Building students or building theories? Examination of the role of theory in education research

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper presented at Conference (not in Proceedings)


    Over the last decade, research studies in education have been attracting a lot of criticism from a variety of stakeholders, including the researchers themselves. The central point of this critique is the intellectual stagnation that has crept into the field together with the comfort that comes from using theory in ways that limit, rather than expand, our understanding of the complexity of factors that impact on and interact with the learning process. This also includes our understanding of students as persons, not a “site” for both practice and theory. The culture of research affects the culture of research training and research examination practices, which, in turn, shape how new academics envision the future of education that they then communicate in their teacher preparation courses. Getting it “right” is important if education research is to serve the children that it “studies”. The key task of this paper is to focus on the role of theory in education research, address the critique of education research in this regard, demonstrate and discuss examples of research that validate this critique, and offer an alternative to current mainstream paradigms that is both challenging and exciting, while also slowly building its own evidence base.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2018


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