unique persons, or numbers

i believe there is no absolute answer to this, but it is a common argument between qualitative vs. quantitative researchers in the field of education. was reading Chapter 17 on Case Study, and saw the following sentence:

“…in the study of human affairs, there appears to exist only context-dependent knowledge, which thus presently rules out the possibility for social science to emulate natural science in developing epstemic theory, that is, theory that is explanatory and predictive.” (Bent Flyvbjerg, 2011, p.302)

source: Flyvbjerg, B. (2011). Case study. In Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (4th ed., pp. 301-316). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

this view basically represents my (world)view of our learners, as a teacher and teacher educator. every person has an unique sociocultural-historical background. while our individual experiences may overlap, it is unique from person-to-person, either as a learner or as a person. we are not factory products that can be standardised nor serial-numbered. in short, claiming representations or meanings in numbers where learners are concerned, is probably short of the full-er story.

story photo
(acknowledgement: photo by pompi)

critical realism critical realist

“The critical realism is critical because researchers accept that their investigations are fallible, and stress the importance of a critical examination of values and facts. For critical realists, knowledge is gained through neither induction nor deduction but by a process of explanation of a phenomenon at deeper levels. As we gain knowledge, we constantly revise previous knowledge and understsandings.” (Hartas, 2010, p.41)

Patomaki and Wight (200:224, as cited in Hartas, 2010) summarize critical realism as:
– An ontological realism (there is a reality,, which is differentiated structured and layered, and independent of mind)
– An epistemological relativism (all beliefs are socially produced and hence potentially fallible)
– A judgemental rationalism (despite epistemological relativism, it is still possible, in principle, to provide justifiable grounds for preferring one theory over another)

Hartas, D. (2010). Educational research and inquiry: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.