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Postgraduate research in Pacific education: Interpretivism and other trends


This article examines research by postgraduate students in education at the University of the South Pacific (USP) between 1968 and 2009. These experienced educators, who later return to their original education sector to influence policy and practice in some way, are producing new knowledge intimately connected to Pacific education systems. The article identifies broad trends in supervision, growth in completed degrees, research area, and national focus, and makes some comparisons with similar research in New Zealand. The article also focuses on how students position their research theoretically, using Lather’s research paradigm typology. The analysis indicates that many of these projects are positioned within an interpretivist paradigm, a few within positivist and emancipationist paradigms, and none at all within deconstructivist paradigms. The authors suggest that a Pacific education system underpinned by socially-critical theoretical perspectives, particularly deconstructive ones, can better respond to the twin challenges of creating universal and equitable access to education and arresting the loss of language, culture, identity, and life skills via rapid globalization.

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Correspondence to Greg Burnett.

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Note: The author wishes to thank Fiona Stuart, Assistant Research Fellow, University of Otago, for her assistance in proofreading this manuscript.

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Burnett, G., Lingam, G.I. Postgraduate research in Pacific education: Interpretivism and other trends. Prospects 42, 221–233 (2012).

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  • Interpretivism
  • Access to education
  • Equity
  • Cultural maintenance
  • Cultural identity
  • Pacific education
  • Research paradigms
  • Postgraduate education
  • Theoretical perspectives