The Moral Foundations of Educational Research

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2003-04-01
  • Publisher: Open University Press
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"This is a book for everyone doing educational research. It is not simply a routine provocation directed at positivists by a group of researchers advocating qualitative methods. The book makes a valuable contribution to the literature on the ethics of educational research by offering something more than opposition to the narrow utilitarian research agenda." British Journal of Educational Studies The Moral Foundations of Educational Research considers what is distinctive about educational research in comparison with other research in the social sciences. As the contributors all agree that education is always an essentially moral enterprise, discussion about methodology starts, not with the widely endorsed claim that educational research should be 'useful' and 'relevant', but with the attempt to justify and elaborate that claim with reference to its moral foundations. Determining the nature of 'usefulness' and 'relevance' is not simply a matter of focussing on impact and influence but involves a radical re-conceptualisation of the moral and educational significance of what is deemed to be 'useful' and 'relevant'. There is no argument with this emphasis on the generation of 'useful' and 'relevant' knowledge, but it is suggested that educational research requires a fuller and more rounded understanding that takes account of the moral values of those who conduct it. Educational research is grounded, epistemologically, in the moral foundations of educational practice. It is the epistemological and moral purposes underlying the 'usefulness' and 'relevance' of educational research that matter.

Author Biography

Pat Sikes works in the School of Education at the University of Sheffield. Throughout her career, the study of aspects of teachers' lives and careers through qualitative research methodologies in general and life history/narrative approaches in particular, have been the central strand of Pat's research interest and activity. She has recently published Life History Research in Educational Settings (with Ivor Goodson, Open University Press, 2001 and she is series editor of the Open University Press series Doing Qualitative Research in Educational Settings.

Jon Nixon is Head of the School of Education at the University of Sheffield. Prior to taking up his current post as Professor of Educational Studies, he held chairs in education at the University of Stirling and Canterbury Christ Church University College. He has written widely on the impact of the new management of education on teacher professionalism within the public sector and on academic professionalism within the university sector. He has also written on the institutional conditions of learning, particularly in relation to contexts of multiple disadvantage. His methodological concerns focus on educational research as a mode of public understanding. He is editor of the academic journal Teaching in Higher Education.

Wilfred Carr is Professor of Education in the School of Education at the University of Sheffield. His main research interests are in the philosophy of education, educational theory and educational research methodology. He was the Chair of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain from 1996-1999 and is currently the Executive Editor of Pedagogy, Culture and Society. He is the author (with Stephen Kemmis) of Becoming Critical: Education, Knowledge and Action Research (1986) which translated into Spanish in 1988; (with Anthony Hartnett) Education and the Struggle for Democracy (1996) and For Education: towards critical educational inquiry (1995) which was translated into Spanish in 1996 and Chinese in 1997.

Table of Contents

Introduction: reconceptualizing the debate 1(5)
Jon Nixon and Pat Sikes
1 Educational research and its histories 6(12)
Wilfred Carr
2 Towards a social history of educational research 18(14)
Gary McCulloch
3 Living research: thoughts on educational research as moral practice 32(20)
Pat Sikes and Ivor Goodson
4 The virtues and vices of an educational researcher 52(16)
Richard Pring
5 Against objectivism: the reality of the social fiction 68(18)
Pierre Bourdieu
6 Research as thoughtful practice 86(19)
Jon Nixon, Melanie Walker and Peter Clough
7 On goodness and utility in educational research 105(13)
Carrie Paechter
8 Method and morality: practical politics and the science of human affairs 118(16)
Fred Inglis
Biographical notes on contributors 134

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