Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1994). Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 105-117). London: Sage.

In this book chapter, Guba and Lincoln analyze four research paradigms: positivism, postpositivism, critical theory, and constructivism. A paradigm is a basic belief system or a worldview that guides the researcher. The emphasis of this chapter is on the paradigms, their assumptions, and the implications of those assumptions for research. They begin with a critique of over-quantification and the received view of knowledge, noting such issues as the theory-laden and value-laden nature of facts and the relationship between the inquirer and the object of the inquiry. The four paradigms are then examined with regard to ontology (what is the form and nature of reality), epistemology (what is the nature of the relationship between the knower and what can be known), and methodology (how can the inquirer go about finding out whatever he or she believes can be known). The authors use comparison charts to show the differences between the paradigms. Constructivism is in the early of development as a research paradigm and is distinguished from the others by its relativist stance, which holds that realities are apprehensible in the form of multiple, intangible mental constructions that are socially and experientially based. The authors discuss the implications of each paradigm on selected practical issues.

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