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Chapter 1 The Nature of Educational Research

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Chapter 1 Complete

p. 2 : #1 (Describe the four types of knowledge yielded by educational research.) Remember the acronym "PIED"


Description Descriptive studies have greatly increased our knowledge about what happens in schools. (p.3)

Prediction The ability to predict a phenomenon that will occur at time Y from information available at an earlier time X. (p. 4)

Improvement The effectiveness of interventions (p.4)

Explanation The most important in the long term. In a sense, this type of knowledge subsumes the other three. If researchers are able to explain an educational phenomenon, it means they can describe it, can predict its consequences, and know how to intervene to change those consequences. (p. 6)


#3 (State several reasons why it is difficult to apply research findings to educational practice.)p. 10


  • Limited generalizability
  • While it discovers what is, it always does so within a certain worldview and set of values
  • Schon and many others claim that practioners need to engage in reflection-in-action, not in the application of research knowledge, in order to deal with the "messiness" of their work.


from chapter Self-Check Test


Educational research findings tend not to affect practice directly because

a. research findings are too neutral.

b. research findings derived almost entirely from basic research.

c. policy makers tend to see no value in research findings.

d. policymakers view research findings as only one basis for decision making.

#5 (Describe the major epistemological issues in social science research.) p. 13


Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge and the process by which knowledge is acquired and validated. (p. 13)


Objective Reality and Constructed Reality (p.14)


Objective Reality--features exist independently of the individuals who created them or who observe them.


  • Positivist epistemology--epistemological doctrine that physical and social reality is independent of those who observe it, and the observations of this reality, if unbiased, constitute scientific knowledge.


Constructed Reality--social reality is constructed by the individuals who participate in it.


  • post-positivist epistemology--individuals gradually build their own understanding of the world through experience and maturation.


from chapter Self-Check Test

2. A postpositivist researcher would view the concept of learning disorder as

a. generalizable across cultures.

b. theory-free.

c. value-laden.

d. value-free.


3. The use of standardized tests, detachment from the persons being studied, and interest in finding general laws are characteristics of

a. postpositivist research.

b. positivist research.

c. interpretive research.

d. postmodern research.


#9 (Explain the difference between the mechanical, the interpretive, and the structural views of causation in social reality.) p. 21


mechanical-positivist researchers look for a causal relationship from outside forces acting upon the phenomenon

interpretive-post-positivist researchers assume that people develop interpretations of the social environment that affect their subsequent actions.

structural-scientific realism assumes that there are multiple layers of causal structures, which are real objects that interact with each other to cause people to take certain actions or, in some cases, to take no action.


#10 (State the main differences between quantitative and qualitative researchers in their epistemological assumptions and methodology.) p.23


positivist research-quantitative, grounded in the assumption that features of the social environment constitute an independent reality and are relatively constant across time and settings.


  • take an objective, detached stance toward research participants and their setting
  • study populations or samples
  • study behavior and other observable phenomena
  • study human behavior in natural or contrived settings
  • analyze social reality into variables
  • use preconceived concepts and theories to determine what data will be collected
  • generate numerical data to represent the social environment
  • use statistical methods to analyze data
  • use statistical inference procedures to generalize findings
  • prepare and personal, objective reports of research findings


Post-positivist research-qualitative, grounded in the assumption that features of the social environment or constructed as interpretations by individuals and that these interpretations tend to be transitory and situational.


  • become personally involved with research participants
  • steady cases
  • study the meanings that individuals create and other internal phenomena
  • study human actions in natural settings
  • make holistic observations of the total context within which social action occurs
  • discover concepts and theories after data have been collected
  • generate verbal and pictorial data to represent the social environment
  • use analytic induction to analyze data
  • generalize case findings by searching for other similar cases
  • prepare interpretive reports that reflect researchers' constructions of the data and an awareness that readers will form their own constructions from what is reported


7. Postpositivist researchers would question the practice of quantification in the social sciences on the grounds that

a. quantifiable aspects of social phenomena tend to be unimportant.

b. numerical values of a variable can have different meanings for different individuals.

c. quantification of social phenomena assumes that these phenomena are constant across time and settings.

d. all of the above.


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