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Research paradigmsBroadly speaking the are two dominant views orparadigms over the nature of knowledge and how it isdeveloped (Epistemology).• Positivism (scientific method) and• Interpretivism.Note: They are often in warring camps.Some see these oppositions as false and detrimentalto research.
PARADIGMS OF SOCIAL RESEARCH POSITIVIST INTERPRETIVEMIXED METHODS POST-POSITIVIST POST- POST-MODERNISTSTRUCTURALIST COMPLEXITY THEORY Cohen et al, 2011
PositivismPositivism is a philosophy states that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge, and that such knowledge can only come from positive affirmation of theories through strict scientific method.
POSITIVISM Positivism refers to the school of thought that the only „true‟ or valid form of knowledge is that which is „scientific‟. The principles and methods of the natural sciences (such as chemistry or physics) are used to study human behaviour, which in itself is objective and tangible in nature. The researcher can observe human behaviour and measure „facts‟, and „laws‟ or theories of behaviour can be developed. Concepts such as feelings, emotions, beliefs and so on have no place in research as they cannot be directly observed or measured, they are unreliable and they are not constant over time.
POSITIVISM- cont Positivists attempt to mirror the methods of the natural and physical scientists. Through observing reality you can produce laws of the social world which can be generalised from one context to another Your role is to be an objective analyst, collecting data and interpreting it in a value free way. You are detached, neither affect nor are affected by the subject of your research. Emphasise the quantifiable, the observable, and replication (the ability to repeat research)
InterpretivismInterpretivism, is a way to gain insights through discovering meanings by improving our comprehension of the whole. Qualitative research explores the richness, depth, and complexity of phenomena.
Interpretivism emphasises - That the world is too complex to be reduced to a series of law-like generalisations. the uniqueness of people, and circumstances and the constant nature of change. details matter - in an attempt to better understand reality. subjective reality matters.
Features of research paradigms Positivistic paradigm Interpretivist paradigmWorld is external and objective World is socially constructed and subjectiveObserver is independent Observer is part of what is being observedScience is value free Science is driven by human interestsLook for causality Understand what is happeningReduce phenomena to simple elements Look at totality of each situationFocus on facts Focus on meaningGeneralises from sample to population Generalises from one setting to anotherTends to produce quantitative data Tends to produce qualitative dataThe location is artificial The location is naturalConcerned with hypothesis testing Concerned with generating theories Easterby Smit, et al, 2004
Criticism – Positivist research Reduces nature and life into measureable terms and ignore notions of individuality, freedom, and moral responsibility Fails to take into account our unique ability to interpret the world Regards human behaviour as passive, and control Findings are general not related to the real word as research is conducted in control conditions
Criticism - Interpretivist research Abandons the scientific procedures of verification and generalisation Overlooks fact that the very process of observation and interpretation that researchers engage in is it self a product of the circumstances Focus too narrowly on specific instances and cases
Post positivist research Research is broad rather than specialised – lots of different things qualify as research; Theory and practice cannot be kept separate. We cannot afford to ignore theory for the sake of ‘just the facts’; The researcher’s motivations for and commitment to research are central and crucial to the enterprise The idea that research is concerned only with correct techniques for collecting and categorising information is now inadequate Ryan, n.d.
Positivist and Interpretivist Research How does all this link to the practice of research in education? Paradigm Research MethodologyYour belief system Your research approach Positivist Quantitative Interpretivist Qualitative
Positivist research Research which combines a deductive approach with precise measurement of quantitative data to enable the discovery and confirmation of causal laws
Interpretivist research Research which combines an inductive approach with communication and observation of qualitative data to discover the reasons for events.
Deductive vs InductiveDeductive - begins with an abstract idea and principle and works toward the concrete details to test these ideas. Theory TestingInductive - begins with concrete details and then works toward abstract ideas or general principles or laws. Theory Building
REASONING: INDUCTIVE Start with EXAMPLES/OBSERVATION and conclude a theory/IDEA Moving from specific observations, looking for pattern & regularities, formulate some possible hypothesis (explanations) and end up with broader generalisations “Bottom-up approach Theory Tentative Explanation Identify PatternObservation http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/dedind.php
REASONING DEDUCTIVE Start with THEORY/IDEA and apply it to EXAMPLES Moving from THEORY, then narrow it down to specific HYPOTHESIS (proposed explanation), collect OBSERVATIONS to address the hypothesis. APPLY the knowledge to EXAMPLES ”top-down” approachTheory Possible Explanations Observation Confirmation/ examples http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/dedind.php
Why does the approach matter? Whether you take a scientific (positivistic) or phenomenological approach will influence: What research questions you ask What methods you use to collect your data What type of data you collect What techniques you use to analyse your data
MethodsRefers to techniques used in research Survey questionnaires Interviews Observations Document reviews Experiments
Methodology refers to more than a simple set of methods refers to the rationale and the philosophical assumptions that underlie a particular study. Examples Quantitative Qualitative Mixed methods
Research Design refers to the blue print that you prepare to conduct your research It lists the steps that you need to take. tells what is to be done at what time. tells how the goals of a research project can be accomplished. Key features of any research design include the methodology and methods sampling, data collection and analysis, procedures and instruments etc.
The Philosophical Position…. Positivism Phenomenology Reality is objective and Reality is subjectiveOntology: what is the singular, apart from the and multiple as seen nature of reality? researcher by the participants Epistemology: Researcher is independent Researcher interacts What is valid from that being researched with that being researched knowledge? Axiology: Value free and un-biased Value-laden and biased Role of values • Cross-sectional studies • Action Research RESEARCH • Experimental studies • Case Studies STRATEGY • Longitudinal studies • Ethnography • Surveys • Grounded Theory • Etc... • Hermeneutics, etc...
What is a Theory?A set of statements or principles devised to explain some phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about the phenomena. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/theory