Moss, et al A Dialogue of Perspectives on Quality in Education Research
Moss, P. A., Phillips, D. C., Erickson, F. D., Floden, R. E., Lather, P. A., & Schneider, B. L. (2009, October). Learning from our differences: A dialogue across perspectives on quality in education research. Educational Researcher, 38(7), pp. 501-517.
This article was a dialogue among the authors. It's purpose was to address how each author addressed the characteristics or standards for judging quality or rigor in educational research, the fears that the individual has regarding a lack of rigor in educational research, and what the implications are for preparing future educational researchers. One striking point that I remember dealt with how finding commonalities should not be forced at the expense of losing the diversity that makes the method unique. Researchers need to understand the history and context of the method of selection and realize that different methods serve different and specific functions.
Framing the Issues
- I subscribe to this (her) statement: "Furthermore, meanings are embedded in complex social contexts that shape what can be understood in ways that the actors involved may not perceive, something argued to be equally true of researchers as of the people they study. From this perspective, a primary aim of social science is to understand what people mean and intend by what they say and do and to locate those understandings within the historical, cultural, institutional, and immediate situational contexts that shape them (p. 502)."
- The other camp: "If you believe, for instance, that good scientists should be objective in the sense of producing knowledge that is epistemologically independent of their personal values and sociopolitical beliefs, then you are likely to privilege as rigorous those methods that demonstrate agreement (replication or reproducibility) among independent observers (p. 502)."
- Dennis Phillips
- Rigor: "For qualitative research, well done means the study involved a substantial amount of time in fieldwork; careful, repeated sifting through information sources that were collected to identify patterns in them (using what some call analytic induction); and clear reporting on how the study was done and how conclusions followed from evidence. For qualitative work, reporting means narrative reporting that shows not only things that happened in the setting and the meanings of those happenings to participants, but the relative frequency of occurrence of those happenings - so that the reader gets to see rich details and also the broad patterns within which the details fit. The reader comes away both tree-wise and forest-wise - not tree-wise and forest-foolish, or vice versa (p. 504)."
- Educational Imagination: "When I say a study has an educational imagination, I mean it addresses issues of curriculum, pedagogy, and school organization in ways that shed light on - not prove but rather illuminate, make us smarter about - the limits and possibilities for what practicing educators might do in making school happen on a daily basis (p. 504)."
- We argue that PDS might provide evidence to contradict this statement: "What I fear most is that education research will come to be done primarily by social science specialists prepared in academic disciplines who know little about everyday life in schools and thus are unable to pursue questions of genuine educational imagination (p. 505)."
- Characteristic #1 for quality: The focus of the research and its conclusions need to be clearly stated.
- Characteristic #2 for quality: The research question must be relevant to scholarly knowledge, policy, and/or practice.
- Characteristic #3 for quality: When reporting, a clear connection between previous literature, the results, and the conclusions must be apparent.
- "...judgments of research quality should consider the topic addressed, rather than looking only at the rigor of methods used (p. 505)."
- "The quality of research done by a research community is enhanced when that community agrees on how it will measure the features or variables central to the work (p. 505)."
- "The first one is that regardless of paradigm I look for research that has some sense of the history, sociology, philosophy, ethics of inquiry, and what might be called a rigor of reflective competence (p. 506)."
- A study is of high quality when it aligns with paradigmatic assumptions.
- "I'm interested in practices toward quality that move us toward a science more accountable to complexity that might result in a less comfortable, less imperialist social science that courts unknowingness, fluidity and coming: the science possible after the critiques of science of the past 40 years (p. 506)."
- "It seems to me that one point of consensus within the education research community is a sense that high-quality research can take multiple approaches. This is a positive in that it allows for a wealth of information to help solve pressing problems. On a more negative side, the standards for rigor (beyond some universals for differences in approaches) are varied and not shared (p. 507)."
- Teaching requires both general and specific knowledge - general knowledge about pedagogy with children in general and specific knowledge about the particular children in her classroom presently. That specific knowledge is known as practitioner knowledge. The problem with American schooling is its industrialized management system (similar to that of a factory). The top is deemed to have the knowledge to make decisions. The teachers do not.
- Questions to ask yourself when deciding between using a natural science approach or a human science approach: "What is this piece of the world like that we want to study, and for what uses do we want the knowledge that our study might produce (p. 509)?"
- Robert Floden
- Patti Lather
- Barbara Schneider
Issues, Accomplishments, and Implications
- Dennis Phillips
- Pamela Moss