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Interdisciplinary methods for researching teaching and learning

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This set of slides has been prepared for a workshop “Interdisciplinary methods for researching teaching and learning”. It summarises some ideas about intellectual work across conventional (disciplinary) boundaries in education. A number of them draw on the experiences writing Epistemic fluency book and working in the field of the leaning sciences more generally. The main message is the paradoxical tension between what educational research is as practice and how educational research is organised and institutionalised as a formal research field (aka. discipline).

Research-as-science, ….as disciplined inquiry
1. Finite cluster of social sciences: psychology, sociology, etc
2. Loose groupings: curriculum, professional development, etc
3. Discipline(s) on its own right: the learning sciences, other institutionalised practices

Research-as-project …as activity in the world
1. “Normal” science-as-project: compact vs. diffuse; explanatory vs. interpretative; conceptually driven vs. textually driven; explicit vs. implicit.
2. Researcher-participant collaboration
3. Multi-, Inter-, Trans-tribal research

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Interdisciplinary methods for researching teaching and learning

  1. 1. The University of Sydney Page 1 Interdisciplinary methods for researching teaching and learning Workshop Lina Markauskaitė 24 November 2016 @ University of Stirling
  2. 2. The University of Sydney Page 2 Background
  3. 3. The University of Sydney Page 3 My 2 (out of 5) “modes” of making interdisciplinarity
  4. 4. The University of Sydney Page 4 Interdisciplinarity: ‘hot’ but not ‘new’ Origins – Circa1920 – US Social Science Research Council – A bureaucratic shorthand to refer to all SRC’s societies
  5. 5. The University of Sydney Page 5 Two images of interdisciplinary: Bright From Frank, 1988, p. 146
  6. 6. The University of Sydney Page 6
  7. 7. The University of Sydney Page 7 What do we mean by it? From Frank, 1988, p. 143
  8. 8. The University of Sydney Page 8 Interdisciplinarities… Multidisciplinarity Within disciplines Close disciplines Complementing Methodological Instrumental ‘Single man’ science Cooperative Collocated Knowledge focussed Professional Transdisciplinarity Across disciplines Remote disciplines Hybridizing Theoretical Critical Team science Collaborative Remote Problem-focused Social Integration Scope Proximity Function Extent Sharing Nature Mode Role Distribution Space
  9. 9. The University of Sydney Page 9 Disciplines of education 1. Psychology 2. Sociology 3. Philosophy 4. History 5. Economics 6. Comparative ed 7. Geography 8. … Education as major “importer” from other disciplines http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v534/n7609/ful…
  10. 10. The University of Sydney Page 10 What is “within” and what is “across”? Education as an (interdisciplinary) field of study http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v534/n7609/ful…
  11. 11. The University of Sydney Page 11 Discipline as… …a set of shared dispositions about: a) Objects b) Evidence c) Methods d) Expertise Production of cumulative knowledge A dual mandate of “science”: • values intellectual agency • imposes constrains on knowledge development https://www.findaupair.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/kids-discipline
  12. 12. The University of Sydney Page 12 Educational research as… Research-as-science 1. Finite cluster of social sciences: psychology, sociology, etc 2. Loose groupings: curriculum, professional development, etc 3. Discipline(s) on its own right: the learning sciences, other institutionalised practices ….as disciplined inquiry Research-as-project 1. “Normal” science-as- project: diffuse, interpretative, textually driven, implicit 2. Researcher-participant collaboration 3. Multi-, Inter-, Trans-tribal research …as activity in the world MacDonald, 1994; Tolumin, 1972
  13. 13. The University of Sydney Page 13 Has educational research ever been mono- disciplinary? John Furlong, 2016 Nov 17
  14. 14. The University of Sydney Page 15 Your questions, comments, reflections… 1. How do you describe your “tradition”? 2. What is “inter-” in your project? Education Source: http://xkcd.com/435/
  15. 15. The University of Sydney Page 16 EXAMPLE 1: ‘Easy’ interdisciplinarity Following a tradition
  16. 16. The University of Sydney Page 17 From ISLS Vision 2009 Interdisciplinary tradition of the learning sciences
  17. 17. The University of Sydney Page 19 A view of learning Learning is distributed… …across people, and across tools and artifacts. Activity System …therefore, it is situated and, importantly, mediated. Research involves production of design artefacts – technology, models, principles, theories
  18. 18. The University of Sydney Page 20 Design-based research …a systematic but flexible methodology aimed to improve educational practices through iterative analysis, design, development, and implementation, based on collaboration among researchers and practitioners in real-world settings, and leading to contextually-sensitive design principles and theories. Wang & Hannafin, 2005, p. 6 …involves the creation of a theoretically-inspired innovation, usually a learning environment, to directly address a local problem. Barab, 2008, p. 155 Action research (Lab) experimen ts DBR
  19. 19. The University of Sydney Page 21 DBR: Main steps & characteristics 1. Grounded in theory and real-world settings 2. Addresses theory- building and practice innovation 3. Interactive, participatory 4. Iterative, flexible 5. Integrative (mixed methods) 6. Contextual 1 Exploration and development of “grounded models” 2 Development of artifacts 3 Feasibility/Field Study/ Definitive Test 4. Dissemination & Impact 5. Refinement Middleton et al, 2008
  20. 20. The University of Sydney Page 22 Example: Learning about climate systems – Learning complexity knowledge – “Productive failure” and analogical encoding – Developing concrete models, worksheets, etc – Trialing solutions in a classroom, refining Acknowledgement: ARC Linkage project with Michael Jacobson
  21. 21. The University of Sydney Page 23 DBR: Some challenges 1. Researcher-participant relationship and roles 2. Hawthorne effect 3. Reliability and validity 4. Capturing context and process 5. Managing, integrating and analyzing various, often ‘rich’, data formats Design & Refine Implement & Observe Analyze Design & Refine Implement & Observe Analyze
  22. 22. The University of Sydney Page 24 EXAMPLE 2: ‘Hard’ interdisciplinarity Working outside educational traditions
  23. 23. The University of Sydney Page 25 Some layers of social inquiry: and living between the “ends” What kind of conclusions will we be able to draw? Where do we focus? What kind of evidence do we collect? What things do we choose to notice? How do we know & research? What kinds of questions do we ask?ONTOLOGY EPISTEMOLOGY METHODOLOGY INSTRUMENTATION DATA ANALYTICAL TECHNIQUES Realism Positivism Nomothetic Segregation Numerical Statistical Nominalism Anti-positivist Ideographic Integration Qualitative Interpretative
  24. 24. The University of Sydney Page 26 “Descartes error” Post-positivism Critical (Discourse analysis) Participatory, Constructivist (Action research) Post-modernism New materialism Ecological perspectives Performative (Arts-based inquiry) Complexity Positivist Interpretativist (Interaction analysis, Phenomenology) Critical realism (Design based research) Feminism (Discourse analysis)
  25. 25. The University of Sydney Page 27 “Performative” science Ontology – Materialist – Phenomenological – Psychology of perception Epistemology – Performative: centrality of “raw” perception, skill, body and action – [Anthropology] is not a study of at all, but a study with. Anthropologists work and study with people. Immersed with them in an environment of joint activity, they learn to see things (or hear them, or touch them) <…> it educates our perception of the world, and opens our eyes and minds to other possibilities of being.” (Ingold, 2010, 238) Material ecology It is NOT an eclectic constellation of different ontologies, epistemologies and methodologies
  26. 26. The University of Sydney Page 28 Example: Studying “actionable knowledge” Ontology: realist, dynamic Axiology: internal-external Epistemology: manifold Human nature: grounded Methodology: interpretativeImmanuel Kant 1724-1804 Thomas S. Kuhn 1922-1996 David Hume 1711-1776 Manuel Delanda Lawrence Barsalou Stephen Toulmin 1922-2009 Atkinson & Shriffin Grounded cognition & manifold view of human conceptual understanding It is NOT an eclectic constellation
  27. 27. The University of Sydney Page 29 Research as “method” and Research as “craft” Design Data Analysis Findings Hypothesis Design Data Analysis Findings Hypothesis Design Data Analysis Hypothesis Data Analysis Analysis Analysis Hypothesis Findings Findings Findings Improvisation based on Patton (2011) Developmental evaluation
  28. 28. The University of Sydney Page 30 Traditional challenges Design Data Analysis Findings Hypothesis Design Data Analysis Hypothesis Data Analysis Analysis Analysis Hypothesis Findings Findings Findings Improvisation based on Patton (2011) Developmental evaluation 1. Lack of compact theoretical language 2. No ready methodological toolbox 3. Being outside “epistemic renting” culture 4. Creating cumulative knowledge
  29. 29. The University of Sydney Page 31 Your questions and comments 1. What are your main methodological challenges working in your “inter” spaces? Education Source: http://xkcd.com/435/
  30. 30. The University of Sydney Page 33 Interdisciplinary work requires epistemological awareness and... epistemic fluency Email: Lina.Marakauskaite@sydney.edu.au My final note

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