Martinette V. Horner, Derrick D. Jordan, and Kathleen M. Brown
Academic optimism was developed in 2006 as a latent concept that provides insight into the improvement of student outcomes especially for those who, because of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and other demographics, have historically been labeled as underperforming. The three main components of academic optimism (academic emphasis, collective emphasis, and faculty trust) underscore the reality that the teachers, parents, and students all play a critical role in the education arena when it comes to ensuring that students fully grow and stretch to the fullest extent possible. High academic optimism in a school suggests that academic achievement is valued and supported; the faculty has the capacity to help students achieve; and students and parents can be trusted as partners of the school for student achievement. Each of these can be controlled by the actions and decisions of school leaders and faculty so that schools can overcome the effects of poverty on student achievement.
Paula Groves Price
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Race has historically been, and continues to be, a significant issue in all aspects of American society. In the field of education, racial inequality is prominent in the areas of access, opportunity, and outcomes. Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a framework that offers researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers a race-conscious approach to understanding educational inequality and structural racism to find solutions that lead to greater justice. Placing race at the center of analysis, Critical Race Theory scholars interrogate policies and practices that are taken for granted to uncover the overt and covert ways that racist ideologies, structures, and institutions create and maintain racial inequality.
In the field of education, CRT is a helpful tool for analyzing policy issues such as school funding, segregation, language policies, discipline policies, and testing and accountability policies. It is also helpful for critically examining the larger issues of epistemology and knowledge production, which are reflected in curriculum and pedagogy. As education is one of the major institutions of knowledge production and dissemination, CRT scholars often push the field to critically examine the master or dominant narratives reproduced in schools and the counter-narratives that are silenced. CRT is a theoretical framework that provides education researchers, policy makers, and practitioners with critical lenses to deconstruct oppressive policies and practices and to construct more emancipatory systems for racial equity and justice.
In 1903, standing at the dawn of the 20th century, W. E. B. Du Bois wrote that the color line is the defining characteristic of American society. Well into the 21st century, Du Bois’s prescience sadly still rings true. Even when a society is built on a commitment to equality, and even with the election of its first black president, the United States has been unsuccessful in bringing about an end to the rampant and violent effects of racism, as numerous acts of racial violence in the media have shown. For generations, scholars of color, among them Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Franz Fanon, have maintained that whiteness lies at the center of the problem of racism. It is only relatively recently that the critical study of whiteness has become an academic field, committed to disrupting racism by problematizing whiteness as a corrective to the traditional exclusive focus on the racialized “other.”
Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) is a growing field of scholarship whose aim is to reveal the invisible structures that produce and reproduce white supremacy and privilege. CWS presumes a certain conception of racism that is connected to white supremacy. In advancing the importance of vigilance among white people, CWS examines the meaning of white privilege and white privilege pedagogy, as well as how white privilege is connected to complicity in racism. Unless white people learn to acknowledge, rather than deny, how whites are complicit in racism, and until white people develop an awareness that critically questions the frames of truth and conceptions of the “good” through which they understand their social world, Du Bois’s insight will continue to ring true.
Michelle Bryan and Ashlee Lewis
As a form of applied research, program evaluation is concerned with determining the worth, merit, or value of a program or project using various research methods. Over the past 20 years, the field of program evaluation has seen an expansion in the number of approaches deemed useful in accomplishing the goals of an evaluation. One of the newest approaches to the practice of evaluation is culturally responsive evaluation. Practitioners of CRE draw from a “responsive approach” to evaluation that involves being attuned to and responsive toward not only the program itself, but also its larger cultural context and the lives and experiences of program staff and stakeholders. CRE views culture broadly as the totality of shared beliefs, behaviors, values, and customs socially transmitted within a group and which shapes group members’ world view and ways of life. Further, with respect to their work, culturally responsive evaluators share similar commitments with scholars to critical qualitative inquiry, including a belief in moving inquiry (evaluation) beyond description to intervention in the pursuit of progressive social change, as well as positioning their work as a means by which to confront injustices in society, particularly the marginalization of people of color. Owing to these beliefs and aims, culturally responsive evaluators tend to lean toward a more qualitative orientation, both epistemologically and methodologically. Thus, when taken up in practice, culturally responsive evaluation can be read as a form of critical qualitative inquiry.
There are at least three approaches to Islamic education: interpretive, critical, and deconstructive understandings of Islamic education. These mutually intertwined approaches to Islamic education lend themselves to various practices through which they engender specific human actions. In the main, the notion of Islamic education can be attentive to some of the ethical dilemmas in the contemporary world, such as human trafficking, global warming, and global terrorism. First, education in Islam is constituted by the notions of hudā (guidance), tarbiyyah (socialization), and hikmah (wisdom)—underlying meanings that give Islamic education its distinctive form. These are also referred to as three intertwined theoretical approaches to Islamic education. In turn, these concepts can give rise to various human actions referred to as practices of Islamic education. Therefore, second, the aforementioned educative concepts engender a’māl (human actions) that can be responsive to undermining ethical dilemmas in the contemporary world, such as ijtihād (individual striving), shūrā (dialogical/deliberative engagement), and ummah (communal action). As a consequence of the prevalence of major ethical predicaments in and about Islamic education in especially the Arab and Muslim world, it is argued that dilemmas of parochialism and male chauvinism, religious and ideological differences, and Islamophobia can most appropriately be addressed through critical and responsible human action. Therefore, third, the a’māl of ijtihād (individual striving), shūrā (dialogical/deliberative engagement), and ummah (communal action) can cultivate responsibility, humanity, diversity, and concern for the other in dealing with the aforementioned human predicaments.
Petra Munro Hendry
Within contemporary, conventional, interpretive, qualitative paradigms, narrative and curriculum theorizing have traditionally been understood as primary constructs through which educational researchers seek to explain, represent, and conduct inquiry about education. This article traces shifting understandings of Western constructs of narrative and curriculum theorizing from a modernist perspective, in which they were conceived primarily as methods central to the representation of knowledge, to postmodernist perspectives in which they are conceptualized not as epistemological constructs, but as ethical/ontological systems of becoming through/in relationships. Historically, the emergence of “curriculum” and “narrative” (as phenomena) within a modernist, technocratic paradigm, rooted in an epistemological worldview, were constructed as “technologies” whose purpose was to represent knowledge. Current critiques of narrative and curriculum theorizing from the perspective of postmodern, poststructural, feminist, and new materialist perspectives illuminate understandings of these constructs as ethical-ontological-epistemological phenomena. From this perspective, narrative and curriculum theorizing have shifted from being understood as grounded in epistemology in order to provide “better” understanding/knowledge of experience, and alternatively are understood as ethical obligations to “be” in a web of relationships/intra-actions.
Angus Macfarlane, Sonja Macfarlane, and Toby Curtis
In the context of Māori and Indigenous ways of knowing, a recurring theme in professional educative discourse is the notion that it would be advantageous for educators and researchers to attain enhanced understandings of Māori worldviews, Maōri histories, Maōri experiences of struggle, Māori lived realities—and of the nascent, yet optimistic, contentions by Māori about their roles in theoretical developments and educational jurisdictions. How might adopting a power-sharing partnership approach within these parameters strengthen research endeavors? How might such an approach be mutually beneficial? How might it be monitored? These and other questions continue to be posed by Māori. What is consistently being recommended by Māori is the need for researchers to broaden and deepen their awareness and respect for knowledge that flows from different, yet potentially complementary, streams—in this case, the Māori and Western knowledge streams. Progress is happening, but it is not embedded within the culture or research that is with, about and for Māori. We argue that it is now timely for social scientists, cultural critics, political analysis, research funders, and academics to move from commentary to commitment.
In this article, the authors propose that by exploring Māori philosophies and developing a deeper and more meaningful understanding of theoretical models that can potentially enhance and deepen cultural awareness, both Māori and non-Māori researchers can be assisted and supported, in their respective fields, to achieve more culturally robust, inclusive, and sustainable research findings. Such models provide frameworks—in essence, an adaptable set of options—for research operations that acknowledge voices, histories, and contributions and thereby support both cultural enhancement and culturally safe research practice.
Pacific research methodologies refer to Indigenous research that is conducted from the ontological and epistemological standpoint of Pacific peoples. Pacific research methodologies are an act of decolonial resistance that recognizes the legitimacy of Pacific ontologies and epistemologies, enabling research that is truly reflective of Pacific peoples. They are a response to colonial research patterns that have framed and stereotyped Pacific peoples in problematic ways. Pacific research methodologies are a resurgence practice that empowers Pacific people to define and critique the Pacific from a Pacific viewpoint. They include but are not limited to vanua, kakala, talanoa, ula, and fa’afaletui. They can be regionally specific, such as the vanua or kakala, and they can also be pan-Pacific and refer to shared values, such as respect, reciprocity, communal relationships, collective responsibility, gerontocracy, humility, love and charity, service, and spirituality. Pacific duality means that Pacific research methodologies can be both pan-Pacific and regional. Pacific research methodologies continue to be developed as more Pacific people enter the research space.
One could easily argue that Pacific research methodologies (PRM) and Pacific relational ethics (PRE) are not new: a genealogy of approach would take one back to the ancient Pacific philosophers and practitioners of ancient indigenous knowledges—indeed back to Tagaloa-a-lagi and the 10 heavens. However, in the last two decades, there has been a renaissance of PRM and PRE taken up by Pacific researchers based in New Zealand and the wider Pacific to counter the Western hegemonic tradition of how research is carried out and why—especially research involving Pacific people, families, and communities. In the diaspora, as ethnic minorities and in their island homes, as Third World nations, Pacific peoples and communities are struggling to survive in contexts of diasporic social marginalization and a neocolonial globalizing West. So there is a need to take stock of what contemporary expressions of PRM and PRE are, how they have developed, and why they are needed. This renaissance seeks to decolonize and reindigenise research agendas and research outputs by doing research based on Pacific indigenous theories, PRM, and PRE. It demands that research carried out with Pacific peoples and communities is ethical and methodologically sound with transformational outputs. In reality, the crisis in Pacific research is the continuing adherence to traditional Western theories and research methods that undermine and overshadow the va—the sacred, spiritual, and social spaces of human relationships between researcher and researched that Pacific peoples place at the center of all human/environment/cosmos/ancestors and animate/inanimate interactions. When human relationships are secondary to research theories and methods, the research result is ineffective and meaningless and misinforms policy formation and education delivery, thereby maintaining the inequitable positioning of Pacific peoples across all demographic indices, especially in the field of Pacific education.
The Samoan indigenous reference of teu le va, which means to value, nurture, and care for (teu) the secular/sacred and social/spiritual spaces (va) of all relationships, and Teu le Va , the Ministry of Education research guideline, both evoke politicians, educational research institutions, funders, and researchers to value, nurture, and, if necessary, tidy up the va. In a troubling era of colonizing research methodologies and researcher nonaccountability, Pacific educational researchers can take inspiration from a range of philosophical theorizing based on the development of a suite of PRMs.
Parental involvement is frequently touted as a key part of any solution to the achievement gap in US schools. Yet the mainstream model of parental involvement has been challenged on the grounds that it neglects parents’ political agency, the cultural diversity of families, and the empirical evidence of limited efficacy. This article argues that to understand parental involvement’s promise and limitations, it is necessary to consider it in historical context. Accordingly, it traces the history of “parental involvement” as a policy goal through the past half century. It provides an account of the mainstream parental involvement research, as well as critiques. Ultimately, the article argues that parental involvement is neither boon nor bane. As an important aspect of the politics of public schooling, parental involvement has diverse effects, which can support or hinder equity and student success.
Mary Jo Hinsdale
One could easily argue that the pedagogy of relation is not new: a genealogy of the approach would send us back to the ancient Greek philosophers. However, in recent years relational pedagogy has been taken up in novel and ever-deepening ways. It is a response to ongoing efforts at school reform that center on teacher and administrator accountability, based on a constraining view of education as the effective teaching of content. In this view, methods, curricula, and high-stakes testing overshadow the human relationship between teacher and student that relational pedagogy theorists place at the center of educational exchanges. When relationships are secondary to content, the result can be disinterested or alienated students and teachers who feel powerless to step outside the mandated curriculum of their school district.
Offering an alternative vision of pedagogy in a troubling era of teacher accountability, contemporary relational theorists take inspiration from a range of philosophical writings. This article focuses on those whose work is informed by the concept of caring, as developed by Nel Noddings, with the critical perspective of Paulo Freire, or the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas. Although these approaches to ethical educational relations do not necessarily mesh together easily, the tensions among them can bear fruit that informs our pedagogy.
Sara Tolbert, Paulina Grino, and Tenzin Sonam
Since the late 20th century, scholarship in science education has made considerable shifts from cognitive psychology and individual constructivism toward sociocultural theories of science education as frameworks for science teaching and learning. By and large, this scholarship has attended to the ways in which both doing and learning science are embedded within sociocultural contexts, whereby learners are enculturated into scientific practices through classroom-based or scientific learning communities, such as through an apprenticeship model. Still, science education theories and practice do not systematically take into account the experiences, interests, and concerns of marginalized student groups within science and science education. Critical sociocultural perspectives in science education take up issues and questions of how science education can better serve the interests of marginalized groups, while simultaneously creating spaces for marginalized groups to transform the sciences, and science education.
These shifts in science education scholarship have been accompanied by a similar shift in qualitative research methods. Research methods in science education are transitioning from a focus on positivistic content analysis of learners’ conceptions of core ideas in science, toward more robust qualitative methods—such as design experimentation, critical ethnography, and participatory research methods—that show how learners’ identities are constituted with the complex spaces of science classrooms, as well as within larger societal matrices of oppression. The focus of this article is to communicate these recent trends in sociocultural perspectives on science education theory, research, and practice.
Walter S. Gershon
As its name suggests, sonic ethnography sits at the intersection of studies of sound and ethnographic methodologies. This methodological category can be applied to interpretive studies of sound, ethnographic studies that foreground sound theoretically and metaphorically, and studies that utilize sound practices similar to those found in forms of audio recording and sound art, for example. Just as using ocular metaphors or video practices does not make an ethnographic study any more truthful, the use of sonic metaphors or audio recording practices still requires the painstaking, ethical, reflexivity, time, thought, analysis, and care that are hallmarks for strong ethnographies across academic fields and disciplines. Similarly, the purpose of sonic ethnography is not to suggest that sound is any more real or important than other sensuous understandings but is instead to underscore the power and potential of the sonic for qualitative researchers within and outside of education. A move to the sonic is theoretically, methodologically, and practically significant for a variety of reasons, not least of which are (a) its ability to interrupt ocular pathways for conceptualizing and conducting qualitative research; (b) for providing a mode for more actively listening to local educational ecologies and the wide variety of things, processes, and understandings of which they are comprised; (c) ethical and more transparent means for expressing findings; and (d) a complex and deep tool for gathering, analyzing, and expressing ethnographic information. In sum, sonic ethnography opens a world of sound possibilities for educational researchers that at once deepen and provide alternate pathways for understanding everyday educational interactions and the sociocultural contexts that help render those ways of being, doing, and knowing sensible.
Since the late 1960s and early 1970s, there has been a great deal of criticism of the colonial heritage of early ethnographic research. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, scholars have also raised concerns about the colonial heritage of comparative education. Erwin Epstein defined comparative education as “the application of the intellectual tools of history and social sciences to understand international issues of education.” Hence, it is important for comparative education as a global field of study to engage with the recent debates in social sciences to generate deeper understanding about educational problems embedded within specific international contexts. The dominance of Northern theory in analyzing research data from the Global South has been increasingly critiqued by scholars in a number of scholarly publications since Raewyn Connell published her book Southern Theory in 2008. They have argued that Northern theory arising out of the colonial metropole is provincial in nature and, therefore, provides incomplete interpretation of data and generates misunderstanding or limited understanding of social phenomenon occurring in the hybrid contexts of the Global South. Therefore, lately scholars have been debating about postcolonial comparative education to argue for the relevance of Southern theory in conducting postcolonial comparative education research for both analytic (ideological), as well as hermeneutic (affective historical) engagement with research data. Drawing on the methodological insights from an empirical case study, this article demonstrates why Southern theory drawing on Tagore’s philosophy of education was found more suitable to analyze research data arising out of a case study designed to conduct an institutional ethnography in a particular international context. It demonstrates how contextually relevant Southern theory helped to provide deeper comparative understanding (verstehen) of a social phenomenon, i.e. inclusive pedagogic work of an old colonial school within a particular historical, geopolitical and cultural context in postcolonial India.
Roland W. Mitchell, Nicholas E. Mitchell, and Chaunda A. Mitchell
Spirituality and education have historically been tightly intertwined concepts. Spirituality is the timeless pursuit by humanity for certainty, understanding, and an abiding connection to each other and the cosmos. Education represents humanity’s efforts at grouping practices, insights, and often contested knowledges in such a manner that they are passed across generations, groups, and communities. The combination of the two reflects humanity’s pursuit at making sense out of the environment.
Cheryl E. Matias, Naomi W. Nishi, and Geneva L. Sarcedo
A litany of literature exists on teacher preparation programs, known as teacher education, and whiteness, which is the historical, systematic, and structural processes that maintain the race-based superiority of white people over people of color. The theoretical frameworks of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) are used to explore whiteness and teacher education separately; whiteness within teacher education; the impact of teacher education and whiteness on white educators, educators of Color, and their students; and cautions and recommendations for teacher education and whiteness.
Although teacher education and whiteness are situated within the current US sociopolitical context, the historical colonial contexts of other countries may find parallel examples of whiteness. Within this context, the historical purposes behind teacher education and the need for quality teachers in an increasingly diverse student population are identified using transdisciplinary approaches in CRT and CWS to define and describe operations of whiteness in teacher education. Particularly, race education scholars entertain the psychoanalytic, philosophical, and sociological ruminations of race, racism, and white supremacy in society and education to understand more fully how whiteness operates within teacher education. For example, an analysis of psychological attachments found in racial identities, particularly between whiteness and Blackness, helps to fully comprehend racial dynamics between teachers, who are overwhelmingly racially identified as white, and students, who are predominantly racially identified as of Color.
Whiteness in teacher education, left intact, ultimately affects K-12 schooling and students, particularly students of Color, in ways that recycle institutionalized white supremacy in schooling practices. Acknowledging how reinforcing hegemonic whiteness in teacher education ultimately reifies institutional white supremacy in education altogether; implications and cautions as well as recommendations are offered to debunk the hegemonic whiteness that inoculates teacher education.
Note: To symbolically reverse the racial hierarchy in our research, the authors opt to use lowercase lettering for white and whiteness, and to capitalize “people of Color” to recognize it as a proper noun along with Black and Brown.