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Educational researchers should understand the philosophy of scientific inquiry. By having a deep understanding of different epistemologies, educators will be able to use new research methods. It will allow them to find new knowledge and better explanations for important academic issues. Therefore, future educators should understand philosophical bases of the following elements of research: ontology, epistemology, paradigms, and methodology. The paper will present three questions related to the preparation of educational researchers.
One should have a coherent view of truth in science because it will help them to assess the results of their research. Current philosophical approaches to truth fall into three broad categories. The first approach has been proposed by realists and positivists who believe that a true statement is always connected to reality (Efinger, Maldonado, & McArdle, 2004). That is, words are just reflection of the external world. Another view of truth is known as the coherence theory. Proponents of the theory believe that scientific explanations are true if they correspond to already existing systems of knowledge (Efinger et al., 2004). The third view of truth is utilitarian. According to this view, truth should be evaluated with respect to its usefulness. Thus, truth is a concept meaning of which depends on its context. This approach to truth is known as the Jamesian conception of truth (Boncompagni, 2016). A question that should be considered by the class is which theory of truth is the most appropriate for educational research?
After discussing the nature of truth, it is necessary to consider how a researcher’s perspective influences the objectivity of their inquiry. According to Drew (2006), the effect of researchers’ lived experiences can be seen in every study. It happens because researchers and their projects cannot be separated from their social contexts. In other words, it is impossible to achieve full objectivity in scientific inquiry.
The exploration of scientists’ daily experiences can help them to better understand and control initial phases of their studies. Drew (2006) argues that by providing readers of a study with a brief biographical story, it is possible to show them possible biases of the inquiry. The same is true for ethical underpinnings of the study. The scholar’s argument is consistent with the utilitarian view of truth. It should be mentioned that many members of the scientific community believe that researchers’ backgrounds influence results of their studies (Frapolli, 2012; Gorfein, 2012). These backgrounds can be social, ethnic, professional, and personal. Therefore, it is necessary to consider whether or not a biographical narrative can help readers of a study to better understand truthfulness of its results?
Educational researchers should be able to understand pros and cons of quantitative and qualitative traditions. It will help them to develop views of reality that are not skewed by either the rigidity of established methods or their own biases (Paul & Marfo, 2001). Therefore, it is necessary to consider the following questions in the class:
- What theory of truth should be used by educational researchers?
- Whether or not a short biographical account can help readers of a study to assess its truthfulness?
- How can understanding of philosophical, ethical, and sociocultural foundations of quantitative and qualitative traditions improve educational research?
The paper has discussed the current approaches to truth in the context of scientific research. It has been argued that educational researchers should understand different theories of truth, which will help them to better assess the quality of research. The paper has also presented three questions for the class’ consideration.
Boncompagni, A. (2016). Wittgenstein and pragmatism: On certainty in the light of Peirce and James. New York, NY: Springer.
Drew, N. (2006). Bridging the distance between the objectivism of research and the subjectivity of the researcher. Advances in Nursing Science, 29(2), 181-191.
Efinger, J., Maldonado, N., & McArdle, G. (2004). PhD students’ perceptions of the relationship between philosophy and research: A qualitative investigation. The Qualitative Report, 9(4), 732-759.
Frapolli, M. J. (2012). The nature of truth: An updated approach to the meaning of truth ascriptions. New York, NY: Springer.
Gorfein, D. S. (2012). Resolving semantic ambiguity. New York, NY: Springer.
Paul, J. L., & Marfo, K. (2001). Preparation of educational researchers in philosophical foundations of inquiry. Review of Educational Research, 71(4), 525-547.