Expanding Paradigms for Educational Research: From Social Science to Humanities-Oriented Approaches

Public lecture by Professor Lynn Fendler, College of Education, Michigan State University, USA.

In this lecture, I call for the importance of a humanities-oriented research, which include epistemologies of philosophy, literary theory, jurisprudence, rhetoric, history, and the arts. Most educational research can be classified within social science paradigms, that is, aligned with epistemologies and methodologies of psychology, sociology, economics, political science, and anthropology. According to the American Educational Research Association (AERA, 2006), empirical social science research should be evaluated on the basis of sufficiency of warrants and transparency of the report. Most social sciences undertake truth-seeking endeavors in which language is used in its representational function, that is words are pointers to concepts and other things.

I am especially interested in humanities-oriented research particularly along these four dimensions:

  1. Providing contrasts with the social sciences and thereby helping us become aware of limitations to our ways of thinking.
  2. Raising questions about educational values, ethics, and aesthetics that are often excluded from the social sciences.
  3. Calling attention to language as material (not just representational).
  4. Expanding the range of voices that participate in educational debates so that social science assumptions do not function as gate-keeping parameters.

Lynn Fendler is invited by Section of Education at the Department of Communication.

Further information, please contact Bjørn Hamre or Gerd Christensen.