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The Design(s) of Educational Research: Description and Interpretation

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Abstract

The chapter questions the use of (quasi-) experimental designs as the exclusive (or the best) way to conduct educational research. It focuses not only on the problems of a quantitative approach, often ignoring the ‘ends’ and invoking ‘factors’ which operate independently, but also identifies the weaknesses of qualitative research, i.e. often stating the obvious and betraying the holistic nature of its own presuppositions. Starting from the insights of Peter Winch it is argued that one should start from ‘what makes sense for us’. Educational research is ‘philosophical’, i.e. it is about ‘concepts’ and ‘social practice’. Such an interpretative stance highlights further that educational research should be seen as a performative intervention that is interested in various modes of explanation and thus uses various methods. It contributes to the task of improving upon our practical knowledge of ongoing social life which presupposes dialogue between all those involved.

Keywords

  • Interpretative research
  • Winch
  • Holistic approach
  • What makes sense for us
  • Performative intervention

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Correspondence to Paul Smeyers .

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Smeyers, P. (2014). The Design(s) of Educational Research: Description and Interpretation. 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_9

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