Conclusion: Paradigm Paradiddle

Conclusion: Paradigm Paradiddle

Lorraine Ling (Victoria University, Australia & La Trobe University, Australia) and Peter Ling (Swinburne University of Technology, Australia)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1738-2.ch021

Abstract

Authors of the chapters of this book have reflected on education research undertakings and research paradigms applicable to their work. Their writing is revisited here as it links education research in practice to underpinning understandings of the nature of the aspect of the world investigated, the drivers of the research and the contributions to knowledge that emerge. Instances that fit within or move between established research paradigms are addressed first. The case for a new research paradigm—the supercomplexity paradigm—is then rehearsed and contributions of chapter authors to that concept and its application summarized. While research reviewed in the chapters covers the full array of paradigms, the endeavors portrayed are linked by the act of research itself. In this endeavor, whatever the education research topic, approach and methods employed, being clear about the research paradigm that applies helps in ensuring the research exercise is coherent and the outcomes appropriate and defensible.
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Paradigms Of Education Research: Patterns And Interpretations

Turning attention to the five established research paradigms, the first listed is the positivist paradigm. The applicability of the positivist paradigm to education research in the current era may be challenged. It is included here for two reasons. With its ontological underpinning of a discoverable reality, it serves as a conceptual base for distinguishing other paradigms. In addition, for some reported current education research, the structure of the research and the ontology implicit continues to be positivist. In Chapters 1 and 2, we address several post-positivist paradigms; post-positivist in the sense of being adopted as an alternative to the positivist paradigm. One we have labelled “neo-positivist” because it shares something of the ontology of the positivist paradigm—the existence of an ordered reality. It is distinguished from the positivist position by an understanding that reality may be patterned, local and subject to change over time and by a recognition of the limitations of researchers. Research in the neo-positivist paradigm may explore and test existing understandings, which we have labelled the deductive mode, or may seek to fill a gap in present knowledge, which we have labelled the inductive mode. Other paradigms addressed are the interpretivist and transformative. These two paradigms share the ontological understanding that, whatever the reality of the social world, all that is available to us is what we can apprehend within our human limitations. Hence the outcomes of research are evidenced interpretations of the researcher working with the researched. Multiple defensible interpretations of a research subject can be available simultaneously. The transformative paradigm is distinguished by a concern with human rights and social justice and the endeavor to produce an evidenced, socially-constructed understanding with potential to support empowered action. We have included a pragmatic paradigm in our framework as an approach to research unencumbered by ontological or methodological constraints but driven by the need to find a practical solution to a problem. Pragmatic research is often undertaken as a commissioned investigation.

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