The Open University since 2006
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Frozen Planet: The Last FrontierThursday, 26th May 2016 09:00 - EdenThe people who work, and live, at the extremes of the planet Read more: Frozen Planet: The Last Frontier
Old School With The Hairy Bikers: EPISODE 3Available until Sunday, 26th June 2016 20:00With only four weeks left at the Oxford Academy, we look to see how the old and young have learned from each other. Read more: Old School With The Hairy Bikers: EPISODE 3
All in the Mind - Summer 2016: Exams and the mental health of children, a community approach to suicide preventionAvailable until Wednesday, 24th May 2017 00:00
Thinking Allowed 2016: Glasgow gangs - Russian gangsAvailable for over a year
Shakespeare Speaks: Cruel to be kindAvailable until Monday, 20th June 2016 00:00
Life - with David AttenboroughDavid Attenborough explores the vibrant mix of life found on our plant - where it comes from, and... Read more: Life - with David Attenborough
Take the photographic memory testCan you capture scenes just by looking at them? Find out with our photographic memory test. Launch now: Take the photographic memory test
Constitutions in transitionThis free course, Constitutions in transition, explores and compares the development of four... Try: Constitutions in transition now
Start writing fictionHave you always wanted to write, but never quite had the courage to start? This free course,... Try: Start writing fiction now
This free course, Engaging with educational research, introduces you to the theoretical toolkit that is an essential part of engaging in educational enquiry. You will consider the types of theories and what their role is in the research process. Two very influential research perspectives are examined to identify differences in ways we think about and study the social world.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- understand what a research paradigm is and how paradigms are distinguished from each other by the beliefs and theoretical perspectives drawn on
- understand how a choice of research paradigm and associated methodology relates to how a research problem is conceptualised
- understand how different paradigmatic and methodological positions have led over time to different views about what counts as evidence and, as a consequence, what is judged to be valuable educational research.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 The meaning of theory
- 2 The role and nature of theories
- 3 Two competing paradigms
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Engaging with educational research
‘Doing research’ is a process but it is a malleable one that can be reworked and revised along the way. It must start with a problem which raises questions, but these can be revised and refined, even discarded as any process of research or investigation is complex and any one stage will expose further questions and require further decisions as it progresses. Each stage of the research depends on decisions made in the previous stage: the process is cumulative.
In this course you are going to build your understanding of how to evaluate research by thinking about a fundamental part of the research process – research perspectives and approaches. Learning about some of the different ways of researching situations concerned with teaching and learning and the different theoretical tools used in the research process, will enable you to begin to interrogate research literature and address your own research questions. The way research is conceptualised informs the decision about the approach to the research process. In this course we examine two distinct and influential ways in which people have in the past, and continue in the present, to think about and study the complex phenomenon of learning, and the practices and structures which support it. These two examples introduce you to the concept of research paradigms and a framework for thinking about the beliefs and theories about learners, learning and what it is to know, that lie behind researchers’ questions and choices about what to pay attention to and how to do this.
This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from The Open University course.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Friday, 4th March 2016
Last updated on: Friday, 4th March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
- Word (1.4 MB)
- PDF (2.9 MB)
- ePub 3.0 (1.1 MB)
- ePub 2.0 (1.1 MB)
- Kindle (335 KB)
- RSS (157 KB)
- HTML (905 KB)
- SCORM (904 KB)
- OUXML Package (26 KB)
- OUXML File (78 KB)
- IMS Common cartridge
- Moodle backup (1.4 MB)
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.