Research Methodologies And Methods Education Essay

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Research methodologies and their associated methods have been used by researchers to gain a clearer understanding of natural, social and cultural phenomena. Quantitative research methodology, utilizing a paradigm of practice described as the positivist, objectivist, descriptive experimental and causal comparative (Leedy and Ormrod, 2001); has been the predominant approach to research in the natural sciences and recently, the social sciences (Myers, 1997). The focus is on testing of theory and /or manipulation of variables to determine the validity of predictive generalization of theory (Joubish, et al., 2011; Guba and Lincoln, 1994). Williams (2007) asserted that quantitative research was independent of the researcher and adopted an empiricist paradigm (Creswell, 2003); allowing for objectivity, which yielded its value-neutrality.

The debate about educational research continues (Castellan, 2010; Boyd, 2000; Hanmersley, 1992). In the post-colonial period (the last four decades), an influential group of researchers in the social sciences, emphasizing the significant impact of ethics and values in educational research emerged. They questioned the accuracy, appropriateness, impact, relevance, sustainability and dependability of the traditional quantitative approach with respect to social/cultural/human phenomena (Carr, 2000; Guba and Lincoln, 1994). They questioned the philosophical, ontological and epistemological assumptions which underlie the methodologies and methods used in quantitative research, and asserted that there was validity in research undertaken from a non-European, developing world perspective (Smith, 1999; Said, 1993; Spivak, 1990; Fanon, 1963).

Indigenous researchers (Kaomea, 2001; Smith, 1999; Spivak, 1990) also questioned the power relationships and ambivalence existing between western educated researchers, their local communities and western academic institutions; questioning power relationships traditionally existing between the researchers and local researched communities, articulating the need to empower and/or give 'voice' to such communities (Kaomea, 2001; Smith, 1999). They have underscored the need for identification and establishment of 'positionality' of the researcher as he/she undertakes research (Sultana, 2007; Kaomea, 2001; Smith, 1999). Troyna (1994), however, questioned use of 'empower and voice' calling for more clarification, suggesting a more modest and honest mode of inquiry (p. 20).

Any researcher, using any paradigm of investigation/research, brings to that project a value system (Abraham, 2006; Pring, 2000). (Rokeach, 1973 as cited in Greebanks, 2003) provided a schema for analyzing 'values'-moral, competency, personal and social ideals. Greenbanks (2003) opined that social values, which include political and educational beliefs and objectives, impacted a researcher's attitudes and behaviours, and hence, his/her approach to research.

Qualitative education research, focusing on social and cultural phenomena i.e. the study of people in their natural environment, offers different perspectives to the research process because of its flexibility. (Flyvbjerg, 2001 as cited in Eisenhart, 2005) opined:

It is often more important to clarify the deeper causes behind a given problem and its consequences than to describe the symptoms of the problem and how frequently they occur. (p.78).

Eisenhart (2005) suggested that qualitative studies were likely to offer more, in terms of observations interpretations and deeper meanings, than quantitative studies, to scientific research in education (p. 55). Joubish, M. F., Khuram, M. A., Ahmed, Fatima, S. T., & Haider, K. (2011) described qualitative research as an interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary and sometimes cournterdisciplinary field; which is inherently political, and is shaped by multiple ethical and political positions (p. 2083). The researcher and the researched are, therefore, in a symbiotic relationship; but more significantly, the observations, interpretations, reflections, relationships and associations formed during (and after) the research can, (and do) allow for, the 'empowerment' and 'voice' which (Kaomea, 2001 & Smith, 1999) identified. The researcher, therefore, cannot alienate himself/herself from the research and so must declare his/her positionality (Sikes, 2004; Kaomea, 2001; Smith, 1999) in a clear and transparent manner.

Sikes, in Opie with Sikes et. al (2004), asserted positionality was related to the researcher's philosophical position and assumptions about social reality, nature of knowledge, human nature and agency, and value system (the researcher's ontological, epistemological and axiological positions respectively). Sikes opined that these assumptions were influenced by, for instance, political allegiance, religious faith and experiences which were a function of social class, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, historical and geographical location. These ideas seriously influenced researchers' 'world view', which impact their understandings, beliefs and values, and hence, influenced the research paradigm they use for individual research. Sikes (2006) suggested that a researcher decisions at an individual level were influenced by his/her reflexivity, identity, values and ethics. Researchers' values, therefore, significantly affected their choice of research methodology, whether quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods (Joubish, et al., 2011; Williams, 2007).

Article 1

Fournillier, J. B. (2009). Trying to Return Home: A Trinidadian's Experience of Becoming a "Native" Ethnographer Qualitative Inquiry, 15, (4) 740-765.

Fournillier discussed her experience in becoming a native ethnographer, investigating Trinidad's mas teaching-learning activities from the perspectives of mas making in mas camps, her interaction with native knowledge 'gatekeeps' in the mas community, and the complications of field work in native settings (Kaomea, 2001; Smith, 1999). She identified the struggles with self and the 'other'-multiple identities which were exposed in the research. She also identified the interpretations and adaptations of concepts of history in person, home, place and displacement, 'world-traveller' and 'arrogant perception' (Sultana, 2007; Lugones, 1994). Fournillier analysed how her positionality (values) impacted on her knowing, doing and becoming a member of a community of researchers, allowed her to become a native ethnographer (p. 741).

Fournillier brought values and ethics to her research from a native ethnographic context (Eisenhart, 2001); writing/researching from a post modernist, interpretivist, subjectivist, feminist framework (Sikes, 2006; Koamea, 2001; Pring, 2001; Smith, 1999; Robson, 1997). In doing so, she dealt with the multiple notions of self and the 'other.' She recognised how her history, as a person, impacted the methodology and methods used in her research- interviews, documents and texts, including observation and participant observation (fieldwork), and researcher's impressions and reactions (Myres, 1997; Peters, 2004; Eisenhart, 2001). Fournillier indicated that her training in European-American discourse alone, could not suffice as a researcher, in a local context. She had to adapt and adopt multi-positions within the research process; if only to gain new insights and knowledge about the subject and people she was researching; more critically, she had to humble herself and gain their trust and approval (p.760).

Guba and Lincoln (1994) identified four underlying "paradigms" for qualitative research: positivism, post-positivism, critical theory, and constructivism. Myers (1997) opined that qualitative research may or may not be interpretive, and suggested that qualitative research methods may be nomothetic-concerned with the discovery of general laws or idiogrphic-concerned with the uniqueness of each situation. He also indicated that qualitative research may be concerned with prediction and control or explanation and understanding. Thus the research/researcher may be described as etic-taking an outsider position or emic-taking an insider position; all of these approaches being contingent on the researcher's values and ethics. In Fournillier's fieldwork within Trinidad's mass community, she explored that environment using the idiogrphic method while questioning her etic-outsider position and emic -insider positions; as she experienced them from the researcher's standpoint, the mas-making community standpoint, the reaction of individuals of mass making community and from those 'critical-persons' within that community of mas personnel with whom she interacted.

The first dialogue between Fournillier and the elder 'mas-man' (pp.741-742) was instructive. Fournillier's positionally, (Gallagher, 2005; Koamea, 2001; Smith, 1999) was challenged by the local mas-knowledge gatekeeper, who implicitly questioned her ethics and values as a researcher; by describing her as a colonizer, using a European framework to undertake her study (not even trying to ascertain from Fournillier, her methodological approach). He saw Fournillier as taking an etic position on the research project. Fournillier was immediately dismissed by the 'gatekeeper' as a non-empathic and culturally insensitive (my emphasis), occupying a position as western European-a colonizer, using an inappropriate framework (in his view) in her field-work/study, and not seeking the guidance or 'right of passage' of the elders (i.e. those at the centre of and in the heart of mas-making).

Koamea (2005) spoke to the need for the indigenous researcher to communicate with the elders and ask for forgiveness/direction when attempting uncharted areas of cultural research. Fournillier had to identify critical people in the mas business i.e. those who were respected in the local mas-making community. She indicated this individual had appeared on local radio programmes to discuss Trinidad's mas. There are two issues here: (a) the need to identify strategic individuals in the cultural arena, which she did, (Pat Bishop was a well respected visionary in major aspects in Trinidad's culture) and (b) the need to identify critical individuals at the operations level of the mas-making community (such as the elder at the carnival party (pp.741-742). Such individuals see themselves as local philosophers and practitioners, though not as academics, but they believe that researchers, whether local and foreign, who wish to research the mas, must consult them. By breaking this 'code', Fournillier was rebuked by the elder. As she reflected on the incident at the party, the themes of positionality, identity, feminism, privilege, disconnection, ambivalence, colonizer and ethnocentricity (Zembylas, 2003a; Eisenhart, 2001; Koamea, 2001; Smith, 1999) surfaced, whether consciously or sub-consciously. As she indicated:

I tried to identify with the community… But the elder positioned me as "you" and himself and "we" I interpreted this as positioning me on the outside. …Was I another colonizer? …I began to view myself as the "object of arrogant perception." (p.742).

In using ethnography as her choice of methodology for the study in mas, Fournillier brought to the project her competency value (Greenbanks, 2003) which was the most competent way to undertaking the study. However, this approach, while it allowed her to undertake the activity from a non-traditional, subjectivist, interpretive and post-structural paradigm; exacerbated personal, inter-personal and intra-personal conflicts with the 'self' the 'other' and the elder in the mass community.

Williams (2007) identified three (3) methodological approaches which must be used by ethnographers: 1. gain access to the site of the study; 2. establish rapport with the informants and build trust and 3., use the big net approach by intermingling with everyone in order to identify the key informants in the (mas-making) culture setting (Leedy and Ormrod, 2001). The third step was very significant and was, perhaps, the most important; since a failure to carefully identify the 'knowledge gatekeepers' in the community can lead to the type of encounters which Fournillier described with the elder masman (p. 742). The identification of key informants/elders is also supported by (Kaomea, 2001) describing the encounters with elders, as she attempted to present her findings on her research of the Hawaiian study of the elders progamme in schools.

For Fournillier, the fact that she was born in the mas-making area of Belmont, Trinidad, her familiarity with the mas environment, together with the intellectual/scholarly skills she brought to the research fieldwork, and her previous participation in the festival; provided multiply identities and mas-knowledge about the festival. However, as a researcher, and as one who was now formally interrogating mas, assuming the role of indigenous academic, (Kaomea, 2001; Smith, 1999); new tensions developed as she transitioned from role of individual mas-player, who could dance on the street, to indigenous researcher, undertaking a formal research project. Issues of trust, respect, responsibility and deception, avoidance of harm, privacy and confidentiality-ethics surfaced in this intrusive research (Glesne, 1999 as cited in Postholm and Madsen, 2006). These were value-laden issues which demanded Fournillier's response as she undertook her research project. These value/ethical issues were critical to her research process (Pring, 2003; Eisenhart, 2001; Macedo, 1999; Gallagher, 1998), especially in the context of the ethnographic approach Fournillier chose to use. She had to be a part of the research process, as indeed she was, but she also had to secure the right of passage to satisfy the mas community which she was investigating, and most importantly, she had to consider her positionality (Kaomea, 2001; Smith, 1999) and the fact that she grew up in the traditional mas-making Belmont environment.

Fournillier vividly described her experiences with Trinidad's carnival as a native, mas player and as a passionate lover of mas, as an ethnographer. In using the narrative, she positioned herself at the centre of the commentary questioning and analyzing the mas teaching-learning activities and revealing the different perspectives of the festival- carnival from an insider position, carnival from an socio-historical position, carnival from a cultural position and carnival from an investigative scholarly position-the ethnography. In doing so she faced the dilemma of positionality and questioned the 'other' (Smith, 1999), even reflecting on the uncomfortable 'self' (Pillow, 2003).

Fournillier was always at the centre of the research process. She wrote in the first person 'I':

I can still see the elder dressed in his African robes…I remembered noticing that all eyes turned on him when he entered the house (p.741). I agreed with Ahmed (2000) that home was not "a particular place that one inhabits, but more than one place"…(p.743) …I became his student who came from the United States and wanted to learn about mas-making (p.754)… I was an outsider because of what I was doing, and if I had to study mas' then I could not be a Trinidadian. (p. 755).

She reflected and reacted to multiple levels of construction/deconstruction of ideas and practices related to mass, on the rituals and rites of passage, on interpretation of socio-cultural and economic rituals related to the mas, on positionality of the 'self' and 'other' in the mas experience in her analysis of the mas teaching-learning environment, and finally, on the actions/reactions of the people in the mas. She therefore brought a range of values/ethics (Greenbanks, 2003; Fontana & Frey, 2000; Glesne, 1999) to the research on the mas teaching-learning exercise.

Fournillier grappled with the concepts of post modernity, post colonial theory, feminism, power relations and decolonization in the context of ethical participatory research (Sultana, 2007; Viruru, 2005; Eisenhart, 2001; Kaomea, 2001; Smith, 1999; England, 1994). Fournillier experienced the reaction of the mas community who questioned her motives, and from the elder, who challenged her self-efficacy and intellectual capacity to study a subject that, in his opinion, she knew little about. It was a burden she must carry and therefore questioned her construction of 'self', her 'Trinidadianess', in an attempt to re-present Trinidad's mas in ethnographic circumstances, Sikes in (Opie with Sikes et. al., 2004). Her values were implicitly and explicitly expressed in the research ideas and investigative actions because she was intimately involved in exploration/ investigation and mas learning activities. Her competency values- the best way to do this research; her instrumental values- the way she conducted herself with the mas community; her terminal values- what she wanted to accomplish for herself in this research on mas teaching and learning and her social values-her educational beliefs and objectives including her general attitude and behaviour (Greenbanks, 2003). She wrote:

It took me about 4 months of visiting mas' camps daily, working as volunteer, listening to stories, observing workers, chatting with persons to whom I was introduced and was told " this is a good person", semi-formal and informal interviews, to recognize and appreciate the subject positions the community assigned to me and that I assigned to myself…(p.755).

They would not let me forget that "I went away" and that made me become a professional stranger". p.755.

"Lady J," he asked, "you have a camera?" I nodded my head and smiled, " well bring it," he said, " you need to take pictures of the different stages and pretty soon they will be no longer this." (p. 758).

No one always said to me I should do this or that, but as a Trinidadian and …. I opted to clean the kitchen and tidy the space when necessary. (p.756).

It was in the negotiation/ understanding of those unwritten rules and codes of the mass camp that Fournillier became a member of the camp; identifying what spaces in the camp she may occupy while helping to build costumes, and simultaneously, doing her fieldwork. She demonstrated the use of values and ethics in her research. (Hopkins, 2007; Sultana, 2007; Gallagher, 2005; Nixon & Sikes, 2003). The expression of ethical concerns was inevitable even as she determined the pathways in the camp she could traverse, the perceptions of the members of her role and hers of theirs, her contributions to their mas and to her own enlightenment. Fournillier made decisions about interpretations of the stories she heard, the personal life-stories exposed by camp colleagues, whether formally told in interviews, or in informal settings, and determined how she would re-present this experience in a scholarly ethnographic context (Sultana, 2007; Sikes, 2006; Sikes, 2000). Such deliberations could not take place without reference to a value system (Greenbanks, 2003) and it was in this context that her research methodology and methods were value-laden i.e. the ethnographic frame she used to undertake her research (Hopkins, 2007; Pring, 2003; Eisenhart, 2001; Gallagher, 1998; Macedo, 1999). As she described in her reflections:

I needed to be humble and humbled and to recognize my

limitations and my need for those who knew better or more than I did about

what was needed to collect data. I discovered that it is a complex, complicated,

and muddy task but one that I can begin to accomplish if I am willing

to (a) put aside my agenda and truly listen to the voices of those who know,

(b) expect the unexpected, (c) be open and willing to become the "worker" at

one time, leader at another, and learner/student ethnographer at yet another,

and (d) enter into dialogue with the text, self, and Other. Yes, I had the final

say as re-presented in the findings. But there was always the consideration of

"when they read what I write" (Brettell, 1993) can I live with myself. (p.760).

As a native ethnographer, Fournillier was intimately involved in this project by becoming a novice/apprentice/learner (p.756). She brought her competency values as a native, a mas-player, an academic and a research scholar using an ethnographic inquiry/narrative to explore Trinidad's mas. The ethics/ value concept is implied in this research project based on the qualitative, interpretive methodology, and methods she used-fieldwork involving interviews, observations and volunteer labour while spending four (4) months with the mas camp community. Fournillier as a researcher, could be not be detached from her research; she brought a 'value system'-moral, competency, personal and social to the exercise (Greenbanks, 2003) as she expanded the knowledge-base of Trinidad's mas by practicing in the costume-building as she observed and interpreted the social, cultural and economic complexities of the mas.

I would argue, therefore, that Fournillier's methodology and research methods in this research project are value-laden from the perspective of the qualitative research paradigm. This is in keeping with the position taken by post-modernist, post-structuralist, interpretivist theorists (Eisenhart, 2001; Kaomea, 2001; Smith, 1999) who also argue that research cannot be value-free.

Article 2

Thompson B. P. (2010). Quality Education for All: The impact of disruptive classroom behaviour (DCB). Caribbean Educational Research Journal, 2 (1), 37-46.

Researching principally from a quantitative methodology paradigm, linked to quantitative, objectivist, empiricalist, research methods, based on questionnaires, data collection and analysis, (Castellan, 2010; Bryman, 2006; Myers, 1997) and likert scale frequency/means analysis; Thompson examined the nature, level and causes of disruptive classroom behaviour (DCB), and the impact of DCB on teaching and learning, as perceived by teachers and students in the Barbados secondary schools. She used content analysis to glean the opinions of teachers and students about causes of disruptive classroom behaviour. Thompson used a sample-size of twelve (12) secondary schools, four (4) older grammar schools and eight (8) newer comprehensive schools. (p.37).

In the first phase of her research, Thompson used a questionnaire to gather information on teachers and students perceptions on the nature and frequency of DCB, and its impact on the teaching-learning process.

Thompson's mode of research in this phase represented the modernist, positivist, empiricalist approach for investigating social phenomena. This approach is rooted in rationality and empiricalism (Sale J. M., Lohfeld, L. and Brazil, K., 2002; Mortimore, 2000). It is described as value-neutral (Hammersley and Gomm, 1997), allowing for objective analysis of the data, using deductive methods (Castellan, 2010; Williams, 2007), presenting empirical results (Davis, 1999). The underlying ontological, epistemological, and axiological assumptions the quantitative paradigm are based on one truth, independent investigator and investigated entities, objectivity, rationality, logic, deductive analysis and the independence of researcher from the research (Castellan, 2010; Mortimore, 2000). It is supposedly value-free (Denzin and Lincoln, 1994); but in the context of researcher value/s; the fundamental question remains. Can the quantitative methodology and research methods associated with this paradigm be value-free?

Abraham (1996) discussing the concept of value freedom asserted, the desire to expunge values from social scientific research has been encouraged by theorists of positivistic thinking. (p.83). He later stated political values can influence social research and the selection of research problems. He indicated that social science research should be committed to truth and accuracy (citing Weber, 1994; Keat, 1981; & Hammersley, 1995a, 1995b), with whom he agreed. Abraham (1996) opined that truth and accuracy itself, is a value (p.83). Abraham also asserted that he held the same view like Weber, Keat and Hammersley, that political values can influence social research, as well as the selection of research problems in particular, a view also held by Sikes (Opie with Sikes, et al., 2004).

If one agrees with the ideas expressed by (Abraham, 1996); Thompson's research is not value-neutral. One can then deduce the she brought competency values, personal values and social values; all of these contributing to a value-system (Greenbanks, 2003) to the research she carried out with respect to the question of disruptive classroom behaviour in secondary schools in Barbados.

In the second phase her research; sixty (60) deviant students were surveyed, using questionnaires, about their activities in relation to disruptive classroom behaviours. Thompson's research methodology focused on the use of standard quantitative research methods, including questionnaires for data gathering, data analysis, frequency tables and means analysis, with the use of a Likert scale. The means analysis was based on a perfect mean score of 5.0, with a range from (1) 'Never' to (5) 'Very often,' to measure the level and frequency of disruptive classroom behaviour. Means of 2.99 and below were considered low in occurrence (p.38). See tables 1 to 7 (pp. 39-42).

To the extent that Thompson used a positivist, rational, quantitative methodology as a major research paradigm in her project; two observations are made:

her extensive use of mathematical/frequency-means analysis in analysing and interpreting the data collected ( she used 7 tables);

her use of a single perspective in her analysis of findings throughout the research. She focused on the percentages, frequencies and mean scores to explain the causes of the students' behaviours and the perceptions of students and teachers with respect to the impact of DCB on teaching and learning.

Thompson used the traditional methods associated with the quantitative paradigm; these focused on empiricalism and objectivity, placing value on the evidence and not on any subjective interpretation of data. Thus, her focus was on the level, frequency and means of destructive classroom behaviour (pp. 39-42).

In the context of the exclusive use of quantitative methodology in educational research, there has emerged in the literature, questions about the quality of educational research in general, and about the need for the evidence-based research (Boyd, 2000; Davis, 1999). However, (Pirrie 2001) argued against the exclusive use of evidence-based research. The level of criticism of educational research, with respect to research quality, has originated from governments, local and international funding agencies and from within educational research community itself (Hammersley, 1997; Hargreaves, 1997; Hammersley, 1992). With respect to the quality of educational research and the concepts of value neutrality and/or value-freedom; Abraham (1996) argued against the doctrine of 'value-freedom' as a position which advocated, entirely, the isolation of appraisals of the validity of scientific theories from any moral or political values (p.83). There is a similar strong post-structural, indigenous humanistic, post-modernist movement which recognises the need for flexibility, and for a broader range of research methods, including the use of a mixed methods approach (Bryman, 2006), peculiar to education. Other social science disciplines use a mixed methods approach in the study/analysis of social phenomena (Biesta, 2007; Kaomea, 2001; Smith, 1999; Spivak, 1990).

Oancea (2005) identified two discourse trends which have emerged since the late 1990's. She suggested that one trend lamented the behaviour of educational research from a managerial perspective, which she called a 'big science' model of knowledge production, and an 'engineering' model of knowledge use. The other trend, she identified as attempting to defend research from the standpoint of academic freedom, using a humanistic model of knowledge transfer (pp. 157-158). These discourses have had serious implication on values in research. There have emerged concepts/descriptions of the researcher as 'technician' i.e. who solves problem/s or provide answers to public issues; and the concept of the researcher as 'public' or 'critical' intellectual, whose focus is in producing localised, transferable knowledge (p. 158). The educational researcher, therefore, researches a wide variety of social issues/phenomena in social contexts and may not necessarily perform the role of 'technician' i.e. one who simply solves problems as an engineer (Biesta, 2007).

Thompson, was performing the role of 'technician', researching the social issue-disruptive classroom behaviour, when perhaps, she should have in fact been functioning as a 'critical intellectual'; examining the social issue of disruptive classroom behaviour, in a social context. She could then utilize the range of perspectives available to her, as in the case of (Founillier 2009), who used the ethnographic narrative in her study. In using the approach she took, Thompson was in fact aligning her practice of research with the long held view that the use of the scientific method is akin to objectivity, rationality, and researcher-independence and, therefore, should yield value-neutral research results (Davis, 1999).

Hammersley (1992) suggested that there is widespread confusion with respect to the concept of value neutrality (p.136). He went on to state that the concept did not imply that research should or could be value-free. He also asserted that Max Weber, the originator of the value principle, recognised its influence and suggested that it was this recognition that led to his proposal, that social research should strive to be both value-relevant and value-neutral and suggested that an important function of research is value clarification (p.136). Hammersley (1992) asserted that there could be no idiographic or nomothetic knowledge without values. The conclusion to be drawn here is whether a positivist, constructivist or mixed-methods research paradigm is used (Bryman, 2006), research is value-laden. Carr (2000) asserted:

Researchers have always been conscious of how their values may influence how they define their research problems and how their political beliefs can affect the decisions they make about how to interpret and analyse their research findings. (p. 441).

With respect of the second observation of the single perspective in analysis which Thompson used; the need for multiple perspectives in educational research is well established. Post indigenous theorists have consistently articulated the view that traditionalist, objectivist western eurocentric research did not consider the historical, social, cultural and environmental nuances of the developing, former colonized world. They have expressed the need to give 'voice' to those been researched (Eisenhart, 2001; Koamea, 2001; Smith, 1999). It was the social context which allowed for positionality, mutual respect and the display of a range of ethics/values (Greenbanks, 2003; Fontana & Frey, 2000; Glesne, 1999) in any research project. In the same vein (Hodkinson, 2004), articulating from a similar perspective suggested that:

all academic knowledge is socially constructed. This construction is not primarily an individual activity, but is the collective working of communities of scholars, over History. (p.11).

In recognizing the community of scholars, Hodkinson is implying a social constructivist approach to research in which knowledge construction is a social process, governed by the norms and practices residing in any discipline. The researcher is therefore, building knowledge, as well as learning, and implicitly bringing individual, cultural and social values to the research. Fournillier (2009) was in fact demonstrating these ideas as expressed here by (Hodkinson, 2004) as she used a native ethnographer approach in her study of Trinidad mas teaching-learning activities from different perspectives, and hence, the transparent articulation of values in her research.

Hodkinson (2004) in this context of educational research suggested that:

educational research is a political process-with a small 'p' through the normal working in the field and a large 'P' because of the current interventions of governments. (p. 21).

He goes on to assert that he, like Hammersley (2002), was trying to influence the small 'p' while resisting the large 'P'. (p. 21).

Thompson is therefore on solid ground in her approach regarding the metaphor of the large 'P'. If her intention was to influence government's policy, it was the methodology which was more likely to receive government funding, and which yield the political value. Hodkinson (2004) opined that rationality, evidence and logic were significant in research practice. He asserted however, that rationality could not be expunged from the others-evidence and logic; nor could it secure our research or us, from our emotional, social and culturally situated selves (p. 23). This idea is also supported by the post colonial, post structuralist theorists (Kaomea, 2001; Smith, 1999; Spivak, 1990).

The narrow focus of Thompson's methodology, in this context, robbed her of the social and cultural values that she could have brought to her project on disruptive classroom behaviour and, therefore, different perspectives in investigating negative behaviour. In focusing almost exclusively on the use of mathematical (means) analysis and frequency analysis, as her prime research methods of analysis; she limited herself from the larger social and cultural contexts of the research (Viruru, 2005; Eisenhart, 2001; Macedo 1999). Her analysis of students' perceptions of teachers relied on the use of frequency and percentages analysis. She did not attempt to give researcher interpretations of their opinions, but rather commented on selected statements in each of the five (5) themes identified (pp. 42-45).

Unlike Fournillier, who was using an emic view (Chavez, 2008; Myers, 1997), central to her research and who, declared her positionality, (Kaomea, 2001; Smith, 1999; Spivak, 1990); Thompson did not, but wrote in the third person and never used the first person 'I'. She was implicitly implying a value-neutral outcome, even though she did present the actual textual perceptions of both teachers and students, with respect to their responses to the themes identified e.g. home related issues on disruptive classroom behaviour (pp. 42-43). Thompson was using an etic view (Myers, 1997) and the results of her research were intended to be value-neutral since she was independent of the phenomena been researched (Davis, 1999).

Thompson's use of teacher student surveys on classroom disruptive behaviour focused on forty-nine (49) specific disruptive behaviours divided into nine (9) categories presented in Table 1 (p. 39). This was a traditionalist objectivist approach, underlying an epistemology, ontology and axiology that identified with value-neutrality, researcher independence and objectivity (Hargreaves, 1997; Davis, 1999) However, (Hammersley, 1992) made the point that all research was value-laden. This view was also supported by (Hodkinson, 2004; Carr, 2000). Hammersley opined that educational field work and learning was embodied, emotional, social, cultural and partly tacit (p.23). Any research in educational context/s therefore, was multifaceted and may not be linear as in the case of Thompson's. Hodkinson, in paraphrasing (Gadamer, 1979) stated:

method cannot ensure truth, for truth and knowledge formation entail interpretation, by individuals and by wider research communities collectively. (p. 23).

In citing (Flybjerg, 2001) who opined that the strength and value of educational research, of any type, lies in the quality of the interpretations made; (Hodkinson, 2004) also indicated that interpretations rely implicitly on our understanding of prior knowledge, also from the findings of empirical investigation. To improve the educational research quality, he sees as a vital and first step, the need to challenge the dominance of positivistic or empiricalist views of research and the primacy of objectivist methods (p. 23). This view is also well supported in the educational research environment by a number of researchers (Viruru, 2005; Eisenhart, 2001; Kaomea, 2001; Macedo, 1999; Smith, 1999; Spivak, 1990).

In this context therefore, the values a researcher brings to any research activity is derived from the different approaches used and decisions made (Sikes, 2006; Greenbanks, 2003); and I am inclined to speculate, Thompson might have derived more value from her research by applying different perspectives to her methods of investigation (perhaps a better mixture of both qualitative and quantitative approaches). She was in fact investigating a social phenomena (disruptive classroom behaviour), a feature which required both subjective and objective analyses.


From the ongoing discussion on value/ethics in research, there are strong lobbies for both the qualitative and quantitative methodologies. The hard sciences theorists, focus on natural/physical phenomena, and emphasise the positivist, objectivist, rationalist approach i.e. the scientific method (Mortimore, 2000; Hargreaves, 1997). They opine that the researcher is independent of the research using logic, structured procedures and deduction to yield value-neutral results (Davies, 1999; Myers, 1997).

This approach is rejected by the post-modernist, post-structuralist, indigenous researchers (Viruru, 2005; Eisenhart, 2001; Kaomea, 2001; Macedo, 1999; Smith, 1999; Spivak, 1990).

They indicate that social science research, particularly educational research, which focuses on social phenomena, requires a revisionist, interpretative, post-colonialist, indigenous multi-perspective approach (Eisenhart, 2001); one which challenges traditional power relationships existing between the researcher and the researched; seeks to amend the relationship by developing communities of practice (Hodkinson, 2004), giving 'voice' to those who are researched. They use different epistemological, ontological and axiological assumptions (Hopkins, 2007; Nixon et al., 2003), using value-laden methods, grounded theory, case study, ethnography, phenomenology and biography (Creswell, 1994) and are central to and 'in' their research (Eisenhart, 2001). The methodologies and methods they used are value-filled. (Viruru, 2005; Eisenhart, 2001; Kaomea, 2001; Smith, 1999).

There has emerged theorists, across the social sciences research domain, who assert that all research is value/ethics bound (Postholm and Madsen, 2006; Hodkinson, 2004; Nixon and Sikes 2003; Carr, 2000; Pring, 2000; Hammersley, 1992) and who implicitly recognise that the outcome of all research- truth and knowledge, is underpinned by researcher value (Hammersley, 1992). Some researchers prefer a mixed methods approach (Feinberg, 2009; Tashakkore and Creswell, 2007; Bryman, 2006; Sale et al., 2002). They explicitly agree that methodologies and methods are value-bound, and therefore, cannot be value-free, regardless of the research paradigm used (Nudzor, 2009; Greebanks, 2003; Nixon & Sikes, 2003; Carr, 2000; Gallagher, 1998). These researchers assert all research must involve consideration of value/ethics and hence, cannot be value-free.

Finally, with respect to the original assertion given in this assignment- Research methodologies and methods cannot be value free, three statements are made:

Arguing from a rationalist, positivist, logical objectivist, quantitative paradigm perspective, I assert that research methodologies are idealistically value-free; i.e. they are an ideal to which research practitioners strive. In reality, because researchers bring their values/ethics (Greenbanks, 2003) to any research; they are governed by their epistemological, ontological and axiological position (Nixon & Sikes, 2003). The

researchers' positionality, influence philosophical position and assumptions about social reality, nature of knowledge, human nature and agency, and impact their value-system, Sikes in (Opie with Sikes et al., 2004), which in turn impact their 'worldview'. Researchers therefore, can never separate themselves from their research. (Boyd, 2000).

Arguing from a post colonial, post modernist, post structuralist, interpretivist, indigenous perspective, qualitative paradigm, I assert that research methodologies and methods cannot be value-free (Eisenhart, 2001; Kaomea, 2001; Macedo, 1999; Smith, 1999; Spivak, 1990).

Arguing from a 'new orthodoxy' (Hodkinson, 2004: p. 9), revisionist, humanistic, emancipatory, mixed methods, researcher/researched perspective, I assert that research methodologies and methods cannot be value-free and are in fact value-laden.