The Place of Research Paradigms in SoTL Practice: An Inquiry
Research paradigms constitute views that a researcher holds about (a) the nature of reality and what they can know about it (that is, ontology); (b) the potential influence of their existing ideas and values on what they want to know, how they try to get to know, and criteria they use to make judgments about knowledge (epistemology); and (c) appropriate strategies for developing and evaluating knowledge (methodology). These views may influence their conception, design, implementation, and accounts of research projects. Critical self-reflection (reflexivity) is required to recognize these views and articulate their implications for projects. As scholars of teaching and learning, we attend explicitly to these views and their implications for our projects. However, our observation of practice in the field of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in general, as documented in publications, indicates that while some colleagues attend to such views and implications, others do not. This observation prompted us to explore the extent to which journal-based accounts of SoTL projects refer to paradigm-related views and possible explanations for the attention that their authors do, or do not, give to this consideration. Explanations proposed include conceptions of SoTL, journal author guidelines and review criteria, and properties of the concept of a paradigm. Recommendations for educating new SoTL practitioners about research paradigms and their possible relevance to SoTL, based on our inquiry, are also presented.
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