Myth & method : a critique of educational research.
This thesis represents an attempt to develop a systematic critique of various forms of
educational research, contemporary and historical. Much has been written on educational research,
some of it critical of individual elements or styles, but little by way of the overt establishment of
a set of criteria which is then applied to an understanding and critique of major forms of
educational research, quantitative and qualitative, macro and micro. In this thesis, I attempt to
develop such a set of criteria, to be drawn variously from selected literature in contemporary
philosophy of science, and social theory and critique, which may then be so applied.
The structure of the thesis, then, is to initially develop and justify a set of criteria. This is
followed by an examination of dominant strains of educational research in the nineteenth century
and earlier, according to these criteria. Subsequently, these same criteria are applied to various
more contemporary forms of educational research such as functionalism, ethnomethodology and
phenomenology. In each case the genealogy, and basic assumptions are traced. Further, the
application of the criteria allows a critique of shortcomings or biasses in each to be developed.
For example functionalist assumptions with regard to socia change, and unilinear development are
criticized, as also its normative orientation, and dependence on a misconceived biological analogy.
Phenomenology and ethnomethodology are both criticized for their failure to embrace macro
structures and concerns, and their dependence on an isolated and subjectivist ontology and
epistemology. The thesis concludes with some recommendations for more satisfactory forms of
research in education, and some examples of existing research which fulfil the criteria developed
herein more, or less, satisfactorily.