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Educational and Social Research

There are certain distinct sets of thoughts and concepts which include research methods and theories that contribute to the field of educational and social research. Educational researchers can now comfortably provide theoretical empirical evidence of the ways in which past curriculums and assessment regulations unduly restrict learning and teaching as well as research activities in learning institutions (Marsh & Furlong, 2010). This section discusses the positivist and the interpretive paradigms in the field of educational and social research.

To start with, positivity adheres to the perspective that only ‘factual' skills gained through observation which may be in terms of measurements, is trustworthy. In addition, the researcher's role is usually limited to the collection of data and interpretations in an objective way. The findings in the research are quantifiable and observable which leads to statistical analyses. In most cases, positivist paradigm involves quantitative methodology, using experimental methods and coming up with data (Ellis et al., 2011). Researchers are external to the region under study and are the controllers of the research activities. For instance, in the proposal, literature and studies in the context of educational and social research will be collected as well as questionnaire issues to 30 female preschool principals and teachers in Mubarak Al-Kabeer governorate in Kuwait to confirm the reliability and validity of the study. The ontology of the study will be realism, the quantitative methodology will govern the research process with the generation of empirical data and the epistemology will be objective. Data will be measurable and statistically analyzed.


On the other hand, the interpretive paradigm also known as humanistic paradigm came into existence in the 1970s and was strongly influenced by anthropology (Lindlof & Taylor, 2017). The epistemology of this paradigm is intersubjective-knowledge construction. It makes efforts to understand the subject being discussed so as to speak and interpret what the ‘subject’ is thinking. In this approach, the theory does not proceed research though it follows it so that it can be included in the data generated by the activities of the research. This means that data is gathered and analyzed in a way that it is ground with the existing theory (Denscombe, 2008). This paradigm usually assumes subjectivist epistemology, naturalist methodology, relativist ontology, and balanced axiology. Subjectivist epistemology indicates that the researcher makes their data meaning through their own thinking and cognitive process data which is usually informed by their interactions with participants. This means that researcher constructs knowledge socially from personal experience in real life situations. Relative ontology means that one believes that the study has multiple realities and the realities can be explored and a meaning made out of them (Shon, 2015). For example, in the research proposal, the study will be conducted on existing literature and studies and later an interview through a questionnaire conducted. This indicates the existence of multiple realities which need to be confirmed.

In conclusion, paradigms on educational and social education usually have ontology, epistemology, axiology which impact the methodology that is used in research. The choice of paradigm in research implies that research in this field will be nested in particular epistemology, axiology, and ontology.

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  • Denscombe, M., 2008. Communities of practice: A research paradigm for the mixed methods approach. Journal of mixed methods research, 2(3), pp.270-283.
  • Ellis, C., Adams, T.E. and Bochner, A.P., 2011. Autoethnography: an overview. Historical Social Research/Historische Sozialforschung, pp.273-290.
  • Lindelof, T.R. and Taylor, B.C., 2017. Qualitative communication research methods. Sage publications.
  • Marsh, D. and Furlong, P., 2002. A skin, not a sweater: Ontology and epistemology in political science. Theory and methods in political science, 2, pp.17-41.
  • Shon, P.C., 2015. How to read journal articles in the social sciences: a very practical guide for students. Sage.

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