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Paradigms of Educational Research: Multiple Ways of Knowing. What is Paradigm? hat is Paradigm? Webster’s Par-a- digm [< Gr. Para- beside = deigma , example] example or model; an example of a declension or conjugation Roget’s Example

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Paradigms of educational research multiple ways of knowing

Paradigms of Educational Research: Multiple Ways of Knowing

What is Paradigm?

hat is Paradigm?

  • Webster’s

    Par-a-digm [< Gr. Para- beside = deigma, example]

    example or model; an example of a declension or conjugation

  • Roget’s


    archetype, beau ideal, chart, criterion, ensample, exemplar, ideal, mirror,

    model, original, pattern, prototype, sample, standard

  • Dictionary of Sociology

    Any example or representative instance of a coherent or theoretical approach,

    for example, Merton’s (1949) summary exemplifying discussion of the strengths

    and pitfalls of functional analysis in sociology. In some branches of philosophy

    a “paradigm case” is seen as providing an “ostensive definition” of a concept.

  • Dictionary of Philosophy

    Term most often associated with its usage in T.S. Kuhn’s The Structure of

    Scientific Revolutions (1962) to refer to constellations of “law, theory,

    application and instrumentation” which, taken together, “provide models from

    which spring particular coherent traditions of scientific research,” e.g., Ptolemaic

    astronomy, Newtonian mechanics.

  • Paradigms undergo historical changes, as in the shift from Newtonian to Quantum

  • mechanics. Exact mechanism of paradigm transformation in the history of science, or

  • more generally of “conceptual change” and the growth of knowledge, has emerged as a

  • subject of contention in a major philosophical debate between Kuhn, Popper, Toulmin,

  • Will, and others

Paradigm Pyramid






belief system

way of viewing reality

way of seeing the world

intellectual infrastructure

way of looking at the world

archetype * beau ideal * chart

criterion * ensample * ideal * mirror

original * pattern * prototype * sample

standard * change * worldview * mind set

philosophy * foundation * idea * method * concept *

assumption * conceptual change* exemplary framework *

set of values * growth of knowledge * representative instance metaphorical spectacles * shift in one’s thinking * constellations of law, theory, application & instrumentation * entire system of education

Epistemology. Philosophy of Science.

Key Vocabulary and Definitions

Philosophy <Gr.: phileo (love) + sophia (wisdom)>

Like philosophy, research begins in wonder...

Branches of Philosophy

  • Metaphysics: study of nature of [ultimate] reality/existence. What is real? What is self? Cosmology: studies the nature of the universe;

  • Ontology: studies the nature of being/ self

  • Epistemology: theory of knowing and knowledge & its limits. What can we know, and how? How do we know what we know? What are the ‘laws of thought’? Are there higher forms of knowledge?

    Logic is a subfield of epistemology; it studies rules and principles of reasoning

    Forms of logic: Inductive reasoning: making generalizations on the basis of specific propositions. Deductive reasoning: concluding something specific from something general (e.g. Syllogism)

  • Axiology: study of values, both in regulating human conduct (ethics) and in

  • determining beauty (aesthetics). Ethics attempts to prescribe what is good/bad and \what is right/wrong; aesthetics deals with values in the realm of beauty and arts

    Value conflict: “objective values” (universally valid) vs. “subjective values” (relative, depend on particular situation)

Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of science examines the methods used by science, the ways in

which hypotheses and laws are formulated from evidence, and the grounds

on which scientific claims about the world may be justified. Both philosophy

and science seek to understand the nature of the world and its structures.

Three general periods in Western philosophy of science:

  • Early Greek and Medieval thought: Systematic speculative philosophy and

  • theology. Deductive reasoning. Theory and perfection rather than observation:

  • Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Scotus, Ockham

  • The Newtonian worldview: Rise of modern science. Renewed value of

  • human reason. Challenge to religious or metaphysical doctrines. Observation

  • and experiment yield knowledge of the laws which govern the whole world.

  • Inductive reasoning: Bacon, Hume, Locke. Newton (1642-1727): the world is predictable; it represents a collection of particles of matter in

  • motion (laws of motion, gravitation, others); science will eventually explain

    • everything; humankind will have control over environment. The function of

    • philosophy changes from initiating theories to examining and commenting

    • on the methods and results of scientific method.

  • 20th century science: Einstein: theories of relativity (1905, 1916). E=mc2.

  • Time, space, matter and energy are related to one another (single continuum).

  • There are no fixed points. The way in which things relate to one another

  • depends upon the point from which they are being observed.

Philosophy of Science (continued)

  • Quantum mechanics:raised the question whether events at the sub-atomic

  • level could be predictable. The atom is divided into many constituent particles,

  • held together by forces. In the sub-atomic world, particles do not obey fixed

  • rules. Their individual movements, whilst statistically predictable, are uncertain.

  • Energy is seen to operate by the interchange of little packets or “quanta,”

  • rather than a continuous flow.

  • Living things: DNA—the world of biology is linked to that of chemistry and

  • of physics, since the instructions within the DNA molecule are able to

  • determine the form of a living being.

  • 21th century philosophyengages with a scientific world and

  • became dominated by the quest for meaning and language analysis.

    Nature of Knowledge

  • Innate

  • Experiential

  • Intuitive

    Sources of Knowledge

  • Perceptual

  • Memorial

  • Introspective

  • A priori

  • A posteriori

  • Inductive

  • Testimony-based

Paradigms as Major Systems of Inquiry

  • Empirical-analytic/ scientific (quantitative)

  • Has roots in natural sciences.

  • Positivism was part of this paradigm, but it cannot be equated with it

  • Pragmatic (as related to Pragmatism)

  • connects “scientific” and “interpretive”

  • Interpretive/ Interpretivist (qualitative)

  • Has roots in Existential-Phenomenology and Hermeneutics; also known as

  • naturalistic, humanistic, or constructivist

  • Critical (as related to Critical Theory)

  • It can be part of any research; it is most often allied with interpretive research

  • Postmodern, poststructuralist

  • Has roots in Critical research and postmodernism as a particular view on

  • reality and knowledge, identity, and the ways of their representation

Empirical-Analytic Paradigm

  • Historical developments: rationalism, empiricism, deductive & inductive reasoning;

  • analysis and synthesis of ideas; logical positivism. “Truth”: attempt to arrive at certainty,

  • objectivity; re-search for the truth with a capital letter “T.” Reliability & validity of findings

  • Quantitative data prevails over qualitative

    Origins of positivism

  • Analytical philosophy: method of analyzing language to clarify and establish its meaning; method of

  • empirical verification and classification of ordinary and scientific statements. In education, analytical

  • philosophy examines critically the language associated with teaching and learning, with the

  • formulation of educational goals and policies. Major representatives: G.E. Moore (1873-1958);

  • B. Russell (1872-1970); “Vienna Circle”: M. Schlick (1882-1936): scientific method is applied to

  • philosophical & educational issues; defines problems and analyzes errors in definitions and

  • formulations.

    Major assumptions of positivism

  • Language propositions are either logical (based on math) or empirical (based on observation &

  • experience).

  • Method of clarification: sentences are synthetically or analytically true or, if not, then they are

  • simply emotive personal preferences.

  • Analytical statement (a priori): true by definition; tautology e.g., 1+1=2; or 2=1+1

  • Synthetic are either true or false by verification empirically (a posteriori): e.g., “John weighs

  • 170 pounds.” Such statements as “The world is mind,” “God is love,” etc. are “nonsense.”

  • Most traditional philosophy is “nonsense,” based on pseudo-propositions

Pragmatism: A middle-ground paradigm?

  • Historical roots: C. S. Peirce (1839-1914); W. James (1842-1910);

  • John Dewey (1859-1952)

  • Peirce: Knowledge about objective reality resides in the idea we have of any

  • given object. Ideas are valued in terms of practical consequences, results, or

  • bearings on our actions. True knowledge of anything depends upon testing our

  • ideas in actual experience. Since reality is changeable, “truth’ found through

  • the application of scientific method is always with a small letter “t”

  • James: Truth is what “works” for us. Ideas are said to have “cash” value. Truth is not

  • always objective and verifiable; it is also found in concrete individuality. Truth is

  • inseparable from experience. In order to get at truth

  • Dewey: Ideas are instruments in the solution of real-life problems. This thought can

  • be expressed in five stages: (a) Felt difficulty that occurs because of a conflict in our

  • experience; Its location and definition, establishing the limits and characteristics of the

  • problem in precise terms; (b) Suggestions of possible solutions, formulating a wide range

  • of hypotheses; (c) Development by reasoning of the bearings of the suggestions,

  • reflecting on the possible outcomes of acting on these suggestions; (d) Further

  • observation and experiment leading to its acceptance or rejection, testing hypotheses

  • to see if they really yield the desired results

  • Knowingis experimental and follows method of scientific inquiry. Human intelligence

  • is an active social construct; it is used as an instrument to solve problems

  • Research: interdisciplinary; mixed data & mixed methods; Action and Practitioner

  • research; researchers are scholar-practitioners

Interpretive Paradigm:

Existential Phenomenology and Hermeneutics

  • Existentialism: philosophizing that emphasizes human subjectivity,

  • uniqueness & freedom of an individual against the herd, the crowd, or

  • mass society. All people are fully responsible for the meaning of their own

  • existence and creating of their own essence or self-definition.

    • Roots of Existentialism: Sören Kierkegaard (1813-1855);

    • Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

  • Leading Existentialist philosophers: Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980),

  • Karl Jaspers (1883-1969), Martin Heidegger (1889-1976),

  • Martin Buber (1878-1965), Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973), Paul Tillich (1886-1965)

  • Phenomenology is allied with Existentialism. It was developed as a

  • philosophical method by Edmund Husserl (1859-1938). Some philosophers

  • speak of one movement of thought, Existential Phenomenology.

  • Major representatives: M. Heidegger, J-P. Sartre, M. Merleau-Ponty, M.

  • Buber, P. Freire.

  • Hermeneutics: 19th-century philosophical perspective closely related to both

  • Existentialism and Phenomenology. The word Hermeneutics has origins in

  • Greek: “to interpret” (after Hermes, a messenger of Greek gods).

  • Hermeneutics developed a technique for interpreting texts (at first the Bible).

  • Major representatives: W. Dilthey, M. Heidegger, H-G. Gadamer, P. Ricoeur,

  • T. S. Kuhn.

  • Existentialist Themes

    • Sören Kierkegaard(Christian Existentialism): All truth is subjective.

    • Truth is the truth for me. I exist because I have a choice. A choice is a

    • pure “leap of faith” into the unknown. In religious faith we confront the

    • mystery of existence—its absurdity.

      Existential paradox—the human being’s experience of nothingness

      before God, which is at the same moment the complete fulfillment of human


    • Friedrich Nietzsche: Proclaimed the end of modern philosophy and

    • modern age in general. Art (aesthetics) is the highest form of human

    • expression. Art is the real expression of truth and falsehood. Philosophy

    • is not the pursuit of truth; it enhances power. There are weaker and stronger

    • specimens among us. Power must enable stronger ones to rise to a higher

    • plane & become Übermensch (“Superman”), who is both the man of the

    • future and also the unrealized potential in me. Since God is dead

    • (God=cultural phenomena of modernity), I myself must perfect the world.

    • I do this by transcending myself in the Superman. I must free myself from

    • all “weaknesses,” from Christian “slave” morality. In place of Christian

    • “slave” morality we should adopt Greek paganism with life-affirming

    • philosophy, rejecting the contrast between good and evil in favor of that

    • between good and bad—meaning good and bad specimen. The good man is

    • the one who is healthy, flourishing, and potent. The bad man is the one who is

    • diseased, enfeeble, impotent. Pride, courage, and will to power are the true values.

    Existentialist Themes (continued)

    • Jean-Paul Sartre: Existentialism as Humanism. Existence precedes essence:

    • each person first exists—comes “uninvited” into this world—and then creates

    • his or her own meaning/ purpose or essence. There are no universal truths,

    • values, or ultimate destiny. We are “condemned” to freedom. Freedom can be

    • agonizing because it entails responsibility. We can pretend that we are not free

    • (“bad faith”) when we don’t want to take responsibility. This falsifies our sense of self.

    • Martin Heidegger: (Existential Phenomenology & Hermeneutics): We inescapable

    • are involved in the world. We are born in it, educated in it, work in it, and die in it.

    • To be human means to interact with the world. Self is firmly situated within Dasein

    • (Being-in-the world).

      Anxiety (anguish) arises when our everyday life seems pointless. Existential

      anxiety reveals who I am—solitary, finite, free. It is a powerful experience and a source

      of creativity and growth. Neurotic anxiety may arise from suppressing existential anxiety

      It is pain and dissatisfaction that I feel when I limit myself and deny my real possibilities.

      Authentic existence encourages self-exploration.

      The essence of Dasein is Care (Sorge). When we live authentically we care for

      ourselves, others, and everything that we encounter in the world.

      Existentialism criticizes mass society and mass culture as depersonalizationof the

      individual that aggravates the feeling of alienation. At the root of the mass society is

      mass production, which creates mass housing, communications, media, and

      entertainment. Existentialism influenced experimental, informal, non-traditional

      schooling; humanistic psychology (Maslow, Allport, Rogers, May)

    Critical Paradigm of Research

    • Historical developments: materialism, Utopian thinkers, English political economy,

    • Hegel’s dialectics, Marxism, Neo-Marxism, humanitarianism

    • K. Marx (1818-1883):dialectics; historical materialism; economic determinism

    • (economic forces—means & modes of production and ownership—are the base of

    • society; other institutions [“superstructure”] depend on the economic base); capitalism

    • will be replaced by socialism and eventually communism—classless society of perfect

    • justice

    • Neo-Marxism: revision & revitalization of Marxism in the 20th century. Rejects

    • economic determinism; appropriates class struggle and historical inevitability.

    • “Class struggle” is being replaced with “conflict theory”

    • Cultural conflict: society and its institutions are the scenes of struggle between

    • contending groups for power prestige, and social dominance (“hegemony”).

    • Schools are also scenes of such struggle. They reflect dominant cultural values and

    • reproduce societal system of power and control. School mirrors class divisions of a

    • larger society

    • economic, but also cultural, political, social forces. Racial, ethnic, gender conflicts are

    • part of the cultural conflict in contemporary US society. “Hidden curriculum”

    • Critical researchis preoccupied with the questions of social justice, power relations,

    • educational policies and politics. Strands of critical inquiry include race theories,

    • feminism, queer theories, disability and equity studies, among others

    • Postmodern and poststructuralistinquiry is allied with critical research and

    • investigates similar issues through experimental and various modes of representation of

    • research findings that go beyond textural representation

    Critical Theory

    • Origins: Neo-Marxism (Frankfurt School): Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse,

    • Gramsci, J.Habermas; Paulo Freire’s liberation pedagogy; U.S. civil rights,

    • ecological, feminist, counterculture, gay & lesbian, anti-war movement

    • Central concepts: hegemony, social control, conflict theory, hidden

    • curriculum, empowerment

    • Power holders in society seek to impose their views of knowledge, schooling,

    • curriculum and teaching on those who lack economic and political power

    • Power holders control the corporate sector, dominate major political parties,

    • & shape the media’s messages; power currently resides in the highly complex

    • organizational form of multinational global corporations

    • Knowledge/text/language as socially constructed, historical, & power-related

    • phenomena that can and must be deconstructed

    • Educational institutions are seen as an arena of cultural politics and

    • conflict; they are historically conditioned, controlled, & used by economically,

    • socially, & politically dominant groups; they are political agencies that empower

    • some and disempower others