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Open Access Publications from the University of California

How Objective is Objectivity? A Critique of Current Trends in Educational Research

  • Author(s): Van Heertum, Richard
  • et al.

This paper explores the question of objectivity, focusing considerable attention on its explicit and implicit goals. It engages the critiques of positivism and objectivity from a variety of theoretical lenses including critical theory, poststructuralism, critical pedagogy, postcolonialism and feminism. It then explores recent trends in educational research that tend to fit within the positivist framework, including the recent National Research Council report Scientific Research in Education. It concludes by offering an alternative vision of critical educational research, where objectivity is abandoned as a goal and standpoint theory and critical hermeneutics are combined to create a more reflexive, phenomenological and dialogical epistemology founded on clear ethical and political positionality.

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