the Asian American populations and migrations continue to diversify and increase.
Wilma C. M. Resing, Julian G. Elliott, and Bart Vogelaar
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Dynamic assessment is an umbrella concept, denoting a variety of assessment and testing forms that incorporate feedback, hints, or training in the assessment process and aim to measure a child’s progress when solving cognitive tasks, and in doing so provide an indication of his or her cognitive potential for learning.
Psychological and psychoeducational assessment is often applied in educational settings. Most of the instruments used in such assessments have a static nature. In administering these instruments, instruction is restricted to what is stated in the manual, which focuses mainly on telling a child what he or she has to do. The main focus of such tests is on the outcomes. The principal characteristic of dynamic assessment and testing, on the contrary, is that children are explicitly provided with feedback, prompts, or training intended to enable them to show progress when solving cognitive tasks. Where in static assessment the test outcomes are considered to measure that which a child already knows and has acquired so far, dynamic assessment procedures focus both upon learning progression and, in some cases, on the underlying cognitive processes. Dynamic measures are designed to assess developing or yet-to-develop abilities in a setting in which the assessor helps the child to solve the tasks, and teaches the child how to solve these tasks more independently. Consequently, dynamic assessment measures are primarily focused on a child’s potential for learning, rather than on past learning experiences, and likely provide a better indication of a child’s level of cognitive functioning than conventional, static test scores do separately or in combination with other instruments.
Dynamic assessment formats can be very different from each other, ranging from individually based forms of mediation, often called dynamic assessment, to active scaffolding and highly standardized procedures, offered to groups or individuals, often called dynamic testing. Outcomes of dynamic testing and assessment could, in principle, provide educational psychologists or teachers with information regarding learning outcomes during these forms of intervention.
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Schools, teachers, and students are increasingly able to access and apply assistive technology to enhance inclusion within mainstream classrooms. The assistive technology may take the form of simple, easy-to-use, low-tech devices, or they may encompass more sophisticated, highly complicated devices that require training and greater levels of support to manage. To ensure that a classroom is truly inclusive, the teacher and other professionals involved in supporting children with disabilities and using assistive technology require appropriate knowledge and skills to bring potential to reality. The knowledge concerning what is available in the field of assistive technology is merely the starting point. Inclusive educators also require expertise in selecting devices and services, including the student in decision making, implementing the assistive technology within an inclusive setting, and assessing the effectiveness of the assistive technology to meet the needs of the student and the classroom.
There are many successful examples of assistive technology being successfully embedded into the practices of inclusive settings, but there is still some way to go to ensure this is a seamless approach and one that is universally informed by practice. While legislation can go some way toward mandating the use of assistive technology, teachers and schools are really at the forefront of implementation. There are many benefits and difficulties associated with adopting assistive technology to support students with disabilities, particularly in developing countries. While the challenges may be great, the potential for assistive technology to impact significantly on the educational, social, and recreational outcomes for students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms is immense.
Kim H. Koh
Authentic tasks replicate real-world challenges and standards of performance that experts or professionals typically face in the field. The term “authentic assessment” was first coined by Grant Wiggins in K‒12 educational contexts. Authentic assessment is an effective measure of intellectual achievement or ability because it requires students to demonstrate their deep understanding, higher-order thinking, and complex problem solving through the performance of exemplary tasks. Hence authentic assessment can serve as a powerful tool for assessing students’ 21st-century competencies in the context of global educational reforms. The review begins with a detailed explanation of the concept of authentic assessment. There is a substantial body of literature focusing on the definitions of authentic assessment. However, only those that are original and relevant to educational contexts are included.. Some of the criteria for authentic assessment defined by the authors overlap with each other, but their definitions are consistent. A comparison of authentic assessment and conventional assessment reveals that different purposes are served, as evidenced by the nature of the assessment and item response format. Examples of both types of assessments are included. Three major themes are examined within authentic assessment research in educational contexts: authentic assessment in educational or school reforms, teacher professional learning and development in authentic assessment, and authentic assessment as tools or methods used in a variety of subjects or disciplines in K‒12 schooling and in higher education institutions. Among these three themes, most studies were focused on the role of authentic assessment in educational or school reforms. Future research should focus on building teachers’ capacity in authentic assessment and assessment for learning through a critical inquiry approach in school-based professional learning communities or in teacher education programs. To enable the power of authentic assessment to unfold in the classrooms of the 21st century, it is essential that teachers are not only assessment literate but also competent in designing and using authentic assessments to support student learning and mastery of the 21st-century competencies.
Authenticity is a concept with an impressive history in Western philosophy and a significant hold on the modern imagination. Inseparable from conceptions of truth and individual fulfillment, authenticity remains a powerful ideal, even as it eludes precise definition. Recently it has also become an organizing principle for many educational initiatives. Education, like authenticity, is opposed to dissimulation, ignorance, manipulation, and related states of misalignment between truth and experience. There is widespread enthusiasm for the promotion of authenticity across different types of education and in the personal identity of educators and students. Most of the scholarly literature pertaining to authenticity in education falls outside the scope of philosophical inquiry. But in all cases, the pursuit of authenticity in education rests on various philosophical assumptions about the nature of truth, reality, ethics, and, ultimately, the aims of education.
With the influence of Dewey and 20th-century progressive movements in education, authenticity entered the vernacular of educational theory and practice. Attention to the relationship between learning environments and the “real” world has generated pervasive commitments to authentic learning, authentic pedagogies, authentic curriculum, and authentic assessment practices. Here, “authenticity” is used to track the verisimilitude of an educational practice with respect to some external reality. It constitutes an ontological claim about levels of “reality,” as well as an epistemological attitude toward learning as the construction of knowledge. In this respect, authenticity intersects debates about constructivism and relativism in education. Likewise, teachers are exhorted to be authentic qua teachers, elevating their true selves above institutional anonymity as a key part of effective teaching. This phenomenon trades on the values of truthfulness and autonomy that are prized in Western modernity but also problematized in the personal identity and ethics literature. The authenticity of students has also been championed as an educational aim, even as the methods for eliciting authenticity in others have been criticized as self-defeating or culturally limiting. Personal authenticity stands in a contested relationship to autonomy, which has been promoted as the key aim of liberal education. The project of creating authentic people through education remains an intense site of research and debate, with important implications for educational ethics and liberal values.
Autoethnography is an increasingly popular form of postpositivist narrative inquiry that has recently begun to appear in educational contexts. The multiple lineages of autoethnography include the insider accounts of early anthropologists, literary approaches to life history and autobiography, responses to the ontological/epistemological challenges of postmodern philosophies, feminist and postcolonial insistence on including narratives of the marginalized, performance and communication scholarship, and the interest in personal stories of contemporary therapeutic and trauma cultures. Approaches vary widely from fragmented, experimental, performative, and multimodal texts through to realist tales. Advocates claim that autoethnography enables us to live more reflective, more meaningful, and more just lives.
Fostering self-direction in students has long been an aim for both educators and parents as they fear the potentially coercive influence of peer pressure and the many sources that compete to influence what we think and what we do. These fears have motivated educational philosophers to explore the contours of what such self-direction or autonomous thought and action entails on the demands of individual thinking and behavior but also on the types of educational environments needed to foster its emergence. Likewise, educational philosophers have also argued the merits of promoting autonomy in public schools out of fears that some forms of autonomy may limit the ranges of conceptions of the good life that are available to students; many are concerned that promoting autonomy may inspire students to reject family and community ways of life. Despite those concerns, drawing upon thought that traces back to the ancient Greeks, contemporary educational philosophers continue to debate the contours of and justifications for an autonomy promoting education.
Belmira Oliveira Bueno
Since the 1980s, in different countries, researchers and educators have put into action a number of studies of teachers’ biographies, teachers’ narratives and stories, as well as other ways of employing life history methods, in order to renew the field of education. A vast literature has been produced in the last decades on this perspective, giving testimony to a surprising growth of the educational area under the impulse of such approaches. There was a clear need for a methodological renewal of this field but also a need of a revision of the functions of school and to the way of conceiving education. The idea of lifelong learning frames this scenario and the expectations outlined in the turn of this century, altering profoundly the functions of school and the ends of education. The biographical approaches are taken as an attempt of meeting such demands. However, the work with life histories and biographies has shown different directions, following from a conjugation of factors and from more specific demands for education present in the respective contexts where such experiences have taken place. Such approaches are part of a broader movement of individualization and subjectivism that characterizes contemporary society. The two perspectives focused on in this article—that of English-speaking countries, with a predominant focus on the life and career of teachers; and those developed in Francophone environments, with the focus on the continued education of adults—have shown great growth particularly during the 1980s and 1990s, giving testimony to the appeal that biographical approaches exerted upon researchers and educators. It presents the features of these two trends preceded by an incursion into the field of sociology aiming at highlighting some relevant methodological and epistemological issues. By this way we intend to emphasize the potentiality of biographical approaches to the knowledge of education, drawing attention to the challenges for individuals’ lives in the contemporary society and for the emergence of new ways of conceiving the subjectivities by the new human and social theories.