Research as a Scientific Inquiry and Approaches to Educational Research (Research as a Scientific)

Approaches to Educational Research (Research as a Scientific) Inquiry As per perceived knowledge, the scientific inquiry may be defined as searching knowledge using  three  fundamental  steps a collection  of  data  through  recognized  and  established methods, its analysis, and meaningful interpretation. Every inquiry has to have a purpose.

Scientific inquiry also has a purpose the purpose is to explain various natural phenomena, understand the co-relationships among these, and use the understanding to forecast and influence certain desirable behavioral changes.

In the existing literature available on science and scientific inquiry, there is no mention of any universally accepted description of the elements of scientific inquiry.

However, the scientific process have been described in terms of some of the interrelated principles of inquiry like posing questions that can be investigated empirically; using methods that allow for investigation of the research question;

providing an orderly and explicit chain of reasoning; replicating and generalizing across studies; link- ing research to pertinent theory; and disclosing research to encourage scrutiny and critique. Developing the educational knowledge foundation is one of the main goals of research as a scientific inquiry in the field of educational research.

Research as a scientific inquiry involves describing and examining the phenomena and their relationships precisely and more importantly, testing the causality of the relationship among phenomena.

Approaches to Educational Research

It is commonly alleged that methodological education lacks a single and appropriate method to study it. In fact, the nature of education is such that it does not allow having a single method to study education and educational phenomenon.

There are three basic approaches to educational research positivism, interpretivism, and critical theory. The positivist paradigm is generally perceived as the scientific paradigm of research. The practitioners of this paradigm assume that any reality could be observed.

In the positivist paradigm of educational research, the aim is to prove or disprove a hypothesis and conducting the research using the scientific method.

The Positivist paradigm has its own philosophical (ontological and epistemological) assumptions. Its ontological assumptions delineate that reality is peripheral to the educational researcher and is symbolized by objects in space; the meaning of these objects remain independent of any consciousness of their existence and reality can be encapsulated by human senses and consequently predicted.

As outlined by the indicators of epistemological assumptions, the methodology of natural sciences should be used to study social and educational reality. Truth can be attained on the premise that knowledge lies on a set of indisputable truths, is objective, and can be obtained deductively from a theory or hypothesis.

The Role of Theory

At this stage in the discussion, a statement about theory is appropriate. To many people, the term theory suggests an ivory tower, something unreal and of little practical value. On the contrary, a theory establishes a cause-and-effect relationship between variables with the purpose of explaining and predicting phenomena.

Those who engage in pure research devote their energies to the formulation and reformulation of theories and may not be concerned with their practical applications. However, when a theory has been established, it may suggest many applications of practical value. John Dewey once said that there was nothing more practical than a good theory.

Theories about the relationship between the position of the earth and other moving celestial bodies were essential to the successful launching and return of manned space vehicles. Theories of the behavior of gases were essential to the development of refrigeration and air conditioning.

Controlled atomic energy could not have been achieved without the establishment of theories about the nature of mass and energy and the structure of the atom. The real purpose of scientific methods are prediction, the discovery of certain theories or generalizations that anticipate future occurrences with maximum probability.

Underlying Assumptions of Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches

Every paradigm of research has certain assumptions on the basis of which it operates. These assumptions guide the specific research activity undertaken in its domain. As per perceived perception, there are two broad approaches in the field of education—quantitative and qualitative.

Quantitative approach

Approach Quantitative the approach is based on the assumptions that there exists an external universe that human beings may know; events in the universe are determined by a finite set of causes, and the essential elements of events will recur (McMillan, 1996). 

These three fundamental assumptions guide and decide the goals, key concepts, design, and so on, which are adhered to as referent  points  in  conducting  the  research  in  the  field  of  education  using a quantitative approach.

Quantitative research must include many subjects representative of the groups from which they are selected. Probabilistic sampling techniques like random sampling, stratified random sampling, etc., need to be used to select the subjects. It is also assumed that qualitative studies would use numerical data, gathered from tests, surveys, structured observations, or interviews at fixed times (e.g., before or after tests), and analyze it statistically. 

In such studies, the researcher is expected to remain detached and observe events objectively. They should maintain distance from the subjects. In the quantitative context of the research, it is assumed that quantitative researchers should direct and run the setting to ensure that the variables of interest are cut off and extraneous variables are kept under control.

Qualitative approach

The qualitative approach assumes that there is no one's own knowledge of something things that can be accessed by human consciousness and that can be explored by humans have experience of reality and describe it appropriately (McMillan, 1996). 

These three main assumptions guide and define the main objectives, concepts and designs used in conducting research in education using a qualitative approach. With regard to objectives, qualitative approaches to research define sound theory, develop understanding, explain multiple realities, or encapsulate naturally occurring behaviors.

Qualitative research uses some commonly used terminologies like naturalistic, field research, ethnographic, phenomenological, anthro- biological, ecological, interpretivistic, and constructivism. Subjects with distinct traits of interest should be included by the researcher

Being selected by probabilistic sampling techniques (i.e., purposeful sampling), often the subjects do not project the typical characteristics of the group it represents. Narrative data (i.e., text) gathered from observations, interviews, or reviews of documents or artifacts over a considerable duration need to be used in qualitative studies. Qualitative researchers are categorized as participating observers. 

By establish- ing a close and trustworthy relation with the participants, qualitative researchers need to responsibly scrutinize and report data depicting the subject’s perspectives. As far as the context of the qualitative approach is concerned, it is assumed that qualitative approach should be adopted and the phenomena should be observed in a naturalistic context, that is, events should take place in a natural set-up.

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