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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.
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