Research Paradigm And Components Of Psychological, Educational And Social Research Approaches

Research Paradigm 

Components of Research Approach

There are at least two important components in each definition that the research approach involves different philosophical assumptions and methods or procedures.  A broad research approach is a plan for conducting a study, which involves the intersection of research design philosophy, and specific methods.

To reiterate, in research planning, the researcher needs to think through the assumptions of the philosophical worldview in research namely the research design related to the research paradigm, and the specific research methods or procedures that translate the approach in research.

Research Philosophy Perspective

Although philosophical ideas remain largely hidden in research (Slife & Williams, 1995), there are still many influential researchers who conduct research and need to be identified.  Creswel (2014) suggests that individuals who prepare research plans make explicit researcher support, i.e. larger philosophical ideas that can support research.

In reviewing a study, the research should be able to include the following sections:

  1. Philosophical perspective proposed in the research
  2. Definition of the basic ideas of the research itself
  3. How to research orientation in making a research approach

A research paradigm is a general philosophical orientation about the nature of research that a researcher brings to a study.  This view emerges based on the orientation of the discipline, the tendencies of the student advisor/mentor, and past research experience.  The types of beliefs individual researchers hold based on these factors will often lead to qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods approaches in their research.

Although there is an ongoing debate about the worldviews or beliefs that researchers bring to the investigation.  Creswel (2014) explains that there are four research paradigms that are often discussed in various literature, namely: postpositivism, constructivism, transformative, and pragmatism.

1.     The Postpositivist Research Paradigm

Postpositivist assumptions have represented traditional forms of research, and they are more applicable to quantitative research than qualitative research.  This perspective is sometimes called the scientific method or conducting scientific research.  It is also called positivist/postpositivist research, empirical science, and postpositivism.

2.     Constructivism Research Paradigm

Constructivism or social constructivism (often combined with interpretivism) is usually seen as a qualitative research approach.  Social constructivism believes that individuals seek an understanding of the world in which they live and work.  Individuals develop subjective meanings from their experiences meanings that are directed at specific objects or things.  These meanings are varied and varied, leading researchers to seek complexity of views rather than narrowing meaning into a few categories or ideas.

Crotty (1998) identified the following assumptions of constructivism research:

  1. Humans construct meaning when they engage with the world they interpret.  Qualitative researchers tend to use open-ended questions so that participants can share their views.
  2. Humans engage with their world and understand it from their historical and social perspectives we are all born into a world of meaning bestowed on us by our culture.  Thus, qualitative researchers seek to understand the context or setting of participants through visiting these contexts and collecting information personally.  They also interpret what they find, interpretations shaped by the experience and background of the researchers themselves.
  3. The basic generation of meaning is always social, arising in and out of interaction with human communities.  The qualitative research process is largely inductive;  The questioner generates meaning from the data collected in the field.

Paradigms Components

This philosophical worldview focuses on the needs of groups and individuals in our society who may be marginalized or disenfranchised.  Therefore, theoretical perspectives can be integrated with philosophical assumptions that construct a picture of the issues being studied, the people to be researched, and the changes needed, such as feminist perspectives, racial discourse, critical theory, queer theory, and disability theory.

 JVIertens (2010) summarizes the following transformative research paradigm:

  1.  The importance of studying the lives and experiences of various traditionally marginalized groups.  Of particular concern to these diverse groups is how their lives have been constrained by the oppressor and the strategies they use to resist, challenge, and subvert these boundaries.
  2.  In studying the diversity of these groups, research is focused on inequalities based on gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic class which results in asymmetric power relations.
  3.  Research in the transformative worldview links political and social action to these injustices.
  4. Transformative research uses the theory of program beliefs about how programs work and why problems of oppression, domination, and power relations exist.

Pragmatic Research Paradigm

Another position regarding the research paradigm is that of a pragmatist.  Pragmatism comes from the work of Peirce, et al (Cherryholmes, 1992), For many people, pragmatism is a research paradigm that arises from actions, situations, and consequences rather than research

As a philosophical foundation for mixed methods research methods, Morgan (2007 Tashakkori and Teddlie (2010) explain how important it is to focus attention on aspects of the research problem and then use a pluralistic approach to gain knowledge about the research problem.

Cherryholmes (1992), and Morgan (2007), in their perspective, explain that the pragmatism research paradigm provides a philosophical basis for research, namely:

  1. Pragmatism is not tied to a single system of philosophy and reality.  This applies to mixed methods research where researchers draw independently of quantitative and qualitative assumptions when they engage in their research.
  2. The individual researcher has the freedom of choice.  In this way, researchers are free to choose research methods, techniques, and procedures that best suit their needs and objectives.
  3. Pragmatists do not see the world as an absolute unity.  In the same way, mixed methods researchers look to many approaches to collecting and analyzing data rather than subscribing to just one way (eg, quantitative or qualitative).
  4. The truth is what works at the time.  It.  no.  based on a duality between realities that do not depend on the mind or in the mind.  So, in mixed methods research, the researcher uses both quantitative and qualitative data as they work to provide the best understanding of the research problem.
  5. Pragmatic researchers look at what and how to do research based on desired consequences and where they want to go with it.  Mixed methods researchers need to set goals for their mixing, the reasons why quantitative and qualitative data need to be mixed in the first place.
  6. Pragmatists agree that research always takes place in social, historical, political, and other contexts.  In this way, mixed methods studies can include a postmodern turn, a theoretical lens that reflects social justice and political goals.
  7. The pragmatists believe in an external world that is independent of the mind and which is lodged in the mind.  But they believe that we need to stop asking questions about reality and the laws of nature (Cherryholmes, 1992).  “They just want to change the subject” (Rorty, 1983, p. Xiv).
  8. Thus, for mixed methods researchers, pragmatism opens the door to different methods, different worldviews, different assumptions, and different forms of data collection and analysis.


Creswell, J. W. (2014).  A concise introduction to mixed methods research.  SAGE publications.

Ishtiaq, M. (2019).  Book Review Creswell, JW (2014).  Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.  English Language Teaching, 12(5), 40.

Clark, V. L. P., & Creswell, J. W. (2014).  Understanding research: A consumer's guide.  Pearson Higher Ed.

Creswell, J. W. (2014).  The selection of a research approach.  Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approach 3-24.

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