Since the turn of this century, and especially in the past decade, Singapore has consistently done well in international benchmark studies, be it the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), or the International Baccalaureate diploma assessment. Singapore’s sterling performance in these different benchmark assessments has been widely attributed to the quality of its teaching force, which is, in turn, ascribed to the teacher education programs provided by its sole teacher education institution – the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Teacher education began during the country’s colonial past, but there was no designated provider of comprehensive training until teacher training was institutionalized in 1950, when the Teacher Training College was established. After Singapore gained independence in 1965, the institution’s capacity expanded rapidly as a teacher training department and later as a statutory board within the Ministry of Education. In 1991, to raise the stature of teacher education, the Teacher Training College was incorporated as an autonomous institute within the newly formed NTU. Due to the need to ensure the survival of a tiny island nation over the years, it has been imperative to educate the population for industry and development. In the process, tensions have arisen from: (a) the recruitment of huge numbers of teachers and the concomitant quality of their training, (b) collaboration with the Ministry of Education, and (c) the influence of educational research on theory and practice. In the third decade of the 21st century, with the stranglehold that neoliberalism has on many educational systems around the world, including Singapore, will NIE be able to prepare its future teachers to navigate and survive in such a climate, while continuing to strengthen its theory-practice nexus? With the dwindling of student numbers across all sectors and the accompanying reduced need for new teachers in the country, will NIE look beyond the shores of Singapore, internationalize its programs, and take on a leadership role in the region?
Teacher Education in Singapore
Jason Loh and Guangwei Hu
School Ethnography in Chile
Paulina Contreras, Eduardo Santa Cruz G., Jenny Assaél, and Andrea Valdivia
In Chile, ethnographic studies of schools started 30 years ago. At the time, most of the educational research in Latin America was done through quantitative methodologies, which didn’t show school processes in their proper contexts. In this scenario, a group of Latin-American educational researchers came together to develop a critical qualitative research network, in which Chile adopted the form of the first school ethnography research team in the country. From that, a new means of research was developed, aimed towards understanding everyday life in schools, which was what the “black box” quantitative research was unable to see. This innovation allowed these ethnographers to understand schools as a singular and complex reality. They took up a Latin American critical-historical epistemological approach, understanding that schools require a thick description, historically contextualized, that also considers the structures that determine a school’s singularity. Chilean school ethnographies in the last 30 years have focused on the ways in which concrete social relationships take place in situated historical contexts, from the dictatorship of the 1980s to current neoliberal educational policy. They have allowed the visualization of the effects that more general political, economic, and social transformations have had in the schools’ daily organization and practices. In this trajectory, there have been different approaches to educational policy; some take on a critical perspective and others aim to inform and influence policy. School ethnography has addressed a variety of topics, from school failure in its beginnings, to youth culture, civic engagement, ethnicity, learning and development, and gender and educational policy. This diversity, however, has a common interest: the subordinated or excluded cultural forms and subjectivities, which are the consequence of power relationships and normative structures that are reproduced in schools.
Feminist Theory and Its Use in Qualitative Research in Education
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.
The Principles, Possibilities and Politics of Community-Based Educational Research
Globally, there is a shift toward embracing educational research with a social justice intent, based on the principles of inclusion, authentic participation, and democratic decision-making. This shift toward doing research with, rather than on, participants could be seen as a reaction to the criticism of contemporary universities being exclusive and in need of finding ways to connect with traditionally marginalized groups. Universities need to be more responsive to the real learning and development needs of communities and use their theoretical knowledge to complement and facilitate, rather than direct, research conducted in partnership with those whose lives are directly affected by the phenomenon being studied. Community-based educational research accepts local knowledge as the starting point of sustainable change and the learning and development of all involved as an important outcome of the research process. Community-based research thus has an educative intent; it is also inherently political since it aims to change systems that breed inequity. Yet these very characteristics stand in opposition to the neoliberal, silo-like models of operation in academia, where the bottom line trumps social impact in most strategic decisions. Negotiating the bureaucratic boundaries regarding the ethics of community-based research becomes a major hurdle for most researchers and often leads to compromises that contradict and undermine the ideal of partnership and equitable power relations. There is a pressing need to rethink how we “do” community-based educational research to ensure it is truly educational for all. This begs the question, in what ways does the academy need to change to accommodate educational research that contributes to the sustainable learning and development of people and to the democratization of knowledge? Community-based educational research can help close the gap between theory and practice, between academic and community researcher.
Educational Qualitative Research in Colombia
Paula Andrea Echeverri-Sucerquia and Carlos Tobon
The historic agreement signed between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government, as well as the peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), mark the beginning of an end to decades of raw violence in Colombia. Against all odds, Colombia has found ways to survive the pain, to heal, and to begin anew. The Colombian experience mirrors that of many other Latin American nations, as well as others around the world, where a history built in the midst of war, violence, and resilience has shaped people’s ways of interpreting the world and building knowledge. Evidence of this is the focus of conference papers, theses, and dissertations presented at international conferences by and about Latin Americans. Undeniably, in spite of the particularities that describe the Latin American social experience, the hemispheric North has exerted a great epistemological influence in the South. However, Southerners have imprinted their idiosyncrasies, their own ways of understanding, creating, and transforming. A review of educational qualitative research in Colombia illustrates this tension: on the one hand is the focus on evidence-based research, highly influenced by academic work in the North, and, on the other hand, there is a struggle for research that strives for social justice. Such complex tension entails both challenges and opportunities for qualitative research in education.
A History of Qualitative Research in Education in China
Since the early 2000s, qualitative research (QR) emerged as an interpretive approach and has gained increasing interest in education in China, while it is deeply rooted in Chinese intellectual history. Indigenously, the concept of QR methodology sought to explore the richness, depth, and complexity of phenomena, which was a way to gain insights through discovering meanings by improving the comprehension of the whole overall. In the 1920s, pioneering intellectuals promoted Western education or new education in the New Culture Movement (around the time of the May 4 Movement in 1919), led by Hu Shih, Chen Tuhsiu, Li Tachao, and others. They actively advocated democracy and science. The May 4th Campaign dealt a heavy blow to the traditional rituals that ruled China for more than 2,000 years. It has inspired people’s democratic consciousness and promoted the development of modern science in China. Quantitative research, like statistical methods, was introduced in the field of education. With the development of theories and methods of probabilistic statistics for studying randomness, small sample theory, statistical estimation, and statistical tests were widely introduced in the 1940s. In the upcoming decades, for many, quantitative research evoked a strong allegiance in academia, particularly in education, since it was considered to be based on a belief in science, perhaps more so than what many considered qualitative research in China. Actually, the relationship between qualitative and quantitative research in education has been fraught with misunderstanding, confusion, and tension in China. After the 1990s, QR, which has been primarily advocated by Western researchers, has also grown in importance in educational and cultural studies in China as a methodological approach to research that aligns in important ways with quantitative research. Thus, internal tensions within the field of education have also emerged. Yet, though both approaches vary and have distinct genealogies and commitments, QR may be seen as a broad methodological genre in which open-ended interviews, participatory and non-participation observation, literature analysis, case studies, and other methods of social phenomena engage in long-term, in-depth, and meticulous studies. Such critically oriented QR has important implications for educational research.
Collaboration in Educational Ethnography in Latin America
Diana Milstein, Angeles Clemente, and Alba Lucy Guerrero
There are epistemological, methodological, and textual dimensions of collaborative educational ethnography (CEE) in Latin America that have spread and consolidated over the last twenty-five years. The beginnings of CEE were marked by sociopolitical struggles (social resistance movements and repressive dictatorships) but also were enlightened by thinkers like Fals Borda and Freire, who foresaw social transformation through a theory/action/participation tie. The result was several educational ethnographic studies carried out by groups of researchers working in networks. To a large extent, they aimed to problematize contradictions between official school education and the sociocultural realities of teachers and students. This type of research also aimed to understand and intervene in social change processes, which encouraged the incorporation of teachers as researchers in ethnographic studies. Teachers’ participation in research processes opened debates about fieldwork, but more particularly about relationships between researchers and interlocutors. In short, the history of CEE in Latin America reveals a marked development of collaboration, from being enacted but not made explicit in the written ethnographic report to open, explicit, and declared participation of nonacademic collaborators of all sorts: teachers, children, youngsters, indigenous communities, and so on. The work of these collaborative teams not only differs in ways and degrees of research involvement (co-interpreting, co-investigating, co-authoring, and co-theorizing) but also in what a dialogic and sometimes contested research process entails in terms of knowledge production for counteracting Eurocentric, androcentric, adult-centric prejudices. Teachers’ participation, children/youngsters as active collaborators, and language as a topic of research and as a research tool are three main themes. The stance of the researcher in CEE inevitably connects with his or her interlocutors as situated others—subjects with agency and rights and capable of involving the researcher in a joint process of reflexivity. Moreover, collaborative experiences in educational ethnography create new and feasible possibilities for the development of knowledge not only in education but also in research approaches to ethnography.
Qualitative Research on Educational Technology in Latin America
Vani Moreira Kenski and Gilberto Lacerda Santos
Important changes have taken place in the field of educational technology over the last few decades due to leaps in informatics, the explosive growth of the use of computers in schools, and the popularization of the Internet as a tool for teaching and learning. This scenario demands a broader understanding of the educational potential of new resources and didactic materials available to schools and innovative modes of individual and collective action in an increasingly digital society. Such changes have been faster since the start of the 21st century, which saw increased interest in educational technologies and many researchers orienting their studies to the modus operandi of the process of teaching and learning mediated by various types of digital technologies, be they presential, non-presential, hybrid, mobile, collaborative, cooperative, interactive, individualized, assistive, active, ubiquitous, and so on. With this, research in the field of educational technology has been consolidated and has begun to adopt methods of qualitative research that take account of this diversity of objects. This article seeks to point out the contributions of qualitative research methodologies in the formatting of this field of knowledge in Latin America. This is based on an examination of the most widely used scientific journals in the region, drawing on almost 100 articles published between 2016 and 2017. The analysis indicates that educational technology is evolving in Latin America, mainly due to the continuous and accelerated advance of digital information, communication, and expression technologies (DICETs). At the same time, there remains a great lack of scientific journals in the area, an issue that must be addressed given the strategic importance of this field of knowledge for the universalization of education in Latin America. Peer-reviewed journals have prioritized studies based on research and development (R&D) methods that emphasize media engineering for education and have a predominance of case studies. But they also present research problems related to qualitative issues that arise from the use of DICETs in specific teaching and learning situations. The scenario under analysis shows that research in this area has gradually evolved from a strongly technical perspective to a humanist one through qualitative analyses focusing on the limits and possibilities of DICETs. Thus, they raise important clues for future research, such as the challenges of adopting collaborative and interdisciplinary research approaches aimed at better understanding the processes and educational relations mediated by technologies; the new possibilities of hybrid education that can be addressed in different school contexts; and the question of teacher training for this new scenario. Such developments are crucial for advancing knowledge about educational technology in Latin America.
Qualitative Research in Indigenous Education in Mexico
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.
Implications of Queer Theory for Qualitative Research
Queer theory is a tool that can be used to reconsider sociopolitical, historical, and cultural norms and values. Similarly, in qualitative research, queer theory tends to analyze the narratives of LGBTQ+ people and groups in ways that seek to queer everyday experiences. Both the theoretical framework and the narratives collected and analyzed in qualitative research are significant to unpacking business-as-usual in and across sociocultural contexts. This is especially true for systems of schooling, whereby LGBTQ+ people and groups are marginalized through schooling and schools, a process of exclusion that is detrimental to queer youth who are learning in spaces and places specifically designed against their ways of being and knowing. The significance of qualitative research as it meets the framework of queer theory is that it offers a practically and institutionally queered set of voices, perspectives, and understandings with which to think about the everyday in schools. This becomes increasingly important as schooling has historically been a place in which LGBTQ+ students and groups have resided at an intersection, where the sociopolitical and cultural marginalization that keeps the status quo in place crosses with contemporary values that both interrupt and reify such histories.
Practice-Focused Research in Initial Teacher Education
Jane Abbiss and Eline Vanassche
A review of the field of practice-focused research in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) reveals four broad genres of qualitative research: case studies of teacher education programs and developments; research into student teacher experience and learning; inquiry into teacher educators’ own learning, identity, and beliefs; and conceptual or theory-building research. This is an eclectic field that is defined by variation in methodologies rather than by a few clearly identifiable research approaches. What practice-focused research in ITE has in common, though, is a desire on the behalf of teacher educator researchers to understand the complexity of teacher education and contribute to shifts in practice, for the benefit of student teachers and, ultimately, for learners in schools and early childhood education. In this endeavor, teacher educator researchers are presented with a challenge to achieve a balance between goals of local relevance and making a theoretical contribution to the broader field. This is a persistent tension. Notwithstanding the capacity for practice-focused research to achieve a stronger balance and greater relevance beyond the local, key contributions of practice-focused research in ITE include: highlighting the importance of context, questioning what might be understood by “improvement” in teacher education and schooling, and pushing back against research power structures that undervalue practice-focused research. Drawing on a painting metaphor, each genre represents a collection of sketches of practice-focused research in ITE that together provide the viewer with an overview of the field. However, these genres are not mutually exclusive categories as any particular research study (or sketch) might be placed within one or more groupings; for example, inquiry into teacher educators’ own learning often also includes attention to student teachers’ experiences and case studies of teacher education initiatives inevitably draw on theory to frame the research and make sense of findings. Also, overviewing the field and identifying relevant research is not as simple as it might first appear, given challenges in identifying research undertaken by teacher educators, differences in the positioning of teacher educators within different educational systems, and privileging of American (US) views of teacher education in published research, which was counteracted in a small way in this review by explicitly including voices located outside this dominant setting. Examples of different types of qualitative research projects illustrate issues in teacher education that matter to teacher educator researchers globally and locally and how they have sought to use a variety of methodologies to understand them. The examples also show how teacher educators themselves define what is important in teacher education research, often through small-scale studies of context-specific teacher education problems and practices, and how there is value in “smaller story” research that supports understanding of both universals and particularities along with the grand narratives of teacher education.
Ethnographic Inquiry in Teacher Education
José Ignacio Rivas-Flores
Teaching’s purpose is to build a society’s knowledge and skills through a group of students using a curricular proposal within a social and institutional framework. It therefore takes place in institutions specifically created for this purpose, which, as such, represents a culturally constructed environment that is in line with the conditions of the society in which this process unfolds. Thus professional cultures have been historically constructed according to the working conditions, the teaching experiences transmitted from generation to generation, and the evolution of the educational systems. In addition, institutional cultures are developed according to the particular history of each school. Student cultures also form as social groups within these institutions. This represents a complex system that goes beyond mere instruction by curriculum. Preparing the professionals who will go on to work in these institutions requires an understanding of these cultural frameworks and the competence to be able to act on them. Ethnographic research promotes an understanding of educational reality from a critical reflective perspective, and this is only possible if researchers themselves participate in those frameworks. Ethnography can be understood as a shared construction of places for reflection, aimed at comprehending the cultural, social, and political phenomena that involve participants in the processes of change and transformation. Teacher preparation must, therefore, be established with an ethnographic approach, which reconstructs the school experience from a critical reflective perspective. In this way, the conditions for developing a professional identity based on the reconstruction of this experience are created. The theories, in this case, offer the opportunity to pursue this critical dialogue, breaking away from the prescriptive role that they adopt from a positivist perspective. Ethnography contributes to the tasks through three basic dimensions. First, teacher preparation throughout is an object of educational inquiry: there are many research studies of an ethnographic nature that report teacher training methods in an attempt to understand the processes taking place. Second, ethnographies are a tool for preparing future teachers: in this case, this refers to a curricular use of ethnography aimed at future teachers’ understanding of the educational processes through research. Third is a way of understanding learning—in other words, ethnographic attitude as a learning strategy and the use of ethnographic inquiry strategies and tools as means of learning about educational processes. This last case generally entails staying and acting in schools, and it is what most clearly links research and teaching in a shared process.
Black Feminist Thought and Qualitative Research in Education
Kristal Moore Clemons
Black feminist thought and qualitative research in education is guided by a particular understanding of the learning strategies informed by Black women’s historical experiences with race, gender, and class. Scholars of Black feminist thought remind us of a Black feminist pedagogy that fosters a mindset of intellectual inclusion. Black feminist thought challenges Western intellectual traditions of exclusivity and chauvinism. This article presents a synopsis of the nature and scope of Black feminist thought and qualitative research in education. Further, this article highlights the work of scholars who describe the importance of an Afrocentric methodological approach in the field of education because it offers scholars and practitioners a methodological opportunity to promote equality and multiple perspectives.
Critical Qualitative Research and Educational Policy
Madeline Good and Sarah Diem
Critical qualitative research is full of possibilities and explorations that can assist in transforming systems for social change and the public good. It is an approach to research that at its core is concerned with the role of power; how it manifests in systems, structures, policies, and practice; and how contexts can contribute to and reify power and its deleterious effects. The use of critical qualitative methods and methodologies within the field of education has grown significantly since the 1990s. This is a large area of work that encompasses studies throughout the spectrum of educational topics, from early childhood learning to higher education and beyond. In the area of educational policy, while scholars use a multitude of critical qualitative methodologies and methods, critical policy analysis (CPA) has continued to grow in popularity. CPA provides opportunities for researchers to question policy in general––how it is formed, implemented, and evaluated, as well as its assumed impact. It is appealing because it gives space for scholars to not only critique educational policy issues but also offer new perspectives, approaches, and alternatives to the policy process. Critical inquiry, however, does not occur within a vacuum, so the dynamics of conducting critical qualitative research within a hyperpolarized sociopolitical context must also be considered. Contentious times make it increasingly important for critical qualitative scholars to (re)commit to the work of transforming education with the goal of creating a more just society. There are a multitude of hopes and opportunities for this burgeoning area of critical research, challenging us all to not only look toward creative approaches when studying issues of educational policy but also to persistently interrogate how our own positionalities and relations impact the work we do.
The term “interculturality” acknowledges the complexity of locations, identities, and modes of expression in a global world and the desire to raise awareness, foster intercultural dialogue, and facilitate understanding across and between cultures. Intercultural arts is a critical component of interculturality. One of many global educational imperatives is to further understanding and engage critically in what constitutes intercultural arts. Intercultural arts practitioners and researchers play a significant role in this undertaking. A close examination of intercultural arts work and encounters unravels complex relationships among arts disciplines and ways to conceptualize and understand intercultural arts travels. Intercultural arts research sheds new insights into shared cultural and intercultural futures that need to be reimagined and co-created with a sense of ethical obligations, exploration, openness, and reflexivity. This leads to embracing a multiperspective worldview that addresses and celebrates the embodied nature of intercultural arts practices across global contexts: a worldview that is continually constructed, dynamic, and fluid, existing both within and between locations, and that connotes a particular type of ethical educational space. The study of interculturality in today’s society in general, and in actual intercultural arts practice in particular, is indispensable. For educators who want to engage in researching their professional practice in the “field” of intercultural arts, “field” is a useful agricultural metaphor for the various processes and tools used in researching intercultural arts practice. Social researchers talk, for example, about “entering the field” and “gathering” data as if venturing into the world to harvest material for processing (analysis) before its eventual distribution and consumption by a society hungrily seeking new information to build up its body of knowledge and increase its capacity for growth and improvement. However, for education practitioners researching their own professional practice, and their journey into and focus on “intercultural arts,” it will feel much more fluid and uncertain than being on dry land, and it will require them to locate and address the overlap of practice and ethical agendas in educational research.
Eileen S. Johnson
Action research has become a common practice among educational administrators. The term “action research” was first coined by Kurt Lewin in the 1930s, although teachers and school administrators have long engaged in the process described by and formally named by Lewin. Alternatively known as practitioner research, self-study, action science, site-based inquiry, emancipatory praxis, etc., action research is essentially a collaborative, democratic, and participatory approach to systematic inquiry into a problem of practice within a local context. Action research has become prevalent in many fields and disciplines, including education, health sciences, nursing, social work, and anthropology. This prevalence can be understood in the way action research lends itself to action-based inquiry, participation, collaboration, and the development of solutions to problems of everyday practice in local contexts. In particular, action research has become commonplace in educational administration preparation programs due to its alignment and natural fit with the nature of education and the decision making and action planning necessary within local school contexts. Although there is not one prescribed way to engage in action research, and there are multiple approaches to action research, it generally follows a systematic and cyclical pattern of reflection, planning, action, observation, and data collection, evaluation that then repeats in an iterative and ongoing manner. The goal of action research is not to add to a general body of knowledge but, rather, to inform local practice, engage in professional learning, build a community practice, solve a problem or understand a process or phenomenon within a particular context, or empower participants to generate self-knowledge.
Critical Perspectives on Evaluative Research on Educational Technology Policies in Latin America
In the past decade, ambitious plans for digital inclusion have been developed in Latin America. These plans included a strategy of massive and universal distribution of equipment at a 1:1 ratio to students at different levels of the education system (i.e., a computer for each student). The programs were accompanied by both policy analyses and independent studies hoping to account for the program’s successes and achievements. These studies can facilitate analysis of the orientations and dimensions of these investigations, considering them as practices of knowledge production that imply the construction of a perspective, as well as indicators and problems that make visible certain some aspects of policy and mask others. They constitute forms of problematizing the social, that is to say, the construction of themes or topics that return to a problem that requires attention, which many times are taken as a reflection of reality and not as the product of an predetermined evaluative perspective. It is also significant that among these evaluative studies, a number were conducted through qualitative perspectives, which facilitate more complex and plural approaches to the processes of technological integration and digital inclusion within the classroom. In these qualitative studies, the construction of categories was part of the research and covered a multiplicity of meanings that the policies took for the actors involved, thus opening a richer and potentially more democratic perspective on the construction of knowledge about educational policy in the region.
Philosophical Tenets of Action Research in Education
Luis Sebastián Villacañas de Castro and Darío Luis Banegas
The juxtaposition of action and research conveys a sense of the richness and complexity of action research, yet it does not entirely translate its nuanced and sophisticated philosophy. In turn, an understanding of this philosophy is crucial for grasping action research’s radical originality. In this context at least, it may be more accurate to define action research by drawing on the term practice, even though it does not form part of the basic conceptual pair. Not only does practice make it easier for us to trace the constellation of philosophical influences behind the theory and practice of action research—from pragmatism to postmodernism, including Greek philosophy and Marxist and psychoanalytic schools of thought—but also to identify where these influences end and action research emerges as the bearer of a nontransferable view. Beyond this, at the heart of action research lies a structural affinity with singular social practices, which are its key ontological sites—that is, the context where action research in each case fills its epistemological and ethical dimensions with meaning. What kind of knowledge does action research aim to produce? What behaviors do action researchers engage in? Compared to other research paradigms in the social sciences—the field of education included—the specific quality of action research has to do with how its epistemological and ethical dimensions are shaped not from without but from within any given social practice. This is the key to its specific ecology. In action research, the epistemological and ethical realms do not stand beyond or above the situated social practices, with their values, principles of procedure, knowledges, and discourses, including their own literacies and modalities—in short, their own internal cultures. Action research conceives and presents itself as a rational and systematic way for members of the different social practices to build and rebuild their own epistemologies and ethics precisely by drawing on, and selecting from, their own internal cultures. How does this ecological perspective translate itself in education? Education is one of the key areas in which action research is generally applied, together with welfare and healthcare. Yet apart from the specific use of action research by educators, action research carries within itself a specific educational philosophy (and a political philosophy as well) which underlies its application, regardless of the specific social practice in which it takes place. In the same way that action research is politically democratic, educationally speaking action research is participatory, meaning that learning, improvement, or development can only be realized through a self-determining process in which people act and research freely upon and among themselves. This is precisely what action research facilitates in the different social practices. Action research is always educational, whether one develops it in education, welfare, or healthcare. As a result, action research has contributed a clear-cut pedagogical model that some critical educators have already imported to their own educational institutions and practices: youth participatory action research.
Roles of (Educational) Philosophy in Educational Research
Nina Bonderup Dohn
What roles can (educational) philosophy have within educational research? This question concerns the ways in which one can do philosophy as philosophy, not as something else with inspiration or data from philosophy. Further, it concerns doing philosophy within the field of educational research, that is, with the deliberate intention of engaging with educational research. The question is not how to do “philosophy of” education as a separate, outside reflection on the domain of education; instead, what is at stake is delineating the forms of cooperation that philosophy can engage in with educational research on matters of common interest. This question raises the further question of what kind of endeavor philosophy is in comparison with other kinds of investigations. A traditional answer to this question has been the claim that philosophizing consists of conceptual analysis and that philosophical analyses are a priori, providing the conceptual framework for a posteriori empirical investigations. There are several problems with the clear-cut distinction between a priori and a posteriori, but it can be made sense of if understood in a more relative sense rather than as designating absolute categories. Four different views on what philosophy is as regards other kinds of investigations are delineated, and it is pointed out which role each view correspondingly ascribes to philosophy in its cooperation with empirical educational research. The four roles are philosophy as (a) provider of a priori conceptual analyses, (b) clarifier of educational research concepts and their implications, (c) interpreter of educational research results, and (d) dialogue partner with a voice of its own. The first view of philosophy is the educational variant of the traditional view that philosophy is “queen of the sciences,” acting as conceptual legislator on what it makes sense to say. Philosophy does the conceptual groundwork a priori, as a prerequisite for empirical study and practice implementation, and research and practice then a posteriori investigate the phenomenon delimited by philosophy. Philosophers often take on this role in practice through what they write: they provide analyses of concepts that are significant within educational research, such as “knowledge,” “learning,” “value,” “Bildung,” or “becoming,” and explications of the relationships of these concepts to one another or to other concepts. The second view of philosophy is the educational variant of the opposing traditional designation of philosophy as “handmaiden to the sciences.” Here, philosophy takes a posteriori state-of-the-art educational research as its premise and outset and provides help in clarifying a priori conceptual issues within these a posteriori bounds. The third view of philosophy also takes a posteriori state-of-the-art educational research as its outset but does not content itself with being a helper. Instead, philosophy’s role is to assist educational research in interpreting its results by engaging philosophical methods. In addition to conceptual analysis, this can involve, for example, phenomenological, hermeneutical, and critical-theory analyses. Both a priori and a posteriori philosophical investigations can be undertaken in intertwinement within the a posteriori bounds. The fourth view of philosophy sees the relationship between philosophy and empirical research as symmetrical. Each party can question, challenge, support, inspire, and develop the claims set forth by the other. In this view, philosophy and empirical research within education are concerned with the same subject matter, namely, the actual empirical phenomena of education, such as human knowledge and learning; educational practice; and design of education, curricula, and activities. The research aims of philosophy and empirical research do not coincide, however: Philosophy pursues normative and foundational questions that transcend empirical accounts, and engages intertwined a priori and a posteriori investigations, whereas the various strands of empirical research investigate empirical phenomena in much greater detail.
Attitudes and Inclusion of Students with Special Educational Needs in Regular Schools
Elias Avramidis and Anastasia Toulia
There has been a proliferation of studies examining attitudes toward the inclusion of students with special educational needs (SEN) in regular education settings. Most studies to date have focused on examining the attitudes regular teachers hold toward inclusion on the assumption that their acceptance of the policy of inclusion is likely to affect their commitment to implementing it. Other researchers have directed their attention to the attitudes held by typically developing children toward their peers with SEN and, to a lesser extent, to the attitudes of parents toward the inclusion of students with SEN in their children’s classroom. Teachers have been found to generally hold positive attitudes toward the notion of inclusion, which are largely affected by the severity of the child’s disability, the level of in-service training received, the degree of prior teaching experience with students with SEN, and other environment-related factors. Typically developing students have been found to hold neutral attitudes toward their peers with SEN. Age, prior experience of studying in inclusive settings, and parental influence seem to influence their attitudes. Studies on parents’ attitudes have revealed neutral-to-positive attitudes toward the general notion of inclusion. Several factors were found to influence parental attitudes, such as their socio-economic status and education level along with their child’s type of disability. Most attitudinal research to date has described static situations through the employment of single methodological research designs. Consequently, there is a need for mixed-method studies that employ coherent and, wherever possible, longitudinal research designs.