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EDUC 900: Doctoral Seminar (F08)
Queen's University

Seminar Theme: Meta-Theoretical and Methdologic Issues in Educational Research

Professor: James Scott Johnston.
Office # A318 Duncan McArthur Hall
Phone #: 78395
Email address: scott.johnston@queensu.ca
Office hours: TBA

Course Description:

This course introduces the historical, philosophical, and sociological background of selected research quandaries: a) the role of theory in science and social science; b) research paradigms in science and social science; c) understanding vs. explanation in the social sciences, and; d) the quantitative-qualitative divide. We shall use ‘classic’ works in the fields of history of science, sociology, philosophy of science, social science, and education to navigate our way through the questions. Likely topics include; the limitation of one’s research framework according to existing social science theories: issues of validity within one’s qualitative research design; the question of explanation or causal attribution to one’s research findings; or critical interrogation of the epistemological and/or ideological assumptions of one’s research program.

Readings will include selections from historiography of science (Thomas Kuhn, Imré Lakatos), philosophy of science and social science (Carl Hempel, Hans Reichenbach, Karl Popper, Peter Winch, Charles Taylor), sociology (Max Weber, Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, Sandra Harding), as well as education (Yvonne Lincoln, Patti Lather, James Paul Gee, Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, D.C. Phillips, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray).

Course Materials:

Copy pack available at University Bookstore

Note: We are unlikely to read the entire copy pack. I will rank the articles in order of priority as we work through the term. Articles we are unable to read are nevertheless valuable, and should be used as supplementary material for seminar presentations.

Assignments:

There are two assignments for this course. The first is a mini-presentation led by a student. After a brief review of the author’s arguments, a specific issue or problem in the reading is addressed and this opens the discussion. The second is leadership of a seminar discussing in detail, student research in relation to one or more of the topics covered in the class. Possible topics include the limitation of one’s research framework according to existing social science theories: issues of validity within one’s qualitative research design; the question of explanation or causal attribution to one’s research findings; or critical interrogation of the epistemological and/or ideological assumptions of one’s research program. These seminars will last approximately 45 minutes and will draw theoretically from the course readings and practically from the students’ research

The classes are presented in seminar format: Attentive reading of the texts is stressed and the discussions will lend towards the practice and policies these may/do, require.

Grading:

This course is pass/fail. Criteria for a pass include
a) Successfully presenting a seminar of approximately 45 minutes’ length on a topic of the student’s choosing (to be discussed with instructor). These will be presented at the end of the term.
b) a mini-presentation of approximately 15 minutes length on a pre-assigned topic
c) participation in class discussions

Class One: Introduction, syllabus, greetings, discussion of readings and assignments

Topic One: Theory in Science and Social Science Research

Class Two: Theory in Science

C. Hempel. Theories and Theoretical Explanation. In Philosophy of Natural Science. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1966.

K. Popper. The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Chapter 2. London: Routledge, 2002.

P. Suppes: What is a Scientific Theory? In Philosophy of Science Today. Ed. Sidney Morgenbresser. New York: Basic Books, 1981.

Class Three: Theory in Social Science (Begin mini-presentations)

K. Popper. The Poverty of Historicism. London: Routledge, 1961. 143-159.
.
C. Geertz. Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture. In The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books. 1973.

G. Kneller. Positivism. In Movements of Thought in Modern Education. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1984.

Topic Two: Research Paradigms: From Post-Positivism to the Sociology of Knowledge

Class Four: Post-Positivism

K. Popper. The Aim of Science. In Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.

K. Popper. The Poverty of Historicism. London: Routledge, 1961. 130-143.

D.C. Phillips: After the Wake: Post positivistic Educational Thought. In Educational Researcher, May 1983.

Y. Lincoln and E. Guba. Post positivism and the Naturalist Paradigm. In Naturalistic Inquiry. Newbury Park CA: Sage Publications, 1985.

Class Five: Beyond Post-Positivism: (I) the History of Science

T. Kuhn. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions 2nd Ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970.

I. Lakatos. “Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes. In Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge: Proceedings of the International Colloquium in the Philosophy of Science, London, 1965, Vol. 4. Ed. I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966.

Class Six: Beyond Post-Positivism: (2) Feminism, Poststructuralism and the Sociology of Knowledge

P. Berger and S. Luckmann. The Social Construction of Reality: An Introduction to the Sociology of Knowledge. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968.

S. Harding. Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women’s Lives. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991.

P. Lather. Fertile Obsession: Validity After Poststructuralism. In The Sociological Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 4, 1993.

Topic Three: Explanation vs. Understanding in the Social Sciences

Class Eight: Explanation: Its Role in Social Science

C. Hempel. Laws and their Role in Scientific Investigation. In Philosophy of Natural Science. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966.

M. Carnoy and H. Levin. Schooling and Work in the Democratic State. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1985.

R. Herrnstein and C. Murray. The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. New York: The Free Press, 1995.

Class Nine: Understanding: Its Role in Social Science

M. Weber: Economy and Society, Vol 1. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968.

Charles Taylor. Interpretation and the Sciences of Man. In Philosophical Papers Vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

P.Winch: The Idea of a Social Science. London: Routledge, 1958.

Y. Lincoln and E. Guba. Is Being Value-Free Valuable? In Naturalistic Inquiry. Newbury Park CA: Sage Publications, 1985.

Topic Four: The Research Divide in Education

Class Ten

The National Academies. Scientific Research in Education. Washington: National Academies Press, 2002.

P. Lather, P. Moss. Teachers College Record Special Issue, 2005; 107 (1). Introduction: Implications of the Scientific Research in Education for Qualitative Inquiry.

J.P. Gee. It’s Theories all the Way Down A Response to the Report of the National Research Council.

V.S. Walker. After Methods, then What? A Researcher’s Response to the Report of the National Research Council.

J. Willinsky. Scientific Research in a Democratic Culture: Or What’s a Social Science For?

M. Eisenhart. Science Plus: A Response to the Responses to Scientific Research in Education.

Class Eleven: Seminar Presentations (3)

Class Twelve: Seminar Presentations (3)

 

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