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The Relevance of Deweyan Inquiry to Teaching Social Science Research Methods. Shane J. Ralston, Ph.D. Penn State University-Hazleton Penn State University-World Campus. Organization of the Paper. Teaching Social Science Research Methods Why Deweyan Inquiry is Relevant

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the relevance of deweyan inquiry to teaching social science research methods

The Relevance of Deweyan Inquiry to Teaching Social Science Research Methods

Shane J. Ralston, Ph.D.

Penn State University-Hazleton

Penn State University-World Campus

organization of the paper
Organization of the Paper
  • Teaching Social Science Research Methods
  • Why Deweyan Inquiry is Relevant
  • Dewey’s Empiricism, Not Scientism
  • Some Pedagogical Suggestions
  • Conclusion
teaching social science research methods
Teaching Social Science Research Methods
  • Focus on explanatory and predictive research
  • Kinds of questions, conceptual frameworks, methods/techniques, statistical approaches
  • Pattern of Social Scientific Inquiry
    • Problem Definition
    • Hypothesis Construction
    • Research Design
    • Measurement
    • Data Collection
    • Data Analysis
    • Generalization
why deweyan inquiry is relevant
Why Deweyan Inquiry is Relevant
  • Not specific to formal empirical research, but generally applicable to political/administrative practice (Poli Sci MA or MPA program)
  • Dewey’s How We Think (1910/1933)
  • Dewey’s Logic: The Theory of Inquiry (1938)
    • A Felt Difficulty or Indeterminate Situation
    • Locating and Defining the Problem
    • A Suggested Solution
    • Refining the Suggestion
    • Testing the Suggestion
deweyan inquiry vs social scientific inquiry
Felt Difficulty

Problem Location and Definition

Suggestion of a Possible Solution

Refine the Suggestion

Test Suggestion

3. Suggesting a solution

4. Refining the suggestion

Secondary, reflective experience

2. Specifying the problem

5. Testing the suggestion

1. Indeterminate situation

Primary, non-reflective experience

Settled situation/

Warranted assertion

Deweyan Inquiry vs. Social Scientific Inquiry

Problem Definition

Hypothesis Definition

Research Design

Measurement

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Generalization

dewey s empiricism not scientism
Dewey’s Empiricism, Not Scientism
  • Dewey, “Philosophy’s Future in Our Scientific Age”:
    • “What is needed is not the carrying over of procedures that have approved themselves in physical science, but new methods as adapted to human issues and problems, as methods already in scientific use have shown themselves to be in physical subject-matter”
  • Dewey, Logic:
    • “The difference between physical and social inquiry does not reside in the presence or absence of an end-in-view [i.e., an intermediary goal], formulated in terms of possible consequences. It consists in the respective subject-matters of the purposes. The difference makes a great practical difference in the conduct of inquiry: a difference in the kinds of operations to be performed in instituting the subject-matters that in their respective interactions will resolve a situation”
some pedagogical suggestions
Some Pedagogical Suggestions
  • Felt Difficulty and Doubt
  • The Notebook Method
  • Conceptual Framework
    • Theories as tools
    • Better way to distinguish conceptual/operational definitions
    • Add exploratory, descriptive and understanding research
  • Fact-Value Continuum
conclusion
Conclusion
  • Familiar student objection: “What difference does social science research make for political practice?”
  • Flyvbjerg’s distinction between phronetic and epistemic inquirer
  • Building a pragmatic bridge across the research/practice divide