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Article

Comparison in Qualitative Research  

Lesley Bartlett and Frances Vavrus

Comparison is a valuable and widely touted analytical technique in social research, but different disciplines and fields have markedly different notions of comparison. There are at least two important logics for comparison. The first, the logic of juxtaposition, is guided by a neopositivist orientation. It uses a regularity theory of causation; it structures the study by defining cases, variables, and units of analysis a priori; and it decontextualizes knowledge. The second, the logic of tracing, engages a realist theory of causation and examines how processes unfold, influenced by actors and the meanings they make, over time, in different locations, and at different scales. These two logics of comparison lead to distinct methodological techniques. However, with either logic of comparison, three dangers merit attention: decontextualization, commensurability, and ethnocentrism. One promising research heuristic that attends to different logics of comparison while avoiding these dangers is the comparative case study (CCS) approach. CCS entails three axes of comparison. The horizontal axis encourages comparison of how similar policies and practices unfold across sites at roughly the same level or scale, for example across a set of schools or across home, school, religious institution, and community organization. The vertical axis urges comparison across micro-, meso-, and macro-levels or scales. For example, a study of bilingual education in the United States should attend not only to homes, communities, classroom, and school dynamics (the micro-level), but also to meso-level district, state, and federal policies, as well as to factors influencing international mobility at the macro-level. Finally, the transversal axis, which emphasizes change over time, urges scholars to situate historically the processes or relations under consideration.

Article

Archives and Qualitative Research in Education (from Foucault and Bourdieu’s Approaches)  

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.

Article

Critical Discourse Analysis and Information and Communication Technology in Education  

Cheryl Brown

Critical discourse analysis (CDA) is a cross-disciplinary methodological and theoretical approach. At its core CDA explores the intersections between discourse, critique, power, and ideology which hold particular values for those teaching in developing contexts. CDA has emerged as a valuable methodological approach in cultural and media studies and has increased in prominence since the 2010s in education research where it is drawn on to explore educational policy, literacy education, and identity. This research has intersected with the field of information systems which has explored the dominant discourses and discursive practice of how information and communication technologies (ICTs) are viewed in policy and the contradictions between rhetoric and reality. It has also been drawn on in research in developing contexts to critique the role of ICTs in education. A brief historical background to CDA and overview of the key components of the approach will be provided. How CDA has been drawn on in educational studies will be examined and research on CDA will be highlighted to explore discursive practices of students and the influence of students’ digital identities on their engagement with and experience of online learning. By focusing on four key constructs of CDA—namely meaning, context, identity, and power—the potential of CDA to critically investigate how students’ are constructing their technological identity in an increasingly digital world will be demonstrated, particularly as examples of research emanating from developing contexts will be drawn.

Article

Feminist Theory and Its Use in Qualitative Research in Education  

Emily Freeman

Feminist theory rose in prominence in educational research during the 1980s and experienced a resurgence in popularity during the late 1990s−2010s. Standpoint epistemologies, intersectionality, and feminist poststructuralism are the most prevalent theories, but feminist researchers often work across feminist theoretical thought. Feminist qualitative research in education encompasses a myriad of methods and methodologies, but projects share a commitment to feminist ethics and theories. Among the commitments are the understanding that knowledge is situated in the subjectivities and lived experiences of both researcher and participants and research is deeply reflexive. Feminist theory informs both research questions and the methodology of a project in addition to serving as a foundation for analysis. The goals of feminist educational research include dismantling systems of oppression, highlighting gender-based disparities, and seeking new ways of constructing knowledge.

Article

Sonic Ethnography in Theory 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.

Article

Post-Intentional Phenomenology and Studies of Social Change in Teaching  

Mark D. Vagle

Post-intentional phenomenology is a phenomenological research approach that draws on phenomenological and poststructural philosophies. In its early conceptualization, post-intentional phenomenology was imagined as a philosophical and methodological space in which all sorts of philosophies, theories, and ideas could be put in conceptual dialogue with one another—creating a productive and generative cacophony of philosophies/theories/ideas that accomplishes something(s) that these same individual philosophies/theories/ideas may not be able to do, in the same way at least, on their own. Although this desire remains, post-intentional phenomenology now serves as more of an invitation for others to play with and among philosophies/theories/ideas to see what might come of such playfulness—and to have the work of the methodology itself potentially produce social change, however great or small. The post-intentional phenomenologist is asked not only to identify a phenomenon of interest, but also to situate the phenomenon in context, around a social issue. An underlying assumption of this methodology is that all phenomena are both personal and social—that is, phenomena are lived by individuals and are in a constant state of production and provocation through social relations. Such a methodological configuration can be of use to studies of teaching—as the work of teaching (as a post-intentional phenomenon) is lived, produced, and provoked by all sorts of entangled complexities that may or may not be conscious to the individual.