Preparation of Educational Researchers in Philosophical Foundations of Inquiry

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2001


collaborative research, educational research, graduate research training, methodological pluralism, paradigmatic pluralism, philosophy of science

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In this article we examine the nature, scope, and significance of basic philosophical issues in the preparation of researchers. Following a brief review of the history of educational research and a discussion of the philosophy of science supporting much of this research, we present and discuss two central assertions in the context of the growing prominence of paradigmatic and methodological pluralism in education and the human sciences. The first assertion is that the curriculum for preparing researchers in education continues to be dominated by the epistemology of logical empiricism, the philosophy of science undergirding the quantitative research tradition. The second assertion is that research education tends to place a disproportionate emphasis on technical methods and procedures, with little attention given to the philosophical, moral, and political values that underpin procedural practices and that frame, however tacitly, the context for knowledge production. We argue that the hegemony of quantitative science and the narrow preoccupation with methodological rigor as the singular yardstick for judging good science are serious problems requiring immediate attention in research education programs. We present a case for expanding the research education curriculum to include a strong and broad foundation in the history, philosophy, sociology, and ethics of inquiry. To illustrate how this can be achieved, we propose two features of an intellectual culture that may be developed: (a) course work on philosophical issues in inquiry, which doctoral students should be required to take in preparation for—or as a supplement to—technical courses on statistical methods and research design; and (b) an atmosphere of interdisciplinary and multiparadigmatic collaborative research that provides an informal context for students to experience and practice the values fostered by such course work.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Review of Educational Research, v. 71, no. 4, p. 525-547.