Skip to main content

Traditions of Inquiry in Education: Engaging the Paradigms of Educational Research

Abstract

In this chapter I examine debates over the relative merits of qualitative and quantitative research in education from the perspective of Michael Oakeshott’s critique of rationalism in the study of human conduct. Contrary to the positivist view that causal explanation based on randomized experimentation is the highest standard of knowledge, I argue that when it comes to the study of human subjects, even statistical generalizations depend upon a prior form of qualitative understanding. The chapter concludes by considering some consequences of this perspective, which I call ‘transcendental pragmatism,’ for the practice of inquiry in education.

Keywords

  • Epistemology
  • Research methodology
  • Inquiry methods
  • Educational research paradigms
  • Transcendental Pragmatism

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-6809-3_2
  • Chapter length: 13 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   169.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-94-007-6809-3
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   219.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   219.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Notes

  1. 1.

    The National Research Council of the American Academy of Science offered a broader account of ‘rigorous science.’ It recognized the academic respectability of a variety of methodologies in educational research that included such qualitative disciplines such as educational anthropology (Feuer et al. 2002). However, a number of critics point out that this view does not veer very far from the narrow empiricist path (Eisenhart 2005; Erickson and Guiterrez 2002; Moss 2005; St. Pierre 2002).

  2. 2.

    Oakeshott was not especially rigorous about the way he uses such terms as ‘behavior’, ‘conduct’, ‘skills’ or ‘abilities’. He sometimes referred to a tradition of practice, for example, as a tradition of behavior, when by the idea of practice he clearly had in mind meaningful conduct not merely observable or unintelligent actions. Similarly, he describes skills as abilities of lesser complexity, and often uses the term complex abilities to denote more sophisticated capacities. To simplify, I use the term ‘behavior’ to denote activities that are less, and ‘conduct’ endeavors that are more, meaningful or intelligent. Similarly, I use ‘skills’ to denote less and ‘abilities’ more, complex capacities (Alexander 2008).

  3. 3.

    Marx and Engels were among our most incorrigible political rationalists in Oakeshott’s view. In reference to dialectical materialism he wrote that, “no other technique has so imposed itself upon the world as if it were concrete knowledge; none has created so vast an intellectual proletariat, with nothing but its technique to lose” (Oakeshott 1962, p. 26).

References

  • Alexander HA (1986) Cognitive relativism in evaluation. Eval Rev 10(3):259–280

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Alexander HA (1987) Is phenomenology the basis for qualitative inquiry? Philos Educ Proc 43:567–574

    Google Scholar 

  • Alexander HA (1989) Liberal education and open society: absolutism and relativism in curriculum theory. Curriculum Inq 19(1):11–32

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Alexander HA (2001) Reclaiming goodness: education and the spiritual quest. University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame

    Google Scholar 

  • Alexander HA (2003) Aesthetic inquiry in education: community, transcendence, and the meaning of pedagogy. J Aesthet Educ 37(2):1–18

    Google Scholar 

  • Alexander HA (2006) A view from somewhere: explaining in paradigms of educational research. J Philos Educ 40(2):205–221

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Alexander HA (2008) Engaging tradition: Michael Oakeshott on liberal learning. In: Stables A, Gough S (eds) Sustainability and security within liberal societies: learning to live with the future. Routledge, New York, pp 113–126

    Google Scholar 

  • Althusser L (1999) Writings on psychoanalysis. Columbia University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Aristotle (1994) Metaphysics (trans: Bostock D). Clarendon Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Bacon F (2002) The new organon (Jardine L and Silverthorne M (eds)). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Bernard HR (1995) Research methods in anthropology. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham

    Google Scholar 

  • Bodgan R, Bilken SK (2006) Qualitative research for education, 5th edn. Allyn & Bacon, Boston

    Google Scholar 

  • Bourdieu P (1990) The logic of practice (trans: Nice R). Polity Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Buber M (1970) I and thou (trans: Kaufman W). Scribners, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Callahan R (1964) Education and the cult of efficiency. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

    Google Scholar 

  • Campbell DT, Stanley J (1963) Experimental and quasi-experimental design for research. Rand McNally, Chicago

    Google Scholar 

  • Clandinin DJ, Connelly FM (2000) Narrative inquiry: experience and story in qualitative research. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco

    Google Scholar 

  • Comte A (1988) Introduction to positive philosophy. Hackett, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Descartes R (1999) Discourse on method (trans: Clark DM). Penguin, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Dewey J (1938) Logic: a theory of inquiry. Henry Holt, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Egan K (2004) Getting it wrong from the beginning: our progressivist inheritance from Herbert Spencer, John Dewey, and John Piaget. Yale University Press, New Haven

    Google Scholar 

  • Eisenhart M (2005) Hammers and saws for the improvement of educational research. Educ Theor 55(3):245–261

    Google Scholar 

  • Eisner EW (1991) The enlightened eye: qualitative inquiry and the enhancement of educational practice. Macmillan, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Erickson F, Guiterrez K (2002) Culture, rigor, and science in educational research. Educ Res 31(8):21–25

    Google Scholar 

  • Feuer MJ, Towne L, Shavelson RJ (2002) Scientific culture and educational research. Educ Res 31(8):4–14

    Google Scholar 

  • Foucault M (1982) The archeology of knowledge and discourse on language. Pantheon, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Foucault M (2001) The order of things: an archeology of the human sciences. Routledge, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Freire P (2005) Education for critical consciousness. Continuum, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Gadamer H-G (1975) Truth and method. Seabury Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Guba E (1978) Toward a methodology of naturalistic inquiry in education. UCLA Center for the Study of Evaluation, Los Angeles

    Google Scholar 

  • Guba E (1990) The alternative paradigm dialog. In: Guba E (ed) The paradigm dialog. Sage, Newbury Park, pp 17–27

    Google Scholar 

  • Guba E, Lincoln Y (1985) Naturalistic inquiry. Sage, Beverly Hills

    Google Scholar 

  • Guba E, Lincoln Y (1989) Fourth generation evaluation. Sage, Newbury Park

    Google Scholar 

  • Harvey L (1990) Critical social research. Routledge, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Hegel GWF (1953) Reason in history (trans: Hartman RS). Bobbs-Merrill, Minneapolis

    Google Scholar 

  • Heidegger M (1996) Being and time (trans: Stambaugh J). SUNY Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Hempel CG (1966) The philosophy of natural science. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs

    Google Scholar 

  • Hirsch ED (1971) Validity in interpretation. Yale University Press, New Haven

    Google Scholar 

  • Horkheimer M, Adorno T (2007) Dialectic of enlightenment. Stanford University Press, Palo Alto

    Google Scholar 

  • Hume D (2000) An enquiry concerning human understanding. Clarendon, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Husserl E (1960) Cartesian meditation (trans: Cairns D). M. Nijhoff, The Hague

    Google Scholar 

  • Husserl E (1967) Ideas (trans: Boyce Gribson R). Allen & Unwin, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Kant I (1998) Critique of pure reason (trans: Guyer P, Wood AW). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Kant I (2004) A prolegomenon to any future metaphysics (trans: Hatfield G). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Kincheloe JL, McLaren PL (1994) Rethinking critical theory and qualitative research. In: Denzin NK, Lincoln YS (eds) Handbook of qualitative research. Sage, Thousand Oaks, pp 138–157

    Google Scholar 

  • Kliebard H (2004) The struggle for the American curriculum, 1893–1958, 3rd edn. Routledge, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Kuhn T (1962) The structure of scientific revolutions. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

    Google Scholar 

  • Lakatos I (1978) The methodology of scientific research programmes. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Langer S (1957) Problems of art. Scribners, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Levinas E (2005) Humanism of the other. University of Illinois Press, Urbana-Champaign

    Google Scholar 

  • Lucas G (1972) Critical anthropology. New School for Social Research, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Marx K, Engels F (1998) The German ideology. Prometheus, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • McLaren P (1994) Life in schools: an introduction to critical pedagogy in the foundations of education, 2nd edn. Longman, White Plains

    Google Scholar 

  • Moss PA (2005) Understanding the other/understanding ourselves: toward a constructive dialogue about ‘principles’ in educational research. Educ Theor 55(3):268–283

    Google Scholar 

  • Nagel E (1961) The structure of science. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Noddings N (1984) Caring: a feminine approach to ethics and moral education. University of California Press, Berkeley

    Google Scholar 

  • Oakeshott M (1962) Rationalism in politics. Methuen, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Oakeshott M (1975) On human conduct. Clarendon, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Oakeshott M (1989) The voice of liberal learning. Yale University Press, New Haven

    Google Scholar 

  • Patton MQ (1990) Qualitative evaluation and research methods. Sage, Newbury Park

    Google Scholar 

  • Phenix PH (1972) Transcendence and the curriculum. Teach Coll Rec 73(2):271–283

    Google Scholar 

  • Plato (1987) The republic (trans: Lee D). Penguin, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Plato (2002) Phaedrus (trans: Waterfield R). Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Popkewitz T (1984) Paradigm and ideology in educational research: the social functions of the intellectual. Falmer, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Popper KR (1972) Objective knowledge. Clarendon, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Popper KR (1992) The logic of scientific discovery. Routledge, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Quine WVO (1977) Ontological relativity. Columbia University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Quine WVO (1999) From a logical point of view. Harvard University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Ricoeur P (1970) Freud and philosophy (trans: Savage D). Yale University Press, New Haven

    Google Scholar 

  • Ricoeur P (1974) The conflict of interpretations (trans: Ihde D). Northwestern University Press, Evanston

    Google Scholar 

  • Ricoeur P (1981) Hermeneutics and the human sciences (trans: Thompson JB). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Rist R (1977) On the relation among educational research paradigms. Anthropol Educ Quart 8(2):37–57

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Scheffler I (1983) Conceptions of knowledge. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

    Google Scholar 

  • Searle J (1995) The construction of social reality. The Free Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Shaddish WR, Cook TD, Campbell DT (2002) Experimental and quasi- experimental designs for generalized causal inference. Houghton Mifflin, Boston

    Google Scholar 

  • Sherman RR, Webb RB (eds) (1988) Qualitative research in education: focus and methods. Palmer Press, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith JK (1983) Quantitative versus qualitative research: an attempt to clarify the issue. Educ Res 12(3):6–13

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith NH (2002) Charles Taylor: meaning, morals, and modernity. Polity, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith JK, Heshusius L (1986) Closing down the conversation: the end of the quantitative-qualitative debate among educational inquirers. Educ Res 15(1):4–12

    Google Scholar 

  • St. Pierre E (2002) ‘Science’ rejects postmodernism. Educ Res 31(8):25–28

    Google Scholar 

  • Stake R (1995) The art of case study research. Sage, Thousand Oaks

    Google Scholar 

  • Taylor C (1964) The explanation of behavior. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Taylor C (1985) Philosophy and the human sciences. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Tyack D (1974) The one best system: a history of American urban education. Harvard University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • von Wright GH (1981) Explanation and understanding. Cornell University Press, Ithaca

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hanan A. Alexander .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Alexander, H.A. (2014). Traditions of Inquiry in Education: Engaging the Paradigms of Educational Research. In: Reid, A., Hart, E., Peters, M. (eds) A Companion to Research in Education. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6809-3_2

Download citation