The relationships between curriculum studies and qualitative inquiry are built upon similar trajectories and theoretical concerns. There are key points in the histories of both of these inter/trans(un)disciplinary fields, the work of certain scholars working in both, and shared concerns. Historically, the lineage of curriculum studies and qualitative inquiry intersect around a shared investigation of education, specifically in schools. Of note is the common turn away from (post)positivism and an attentiveness to emic forms of inquiry that seek to understand from the inside out. Some commonalities include, but are not limited to, currere, duoethnography, autobiography, and broader qualitative research. Comparing the journey of curriculum studies and its qualitative forms of inquiry to traveling through the universe, travel begins on a home planet, reaching the farthest reaches of spaces, but a return is required, or at the very least, eventually inevitable. In the case of curriculum studies, explorers return to curriculum and, therefore, education. As curriculum has expanded beyond questions of knowledge to include the lives of those experiencing curriculum, qualitative inquiry has been a constant and loyal companion forging a journey that does not require one land at the place from which one launched.
Gabriel Huddleston and M. Francyne Huckaby
A culturally affirming approach to research methodology centers Indigenous, Black, People of color in the research process and recognizes the value of our own ways of knowing and sharing knowledge. Unlike a decolonizing methodology that remains tied to a colonial discourse against which it seeks to argue its relevance, an affirming methodology originates from within the worldviews, realities, and practices of the people from whom knowledge is sought and shared. Culturally affirming research is surrounded by its own traditions and ways of knowing so that its worth is in its own right, and it is valuable in and of itself. The Caribbean region, with its indigenous history and localized present forged from peoples both local and global, has created social interactions, rituals, and cultural practices that signify and affirm themselves and their ways of knowing. Indigenous knowledges affirm the diversity of histories and experiences that shape our human development, and indigenous scholarship challenges the oppression by Western academia of indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing. Liming and ole talk is a uniquely Caribbean way of knowing, having its origins in the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Liming explains the way we have learned to share knowledge and is reflective of our thinking, experiences, values, and principles. Ole talk is not only what knowledge we share but how we share that knowledge. Liming methodology, incorporating liming as research methodology and ole talk as research method, is not derived from Western interpretations but grounded within a Caribbean context. Liming methodology has been developed and employed as a culturally affirming research methodology for use with Caribbean peoples and in Caribbean contexts. Understanding ourselves can only be done when we center our cultures without the shadow of a colonial or decolonizing framework and when the questions that we ask and the solutions that we seek emanate from what we truly affirm and embrace to be ours. Liming methodology emphasizes the relational aspects of sharing knowledge and the solidarity that this brings to the practices, experiences, and histories of Black, Indigenous, and People of color. Research methodologies such as liming and ole talk, based on regionally relevant theoretical frameworks intrinsic to Caribbean social and historical authenticities, allow us to gain a more accurate and true knowledge of the world of our people.
Inquiry is not honored as “research” unless it is marked by some kind of discipline in the sense of its systematic and sustained approach, the rigor of its methods, or perhaps its situated scholarship—its disciplined character. Historically and in the contemporary academy, such discipline has been differentiated and socially institutionalized in the form of disciplines—forms of knowledge distinguished (not always tidily) by their methods of inquiry, central concepts, and a body of scholarship. Interdisciplinarity, cross-disciplinarity, and transdisciplinarity presuppose disciplinarity, and if they are to stand as research, they require some kind of rigor or discipline. Education in itself is not a distinctive discipline in this sense; rather, it is a field of inquiry that draws on the wide range of disciplinary resources available in the academy including disciplinary, multidisciplinary, and interdisciplinary approaches to its themes. At one stage educational research drew especially on the disciplines of history, philosophy, psychology, and sociology, though this formulation has varied internationally and has evolved over time as new disciplines have joined the traditional disciplines and these have at the same time fragmented and hybridized. These developments, among others, have led to notions of postdisciplinarity, but discipline in research is a condition both of discerning what is most deserving of belief and of making a “community of arguers” possible, however its particular forms evolve and expand.
Since its initial discovery in the early 1980s, through the development of treatment and prophylaxis medications as well as continued attempts at vaccination development, HIV/AIDS has changed the narrative about infectious diseases around the world. It has led to recognition of the complexities of the intersections of sexuality, gender, race, age, culture, and socioeconomic status while simultaneously highlighting gender inequities in all aspects of the disease. These inequities present in clinical trials that include only subsets of the population, prevention strategies that are offered based on oversimplified assumptions about sexual behaviors, and limited education about risk for everyone from schoolchildren through medical professionals. Activists and public health advocates push for inclusion and transparency in research and treatment for HIV/AIDS, but education at all levels has lagged. The United Nations and the International Conference on Population Development have declared school-based sex education a goal for all countries in order to reduce the health burden of HIV/AIDS. Sex education in schools varies between and within countries, with no standardization of how to best educate youth about sex, reproductive health, or disease prevention. Despite continued challenges with curriculum incorporation and content, research suggests that key qualities of an effective educational program include the creation of a safe space for student questions, inclusion of diverse voices, and clear guidance for preventing sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDS. In order to mitigate continued inequity over the next several decades and beyond, comprehensive HIV/AIDS education must emphasize the intersectionality of gender, sexuality, race, age, culture, and socioeconomic status at all levels from elementary introductions through training for medical and mental health researchers and providers.
Suniti Sharma and JoAnn Phillion
Since the 1970s, following the crisis of representation, narrative inquiry has opened educational research to story as a valuable source of knowledge production across the field, in general, and curriculum studies, in particular. While competing approaches continue to shift and expand how scholars understand narrative inquiry across curriculum studies, a common thread in the scholarship is the positioning of story at the heart of teaching, learning, and research. Narrative inquiry has pushed the field of curriculum studies toward exploration of story as a way of examining the master narrative and its construction of the universal human subject that privileges some discourses and marginalizes others. Scholars who engage with story as the basis for “doing” curriculum studies interrupt positivist methodologies, universal ontologies, and foundational epistemologies that inform educational policies and practices to shape the lived experience of exclusion. On the one hand, scholars of narrative inquiry use story to deconstruct exclusionary educational policies and practices and highlight the social, cultural, and political significance of the lived educational experience of those historically marginalized from traditional curriculum discourse. On the other hand, critics contest the limits of story as a research genre or pedagogical practice, arguing that narratives perpetuate ways of silencing or lose critical importance when personal stories do not connect with political action. Each side of the debate, in its way, generates spaces for new ways of thinking about the place of story in the production of educational knowledge, especially how curriculum scholars engage with the multiplicity of human experience within a network of changing and contextual relations. Reflective of diverse orientations, narrative inquiry in curriculum studies continues to be conceptualized, practiced, and contested in differing ways as methodology/form of inquiry; modes of expression; and, pedagogical and political practice for engaging with the telling, analyzing, and interpreting of story as a way of understanding lived experience.
Testimonio involves bearing witness to the collective experiences of historically marginalized communities, particularly as it relates to their oppression, resistance, and resilience. As an approach, it is an inherently decolonial process since it decenters Eurocentric knowledge and challenges power. Unlike oral history, memoir, or autoethnography, testimonio positions itself as an urgent and political voicing that rejects notions of objectivity and neutrality. Instead, it posits that there exist multiple truths of which each contributes to producing our understanding of a collective reality. Similar to these different practices, testimonio does not have a predictable or set structure as it can take the form of a poem, speech, interview, letter, and so on. Each of these, however, involves a public accounting of human experiences that have the ability to build solidarity. Testimonio finds its formal roots in Latin America; however, as a practice it could be argued that it predates most traditional approaches as it has long existed within indigenous cultures that observe oral traditions and storytelling. Testimonio has been used primarily for movement building and resistance as marginalized groups globally named the oppressive practices of their governments and institutions. Since the late 1990s, testimonio has found a home in education, where scholars have deployed it as a strategy for visibilizing the experiences of people of color and women, especially Chicanas and Latinas. Additionally, testimonio has been adapted as a pedagogical tool, research method, and methodology. In the classroom, testimonio can help reveal the varying experiences and knowledge that students bring into the classroom. As a research method and methodology, testimonio compels researchers to reenvision their role in the research process and their relationship to their participants.
S. Anthony Thompson
Investigative practices, including research methodologies, approaches, processes, as well as knowledge dissemination efforts continue to evolve within inclusive or special education. So too do such practices evolve within related fields such as nursing, psychology, community-based care, health promotion, etc. There are several research approaches that promote the tools required to effect inclusive education, such as: evidence-based practice (EBP), EBP in practice, creative secondary uses of (anonymous) data, collective impact, qualitative evidence synthesis (QES), and lines of action (LOA). Other approaches that promote a more inclusive education research agenda more generally, include action research and participatory action research, inclusive research, appreciative inquiry, and arts-based educational research.
Peer-led and youth-led sex education primarily involves young people teaching other young people about sex, sexuality, and sexual health. This approach gained in popularity during the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s–1990s, as community organizations sought to address the unique sexual health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth, many of whom had been underserved in traditional sex education spaces. Since then, peer-led and youth-led sex education pedagogies have been implemented by researchers, educators, and community organizations working across a range of sites around the globe. Peer-led and youth-led sex education generally draws on assumptions that young people are better situated than adults to talk to their peers about sexual health and/or to model positive sexual health behavior. However, some have noted that this perspective constructs young people as a homogenous group and ignores the ways in which sexuality and sexual health intersects with other social factors. Furthermore, there is a general lack of consensus across interventions around who constitutes a “peer” and what constitutes “peer-led” sex education, resulting in the development of interventions that at times tokenize young people, without engaging them in meaningful ways. As a result, evaluations of many peer- and youth-led sex education pedagogies suggest that even as these pedagogies improve young people’s knowledge of sexual health-related topics, they often don’t result in long-term sexual health behavior change. However, many evaluations of peer- and youth-led sex education pedagogies do suggest that acting as a peer educator is of immense benefit to those who take on this role, pointing to the need for program developers to reconsider what effective sex education pedagogy might look like. A “social ecology” or “systems thinking” approach to youth sexual health may provide alternative models for thinking about the future of peer-led and youth-led sex education. These approaches don’t task peer- and youth-led sex education with the sole responsibility of changing young people’s sexual health-related outcomes, but rather situate peer-led sex education as one potential node in the larger confluence of factors that shape and constrain young people’s sexual health.
Assessment needs to be a positive experience that can incite learners to progress their learning, understand themselves as learners, become excited about what they learn, and acknowledge that learning is more than the specified and often prescribed curriculum. Educational assessment typically requires students to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding, or application of their skills as a way to demonstrate their learning or, more specifically, their learning outcomes. Often this is to attract an external grade or mark related to an externally identified “standard,” or to show their level of “need” and thereby access additional resources. Students generally have little say in when or what is assessed, and their experiences have largely not been taken into account. There is a distinct difference between what a student learns and how the assessment results reflect their learning. To incite learning, assessment practices and processes need to celebrate learning and provide learners with positive, encouraging messages that their efforts contribute to their own growth. When the assessment process enables learners to see their own culture and identity valued, and allows opportunities to showcase diversity of learning, it becomes a meaningful and authentic process. In educational contexts, the process of assessment is typically an approach to support, measure, initiate, monitor, and explain the learning of self or others. Assessment of student learning has complex social, emotional, and academic influences on learners and on their lives more generally. A key unintended consequence of these practices has been well documented with regards to negative social and emotional consequences for the student, and these must be weighed against the “good” any assessment will do in terms of knowing the student and their learning aspirations. However, while there are distracting elements associated with the assessment of students, there is also value in using appropriate methods and processes to enhance and incite learning. Ultimately the rights of the learner to be included in their own assessment practices is key, and therefore it is argued the young person must be an agentic and capable assessor of their own learning for any assessment to be educational, culturally relevant, and authentic.
Meagan Karvonen, Neal M. Kingston, Michael L. Wehmeyer, and W. Jake Thompson
Historically pervasive models of disability as a deficit negatively impacted thinking about the accessibility of educational assessments and how this issue should be addressed. In a deficit-based model, assessments are designed without consideration of individual differences and students with disabilities receive accommodations as an exception to the typical administration. With the shift to social models of disability, the assessment field has concomitantly adopted new approaches to designing and administering assessments that recognize variability in how individuals interact with assessments. Inclusive assessment requires that conditions are in place to support the validity of score inferences for their intended uses—for all students. Inclusive assessment requires moving past a deficit-based model and designing for examinee variability. An inclusive model requires knowledge of student characteristics and new ways of thinking about student-item interactions. Computer-based testing and other technologies such as alternative or augmentative communication devices provide support for flexible assessment administration. One way to ensure inclusive assessments meet professional standards for quality is to blend evidence-centered design and universal design principles. Evidence-centered design has five stages that span from construct definition to inferences made from test scores: domain analysis, domain modeling, conceptual assessment framework, assessment implementation, and assessment delivery. Assessment developers can use universal design principles to minimize construct-irrelevant variance by attending to the student’s engagement when presented with assessment stimuli and items, articulating the information the student needs to know in order to respond correctly, and providing multiple means to communicate responses. When evidence-centered design and universal design are blended, these approaches support inclusive assessment design, administration, and scoring, as well as evidence for validity and technical adequacy. Shifts in policy and educational practice are also necessary to support inclusive assessment.