ERIC Number: EJ1133267
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Apr
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
A Case for the Use of Conceptual Analysis in Science Education Research
Kahn, Sami; Zeidler, Dana L.
Journal of Research in Science Teaching, v54 n4 p538-551 Apr 2017
Imprecise constructs abound in science education research in part due to reliance on stipulative definitions that neglect fine distinctions between closely related constructs and overlook important meanings and hidden values embedded in language. Lack of conceptual clarity threatens construct validity, hampers theory development, and prevents science education researchers from focusing on the precise skills they wish to study and promote. To address these challenges, we argue for the expanded use of conceptual analysis, a traditional form of philosophical inquiry underutilized in science education research. After examining the historical and epistemological bases for this methodology, we introduce a variety of techniques used in this mode of inquiry including generic, differentiation, and conditions-type analyses using model, borderline, contrary, and invented cases. To further advance our argument, we then conduct an abbreviated differentiation-type analysis to distinguish "perspectives" from the related terms "orientations" and "positions," three terms that present conceptual challenges in the research area of Socioscientific Issues (SSI) yet are clarified and contextually situated through this analysis. Finally, in light of our analysis, we suggest future directions for the expanded use of conceptual analysis in science education research.
Descriptors: Science Education, Educational Research, Philosophy, Research Methodology, Inquiry, Science and Society, History, Epistemology, Concept Formation
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A