ERIC Number: EJ903553
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Reference Count: 55
Learning Research as a Human Science: Old Wine in New Bottles?
Penuel, William R.; O'Connor, Kevin
Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, v109 n1 p268-283 2010
Taken as a whole, this volume can be viewed as an argument for reframing learning research as a human science, one focused on interpreting learning situations and organizing for improving learning in ways that put human agency, values, and engagement with social practices at the center. Each chapter illuminates one or more elements of a human sciences approach. Still other chapters explore methodological and epistemological dilemmas associated with studying learning from this perspective and infuse new meanings into metaphors for learning. Many draw contrasts with alternative ways of framing learning research. But do these different chapters outline a distinctive approach to learning research that merits the broader attention of the field? To answer this question, the authors describe the vision of learning research presented in the National Research Council consensus volume produced at the beginning of the last decade, "Scientific Research in Education" (2002), which contrasts with the vision presented in this Yearbook. That volume sought to create a postpositivist vision of education as a science, one that recognizes that "social ideals inevitably influence the research that is done, the way it is framed and conducted, and the policies and practices that are based on research findings," but that is also committed to testing claims that can be investigated and proved false. The committee did recognize that values and politics are central in the contested field of educational research; for them, the main implication was that educational researchers should pay close attention to context and to limits on the generalizability of any findings. The authors' view is that a human sciences perspective foregrounds human agency, values, motives, and goals in ways that the committee that developed "Scientific Research in Education" did not. As they elaborate in this chapter, the authors do not believe that the human sciences approach is only "old wine in new bottles." They conclude this chapter, and this Yearbook, by offering some final words on learning research as human science.
Descriptors: Scientific Research, Educational Research, Sciences, Educational Researchers, Social Influences, Research Methodology, Social Values, Figurative Language
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A