The Power of the Paradigm in Scholarship in Higher Education

The Power of the Paradigm in Scholarship in Higher Education

Lorraine Ling (Victoria University, Australia & La Trobe University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1001-8.ch002
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In this chapter, the six paradigms explored in this book – positivist, neo-positivist, interpretivist, transformative, pragmatic, and supercomplexity – are described and the key elements of each paradigm are discussed. The paradigms are discussed here as they apply not only to research, though this is the usual area of scholarship to which they are applied, but also to the other areas of scholarship as identified by Boyer. Scholarship as discussed is based upon Boyer's definitions of the four scholarships of discovery, application, integration, and teaching, and his subsequent addition of the scholarship of engagement. The key elements of paradigms are ontology, epistemology, axiology, methodology, intent, and outcomes. The paradigm is the focal point here because awareness of the paradigm within which the scholarship is undertaken helps to ensure consistency between elements of the activity and clarifies within the scholar's mind how best to undertake their scholarly activity.
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Research Paradigms And Research Methods

Much has been written about the so-called paradigm wars. Bryman (2008), Jones and Kennedy (2011), and Gage (1989) trace the perceived conflict that has occurred since the 1980s, at least between positivist advocates and interpretivist advocates which has caused a tendency to draw battle lines between the two paradigms. In many instances this was less a war about paradigms than a war between specific disciplines or philosophical positions. However, the so-called paradigm wars discussions and debates also confused methodology with paradigm such that what became unclear was whether there was a conflict between the paradigms (epistemology, ontology, axiology) or just about methodologies (qualitative vs. quantitative). In alluding to a tendency to exacerbate this confected dichotomy, Jones and Kennedy (2011) claim that:

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