Paradigm Surfing Across Disciplines in Scholarship and Education Research: Paradigm Surfing

Paradigm Surfing Across Disciplines in Scholarship and Education Research: Paradigm Surfing

Catherine Lang (La Trobe University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1001-8.ch012

Abstract

This chapter presents the experiences of a researcher conducting scholarship and education research in the computing discipline. It provides evidence of a journey through several paradigms, hence the chapter title: “Paradigm Surfing”. This chapter includes a case-by-case retrospective analysis of several influential research projects referring to the categorization of paradigms presented by Ling and Ling in Chapter 1 of this book, and other scholars. The scholarships as distinguished by Boyer are also exemplified. An understanding of paradigm shift influenced by the environment, the research purpose, and perceived maturity of the researcher are presented. The interaction of Boyer's five scholarship areas – discovery, teaching, application, integration, and engagement – constitutes a central thread. The reflexive lens used demonstrates how these developmental scholarship and research experiences have contributed to a rich understanding of the importance of paradigms and the nature of interdisciplinary educational scholarship and research.
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Background To My Research Journey

As a practicing schoolteacher with 10 years’ experience, I gained the opportunity to undertake a university-based Teaching Fellowship, which was a collaboration with one university and the Department of Education in my State. This award recognized my significant contributions in the areas of the scholarships of teaching, application, integration (Boyer, 1990) and engagement (Boyer, 1996). I was released from my school to the university for twelve months and retained my current school position and salary, not an unimportant consideration for anyone working as an academic in a university without a higher degree. The year-long secondment involved three key aspects. The first aspect involved a commitment to teach into the undergraduate degree program thus extending and consolidating my skills, values and attributes in the scholarship of teaching. The second aspect involved interacting with university academics to promote the smooth transition of students to higher education, which drew heavily on my skills and knowledge in the scholarships of integration, application and engagement. The third was a commitment to undertake a research project related to teaching and learning, hence blending the scholarships of teaching and discovery in a way that extended the scholarship of teaching into that of discovery, as it was intended to result in the addition of new understandings to the current wisdom in the discipline area of the teaching of ICT in both schools and higher education.

In my school I was expert in two disciplines, Geography and Information Technology. While I was passionate about both areas I was aware of the growing importance of Computing and Information Technology in all aspects of education and business. I had observed that my senior classes were consistently dominated by male students, and despite my active petitioning to female students, I had little success in attracting them into the senior computing classes. Serendipitously, in my Teaching Fellowship application I proposed a research topic related to gender and computing that caught the attention of the Dean of the Faculty of Computing, who also was becoming increasingly aware of the gendered skew of students studying the discipline at university level.

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