Paradigms in Science Education Research

Authored by: David F. Treagust , Mihye Won , Reinders Duit

Handbook of Research on Science Education

Print publication date:  July  2014
Online publication date:  July  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415629379
eBook ISBN: 9780203097267
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221972


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From the nature of science studies, science education researchers are familiar with Thomas Kuhn’s (1962) theory of paradigm shifts. Kuhn’s main focus was on scientific inquiry and the scientific community, not on social or educational research, but his term “paradigm” provides a convenient reference point to talk about different sets of beliefs, values, and methodologies in educational research (Schwandt, 2001). A paradigm in educational research is recognized as a worldview that sets the value of research and asks such questions as (Guba & Lincoln, 1994): What is counted as social knowledge, action, and meaning? What are the main goals of educational research? What are the roles of educational researchers? How do we carry out our research projects? As Anderson (1998) notes, “How you see the world is largely a function of where you view it from” (p. 3). Consequently, the research paradigms guide the researchers throughout the empirical research process, from setting the research purpose to selecting data collection methods to analyzing the data and reporting the findings.

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