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Good Education Research: What Is It? Essay

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Updated: Jun 24th, 2021

Introduction

Today is the world where people confront a variety of issues- issues such as natural disaster, political instability, unemployment, lower agricultural productivity, climate change, deadly diseases, juvenile delinquency, increasing trend of divorce, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, indiscipline in the classroom, digital divide, low education standards, and many others. The process of establishing causes and searching for solutions to these issues may be called research. A key objective of the research is to expand the knowledge base. Genuine research generally starts when someone has identified an issue and asked a question, and set out to search for an answer to the question.

Although answers of questionable validity or reliability may already be available, still more knowledge through further research is necessary to find an accurate and complete answer. This is also the case in the field of education- be it curriculum, foundations, administration, or planning. Most of the work being done in the field of education focuses on learning and teaching, but the problem areas also include the methodology of teaching, multiculturalism, motivation, intelligence, attention, parental involvement, instructional technology, and classroom discipline. Any study of investigation, which sets out to find solutions for these and other problems, can be called educational research. This paper will determine what good education research is? Discussion in the paper will be made, based on a comparative analysis of positions taken by Hostetler, Firestone, and Martin on the topic of good education research.

Hostetler’s Claims & Beliefs about ‘Good’ Research

Education research is important because it strives to search for solutions to the issues of learning and teaching as well as other interrelated areas. The importance of education research is established from the fact that it provides the data or information to manage educational issues more effectively and intelligently. Education research provides important information to help policymakers design and formulate good policies, for example, policies that would make the learning and teaching process less problematic at one hand and more rewarding to learners, teachers, and society as a whole. Moreover, education research provides important information to help improve the knowledge base in the field of education.

Education research tends to solve issues for improving the quality of education and contribute to the welfare of society. Hostetler (2005) believes good education research focuses on the well-being of people. According to Hostetler, good research is not only about following sound procedures but also of beneficial aims and results. Hostetler believes that the ultimate aim of researchers and practitioners is “to serve people’s well-being – the well-being of students, teachers, communities, and others.” Hostetler emphasizes that education research has a profound impact on people’s well-being (Hostetler, 2005).

Hostetler argues that these concerns are not usually foregrounded in higher education institutions. Academic contexts, for example, emphasize explanations of methodological rigor for research-related processes. Although Hostetler asserts that “inquiry into well-being can and does lead to generalizations about what a good human life entails,” he emphasizes that these generalizations overwhelm just “those particular factors and experiences that are essential to an individual’s well-being” (Hostetler, 2005). Hostetler highlights the importance of ethics in good research as “life is the laboratory for ethics.” He also maintains that the value of empirical evidence is vital for good education research, which then ensures the well-being of human beings. Empirical evidence surely is “relevant to research into well-being.” Also, empirical findings are relevant to ethical questions, to engage “with questions about well-being, we must be clear about the necessity to go beyond the empirical” (Hostetler, 2005).

Critique of Hostetler’s Position

Hostetler emphasizes the main theme inherent in good education research is the well-being of stakeholders in education. Based on this theme, it can be argued that good education research plays a key role in improving the quality of education. Good education research is thus directly linked to improvements in well-being and eventually improve lifestyle. These improvements may include making significant investments in learning programs and supporting policy options for the achievements of pre-determined educational goals.

Good research improves the well-being of stakeholders- such as students and teachers- by expanding the knowledge base. This requires researchers to possess knowledge about the problems they investigate and also be well-conversant about research processes. As stated in his article, Hostetler maintains that “researchers are expected to be knowledgeable and articulate regarding the process of research.” Hostetler’s position can be supported when he says research should be good in the “fullest sense,” and even if not fully articulated, there should be a connection between robust and justifiable conception of human well-being. Connection of research with human well-being could provide satisfaction to the researcher. As research improves well-being, there is a feeling of satisfaction that comes from knowing the contributions research has made in the education field.

Firestone’s Position & Comparison with Hostetler

Similar to a good teacher, a researcher should possess specific attributes or qualities. A good researcher should be well-versed in research methodology and processes. Firestone has focused on research methodology and discussed the connection between qualitative and quantitative research. Hostetler identified the generalizability issue as the tension between quantitative research competing for validity and legitimacy with qualitative research. Quantitative research, for example, may need a “random sample of subjects and some quantifiable measure of results, say the pitch and duration of victims’ shrieks.” A qualitative researcher could “resort that such data are inadequate, and might want to interview the victims to get a thicker and richer narrative of their experience and its meaning for them” (Hostetler, 2005).

Firestone has traced the relationship between quantitative and qualitative methods. Firestone has summarized viewpoints of two groups taking extreme positions on the connection between quantitative and qualitative methods. One group believes that these two methodologies are “based on paradigms that are necessarily in conflict.” The researcher should try to choose a method that makes a long-term value commitment that is difficult to change. The group at the other extreme argues that there is “no necessary logical connection between paradigm and method-types.” Firestone has taken a position that supports the second group arguing no logical connection between qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Firestone suggests that qualitative and quantitative methods present a different view of the phenomenon studied. Each method, according to Firestone, presents different kinds of information and can be used “to triangulate to gain greater confidence in one’s conclusions” (Firestone, 1987).

Firestone reviewed two studies with different methodologies, one with quantitative and the other qualitative. The rhetorical analysis of two studies reviewed by Firestone showed an aesthetic connection between method-types and paradigms. These two methodologies are, however, different in objectives and processes involved. The methods of quantitative research “voice the concerns of the positivistic paradigm to identify objective social facts and eliminate error.” Moreover, quantitative procedures also provide the impression of detachment as well as lack of bias (Firestone, 1987).

Analysis of two studies by Firestone has revealed that qualitative studies devote less space to procedures and more to the description. The reason is that qualitative studies place less emphasis on identifying a single truth. The qualitative account showed the ways in which the concrete facts of the situation fit the explanation proposed (Firestone, 1987).

A comparative analysis of the position taken by Hostetler and Firestone reveals the different focus of these scholars. Hostetler has mainly focused on the tenets and features of good education research. Firestone is mainly interested in the differences between quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Firestone has found no real connection between these two methodologies. A review of the literature has confirmed this position taken by Fireman. The simplest way to differentiate between qualitative and quantitative research methodologies is to say that the former involves a researcher explaining types of characteristics of events and people without comparing events regarding amounts or measurements. Contrary to that, quantitative methods focus attention specifically on amounts and measurements of the characteristics displayed by events and people that the researcher studies (Smeyers & Smith, 2014).

Martin’s Position: A Comparative Analysis

Timothy J. Martin takes a different position, compared with Firestone. Firestone espouses the position that the connection between quantitative and qualitative research methodologies is not so much logical as rhetorical. Similar to Firestone, Martin also reviewed and analyzed two studies of educational designs using different methodologies. Martin notes that despite the difference in methodologies, these two studies share similar conclusions. The similarity is striking because not only methodologies had been different, but the countries and contexts of the two studies also differed. Qualitative data usually includes quantification, for example, statements and specific numbers. Quantitative approaches also collect qualitative data by asking open-ended questions.

Ponterotto’s and Hostetler’s Ideas

In this work, Ponterotto (2005) discusses those characteristics of research that appeal to him the most. The author focuses on the most popular and advantageous paradigms and inquiry approaches that are typically used by researchers. However, he applies all these elements to counseling psychology, while Hostetler (2005) pays much attention to the sphere of education. Due to this discrepancy, a range of differences may be observed in the selected articles. However, Ponterotto (2005) presupposes that research can be used for educational purposes because he emphasizes that it can expand students’ straining. Thus, it is possible to claim that both authors reveal the significance of research for teaching and improvement of the knowledge base. They realize that studies enhance people’s well-being as a result.

Hostetler (2005) speaks about the importance of ethics, but Ponterotto (2005) does not pay attention to this element. In fact, the second author is more concerned about methodology but not benefits for the community, which Hostetler (2005) believes to be a great drawback. Ponterotto’s (2005) work is based on the peculiarities of qualitative research. The professional considers that it is the best option for psychology because quantitative research studies have a narrow paradigmatic focus and do not allow scientists to benefit the sphere significantly. Moreover, he considers that empirical procedures allow obtaining the most important practice information that is why they should be included in good research. Hostetler (2005) supports this opinion and states that empirical evidence provides an opportunity “to research into well-being,” which is the main purpose of all studies (p. 19). Thus, it is possible to treat it as one of the most important characteristics of good research.

Regardless of the benefits of qualitative studies, the authors do not state that quantitative research should be avoided. They believe that it can be required in some cases even though the amount of new knowledge it provides to the discipline is limited. Ponterotto (2005) even claims that the use of the mixed method can be advantageous since it allows answering various questions.

Grajales and Gonzalez’s Claims compared to Hostetler’s Beliefs.

Grajales and Gonzalez (2008) discuss the characteristics of educational research, emphasizing that the alteration in people’s viewpoints affects the way they conduct studies and select appropriate methodology. In view of this, their discussion is close to the one revealed by Hostetler (2005). The authors believe that studies are critical for educational purposes because they allow gathering knowledge and implementing numerous improvements in practice. Moreover, they underline that the overall purpose of research does not differ depending on the discipline.

Debates regarding the use of qualitative and quantitative methods are considered by Grajales and Gonzalez (2008). They believe that researchers have different attitudes regarding them because of the philosophy of science that guides them. In this way, qualitative researchers think that quantification is “limited in nature, as it only observes a portion of reality and, as a result, understanding of the whole is affected” (Grajales & Gonzalez, 2008, p. 163). Thus, they focus on the context that provides an opportunity to investigate a concept from different perspectives. In addition to that, the authors emphasize that the use of qualitative methods presupposes additional biases from participants.

However, they admit also admit that every researcher implements personal biases in a study. As a result, qualitative approaches admit the inability to reach purely objective sense. At the same time, researchers’ biases can be present in quantitative studies, but they are often ignored. Grajales and Gonzalez (2008) believe that the use of quantitative research is facilitated by technological development and the ability to use a machine to work with data because it is always objective. Hostetler (2005) also considers that the paradigm of objectivity affects research preferences. To overcome issues developed by the existing debates, he encourages scientists to use both methods but seems to be more interested in the benefits of qualitative studies because they reveal human reality better than machines.

AERA Standards for Reporting Educational Research and Comparison

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) has provided guidelines for reporting on empirical social science research in AERA publications. The purpose of publishing these guidelines is “to provide guidance about the kinds of information essential to understanding both the nature of the research and the importance of the results” (AERA, 2006). Hostetler (2005), in his turn, developed his article in order to make people realize what he believes to be good research and why. His work discusses the characteristics that should be included in the best educational research. In view of these, both articles have the same main purpose. However, the AERA (2006) reveals the views of different professionals and tends to share only those facts that are supported by many scientists and can hardly be questioned. Hostetler (2005) shares his personal ideas instead. Even though the author provides a rationale for his claims, he provides biased information and emphasizes that everything he mentions in his own considerations.

A part of these guidelines describes the differences between quantitative and qualitative methodologies. This viewpoint confirms the position taken by Firestone, arguing in favor of no connection between these two methodologies. AERA guidelines describe the main difference between these two methodologies is that quantitative methods usually involve analysis and then make discussions to develop results. Researchers use qualitative methods for making analyses during and after data collection. The researcher can then identify patterns within the data collected and analyzed. Despite differences in these two methodologies, AERA guidelines recognize the significance of both in education research. Education researchers should try to fully characterize the processes they use so that others can trace their logic of inquiry (AERA, 2006). Hostetler (2005) supports this idea, revealing that each type of research has its benefits. That is why scientists should use both methods to improve the quality of their discussions. However, the value of empirical data is emphasized, which allows identifying Hostetler’s preferences.

Conclusion

Discussion in the paper has focused on the contents of articles authored by Hostetler, Firestone, and Martin. Hostetler has related good education research to the well-being of stakeholders in the field of education. Firestone believes there is no connection between qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Martin, however, offers a different viewpoint. He argues that these two different methodologies may lead to drawing similar conclusions. Ponterotto, as well as Grajales and Gonzalez, try to explain how researchers select approaches to use in their studies. The AERA Guidelines discuss the characteristics of educational research. A section of guidelines is devoted to highlighting the differences between the two methodologies. On the basis of all these articles, it is possible to conclude that good research is one that serves the well-being of students, teachers, and communities, expanding the knowledge base of the discipline. Moreover, this research should depend on both qualitative and quantitative approaches, but empirical evidence should be emphasized.

References

AERA. (2006). Standards for reporting on empirical social science: Research in AERA publications. Educational Researcher, 35(6), 33-40.

Firestone, W. A. (1987). Meaning in method: The rhetoric of quantitative and qualitative research. Educational Researcher, 16(7), 16-21.

Grajales, T., & Gonzalez, S. (2008). Towards a new concept of research. Journal of Research on Christian Education, 17, 153–172.

Hostetler, K. (2005). What is ‘good’ education research? Educational Researcher, 34(6), 16-21.

Martin, T. J. (2003). Divergent ontologies with converging conclusions: A case study comparison of comparative methodologies. Comparative Education, 39(1), 105-117.

Ponterotto, J. (2005). “Qualitative Research in Counseling Psychology: A Primer on Research Paradigms and Philosophy of Science.” Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52(2), 126-136.

Smeyers, P & Smith, R (2014) Understanding education and educational research. New York: NY: Cambridge University Press.

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