Friday, June 24, 2005

research theory and practice ...

I've been reading Peter Freebody - (2003) Qualitative research in education: Interaction and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage - all week. It's quite an interesting read and I've been writing heaps. I've quite enjoyed getting head long into, and high on, epistemology, methology etc

Here is some stuff from Freebody (some is intercut with my own commentary):
Research is a systematic attempt to re-see the everyday, partly by stripping away from our observations the typifications made available by our culture, and, in turn, by treating those typifications as crucial aspects of everyday experience itself - available for analysis. (p. 42)

Freebody believes educational researchers need to be committed to 'documenting observations that are at the one time conceptually informative, professionally useful and ideologically productive.' (p. ix) Not a bad goal that.

What is central to productive research is an organic and explicitly understood relationship between conceptual interests, analytic methods and methological design. Each of itself cannot secure the productivity of a research project; it is rather their interplay in practice that can generate refined theory and analysis, and more professionally fulfilling practice. (p. x)

For researchers, methods need to be generative of significant reflection, not just equipment for producing conclusions. (p. x)

... everyday interaction weaves and re-weaves the social order. Dimentions of that order, including the 'big' sociological categorizations we commonly use to describe socal and cultural experience - socio-economic status, gender, ethnicity, race, religion and so on - are built by people's everyday concerted activities; they do not provide us with determinants or ready-made explanations of those activities. (p. x)

Do researchers aims to re-present a particular event in terms of its particularities, in ways that may make it difficult to draw out its comparabilities with other events? Or do researchers attempt to re-present only those features that can be placed against those of other events, on the premise that the essential, predetermined features of these events are directly comparable? That is, we can foreground the particularities of an event, its resolute 'localness', as a way of enhancing the internal validity of the work. But in doing this we make the addition of interpretations from this event to other apparently, supposedly, or potentially comparable events more tenous. (p. 29)

He suggests that the provision of high levels of detail in descriptions of scenery, action and the researchers' roles in the event, are all necessary. But more important is the 'self-consciousness of the recording and analytic processes, and the explication for the reader of this self-consciousness of the matter of how relevance will be determined - this time, in this project, for these particular purposes.' (p. 31) (sounds like a healthy dose of REFLEXIVITY!)

... whatever a particular research approach may technically denote by way of content, its force is to connote a way of knowing. In that sense the significance of qualitative research is that it points to a paradigm - a coherent collection of propositions about the world, their relative importance, and particular ways of finding out and knowing about them - rather than just to a collection of techniques (p. 38)

Participants' understandings of their actions are fundamental to the characterization of those actions as 'educational' (p. 40)

On one hand, social life is viewed as instancing primarily social-organisational features such as gender, class, ethnicity, or more locally, as instancing such institutional orders such as 'classroom life', families and so on. On the other hand, social life is viewed as instancing primarily its own orderliness, that is, the organisational features of social practice built through the actions of people as they function in a variety of settings. (p. 48)

... it needs to be pointed out that the distinction between quantitative and qualitative research activity is not of itself a distinction about the structure or purpose of inquiry. It is rather, in its technical, minimal sense, a distinction based on a way of conceiving the object of study and on analytic method (p. 51).

... nothing new can emerge from the juxtaposing of thoroughly differing constructions and interpretations of a domain of educational practice, when the various languages the various sciences use to name and demarcate that practice differ in kind. What they may 'discover' is a variety of readers who can be informed, aligned and influenced by quantitative and qualitative language or by the focussed combination of these languages. ... such a mixture may bring off a broader consensus than would any single approach. (p. 52)

The belief that differing approaches will, should or can generally converge itself reflects a belief in a final cultural reality, viewed only imperfectly through different but merely differently-distorted lenses - that is, a presumption of an aggregated-order approach. (p. 53)

No I haven't transcribed the whole book - yet ...

But as you can tell there is plenty of food for thought in these little gems.

Sorry to those who are bored by this, because I certainly AM NOT! Bring on the theory! (and plenty of practice too!)


At 9:28 pm, Blogger nb said...

Boring? Nah. Refreshing, as always.

At 6:52 pm, Blogger christinA said...

great quotes from peter freebody and I have also found this text very useful. not sure if you have seen much of his work, however he comes out of a particular perspective -that of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis- so it is a particular take on interpretive work.

At 8:20 pm, Blogger Scott said...

You're right about Freebody - but his CDA type bent is not hard to miss - all the examples of conversation analysis he gives are fairly tight. This is helpful though (for me anyway) as it's an area I'm interested in pursuing.

Do you have a blog christinA? Your profile is not public at present! Are you going to share?

At 6:54 pm, Blogger christinA said...

Scott, thanks for asking (you are the first), I DO have a blog. It is

I have one link on my blog that you might be interested in -it is an article by Paul ten have about conversation analysis. it is on the right hand side of my blog. it is a great article, a classic that will give you a sense of CA from a broader perspective.

I have just completed my PhD using CA. I love it but the methodology is not for everybody. not a lot of researchers take to it. and certainly hardly anyone in australia. freebody is one. the other was my supervisor carolyn baker who died during my PhD candidature. I reckon that there is probably only half a dozen people in oz who take on CA but glad to hear that it appeals to you. you should know that it is considered to be the "bad boy" of research methodologies. in a word this is becuase it takes no account of context other than through the close analysis of talk (in transcripts) and what this shows about what people know and use during social activity, anyhow, I am just a beginner -paul ten have says it better so have a look at his paper.

At 7:06 pm, Blogger christinA said...

a ps regarding CA

on my blog I have also put up my chapter from my phD thesis on my methodology. my examiners and supervisor who took over from carolyn baker (Colin Lankhear) said that it was a meticulous outline of the methodolgy so (with a great humility) i offer it up as an overview of conversation analysis and ethnomethodology. c


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