Navigating the Path Between Positivism and Interpretivism for the Technology Academic Completing Education Research

  • Michael A. Cowling
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Education Research Methods book series (PSERM)


Technology researchers, who typically come from a background steeped in experimentation and dogma, may contribute to qualitative research in learning and teaching. This chapter challenges the perceived positivist epistemology of technology academics, its communication with research in technology, focusing in particular on how epistemology in this discipline is usually downplayed in favour of discussion of methods at the expense of epistemology and methodology. Using work such as that by Hofer and Bendixen (Personal epistemology: Theory, research, and future directions. In K. Harris, S. Graham, & T. Urdan (Eds.), APA educational psychology handbook, Vol. 1. Theories, constructs, and critical issues (pp. 227–256). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2012) on “personal epistemology”, the position of different epistemologies and their relationships to research questions will be discussed, with strategies identified to allow researchers coming from technology research to navigate an epistemological shift for learning and teaching research and discussion on why this might be required.


Research Design Theoretical Perspective Symbolic Interactionism Personal Epistemology Technology Researcher 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Chinn, C. A., Buckland, L. A., & Samarapungavan, A. L. A. (2011). Expanding the dimensions of epistemic cognition: Arguments from philosophy and psychology. Educational Psychologist, 46(3), 141–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cranton, P. (2002). Teaching for transformation. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2002(93), 63–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Crotty, M. (1998). The foundations of social research. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  5. Cowling, M., & Sitte, R. (2003). Comparison of techniques for environmental sound recognition. Pattern Recognition Letters, 24(15), 2895–2907.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cowling, M. A. (2012). Student attendance as a measure of academic success. Proceedings of Hawaii International Conference on Education, Hawaii, USA, 5–8 January.Google Scholar
  7. Cowling, M. A. (2014). Models for the successful integration of social networking into the studies of digital native students. Proceedings of ISANA International Education Association 25th Annual Conference, Adelaide, SA, 2–5 December.Google Scholar
  8. Cowling, M. A., & Novak, J., (2012). Tweet the teacher: Using Twitter as a mechanism to increase classroom engagement. Proceedings of ISANA International Education Association 23rd Annual Conference, Auckland, NZ, 4–7 December.Google Scholar
  9. Hofer, B. K., & Bendixen, L. D. (2012). Personal epistemology: Theory, research, and future directions. In K. Harris, S. Graham, & T. Urdan (Eds.), APA educational psychology handbook, Vol. 1, Theories, constructs, and critical issues (pp. 227–256). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  10. Howard, B. C., McGee, S., Schwartz, N., & Purcell, S. (2000). The experience of constructivism: Transforming teacher epistemology. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 32(4), 455–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Moore, D. (2004). The basic practice of statistics (3rd ed.). New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.Google Scholar
  12. Muijs, D. (2010). Doing quantitative research in education with SPSS. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  13. Muis, K. R., Bendixen, L. D., & Haerle, F. C. (2006). Domain-generality and domain-specificity in personal epistemology research: Philosophical and empirical reflections in the development of a theoretical framework. Educational Psychology Review, 18(1), 3–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Myers, M. D. (2015). Qualitative research in information systems. MIS Quarterly (21:2), June 1997, pp. 241–242. MISQ Discovery, archival version, June 1997, Association for Information Systems (AISWorld) Section on Qualitative Research in Information Systems, updated version, last modified: April 13, 2015,
  15. O’donoghue, T. (2006). Planning your qualitative research project: An introduction to interpretivist research in education. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Pintrich, P. R., Marx, R. W., & Boyle, R. A. (1993). Beyond cold conceptual change: The role of motivational beliefs and classroom contextual factors in the process of conceptual change. Review of Educational Research, 63(2), 167–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Sinatra, G. M., & Chinn, C. A. (2012). Thinking and reasoning in science: Promoting epistemic conceptual change. In K. R. Harris, S. Graham, T. Urdan, A. G. Bus, S. Major, & H. L. Swanson (Eds.), APA educational psychology handbook, Vol. 3: Application to learning and teaching., (pp. 257–282). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association, viii, 668 pp. (pp. 257–282). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. http://doi:10.1037/13275-011 [pp. viii, 668].Google Scholar
  18. Weiers, R. (2008). Introduction to business statistics (6th ed.). Ohio: Cengage Learning.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael A. Cowling
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Education and the ArtsCQUniversity AustraliaBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations