EDEV_507 Week 6_2

Thank you for your comment about the potential power issue in cross-cultural research. One quotation stood out for me from Marshall and Batten (2004);

“Much western thinking is characterized by individual and universal conceptualizations and informs academic research norms, whereas the worldviews of many cultural and ethnic groups encompass collectivist and specific norms.”

This sentiment is, I believe, an accurate assessment of a key difference in western/non-western cultural outlooks and that may have a relevance in my own professional situation. Hofstede, Hofstede and Minkov (2010) is a valuable source of how we may understand differences in attitudes towards individualism and collectivism. I was, however, made to think more closely about the nature of informed consent and its relationship to power, especially in light of Hatch’s (2002) observation-cum-admonishment;

“[I]t is tempting to study what you are close to and know a lot about, but students you have taught or are supervising will respond to you and frame their actions around you in particular ways because of your role as university instructor” (Hatch, 2002, p. 47).

There seems to be two positions regarding the notion of informed consent. The first is exemplified in research methods books such as Hatch (2002), Smith (2008) and Blaxter, Hughes and Tight (2006), that treat the matter as a moral imperative, usually predicated on the necessity of avoiding harm (Oliver, 2010). Hatch, for example, claims without any attempt at justification that, “It is wrong to lie to people about what you are doing” (p. 46), instead drawing on the pragmatic implications of being truthful to gatekeepers in order to secure access to research participants. All three texts contain discussions about the problems of informing children and other potential participant groups, but decline to develop the underlying deontological assumptions that they rest their argument on.

The second position does attempt that task and deals with deeper implications of the term informed consent. Hammersley and Traianou (2012) consider, amongst other aspects, the philosophical notion of autonomy and to what degree participants are actually free to make decisions, noting that the free choice to be involved in a research programme is itself a reflection “liberal individualism, and associated ideas about the importance of autonomy” (p. 77). They argue that this represents a cultural bias, that centred on masculine individualism. Hammersley and Traianou place their discussion on autonomy on the libertarian-authoritarian and posit that “It is not sensible to be for, or against, autonomy per se. It only makes sense to be for or against specific sorts of freedom or autonomy, or to judge specific interpretations of them as more or less important than other values in particular circumstances” (p. 78, emphasis in original). In light of these assumptions, the “insider-outsider” (Collins, 1997, p. 11) practitioner-researcher needs to consider both the culture of the participants and their own and the type of autonomy being exercised and allowed, however ironic it seems to allow autonomy. This notion is construed as voluntarism and is taken up by Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2011) who add Diener and Crandall’s fuller spectrum that included competence, full information and comprehension, arguing that “If these four elements are present, researchers can be assured that subjects’ rights will have been given appropriate consideration” (p. 78). However, besides the practical impossibility of giving participants ‘full’ information (Oliver, 2010), Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2011) note that full disclosure of the research plan and purpose may impede the research itself, citing the famous Milgram experiments that would not have been possible if participants knew that they were being lied to by the researchers.

In terms of research into epistemic cognition (EC), insider research is a norm. Furthermore, the raw data to be collected is student speech output in a university setting in front of their professors. Two very influential major early theorists in EC studied students at their respective institutions: Perry (1970) at the Harvard School of Education and Baxter Magolda (1992) at Maine University. In the sense of the traditions in the field, such insider research is not considered a threat to the construct validity of defining the ontology of EC, except to the degree that self-reporting is generally viewed with suspicion in educational psychological research (Schraw, Bendixen, & Dunkle, 2002).


Baxter Magolda, M. B. (1992). Knowing and reasoning in college: Gender-related patterns in students’ intellectual development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Blaxter, L., Hughes, C., & Tight, M. (2006). How to Research (3rd ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011). Research Methods in Education. Professional Development in Education (7th ed.). Abingdon: Routledge.

Collins, P. H. (1999). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. New York: Routledge.

Hammersley, M., & Traianou, A. (2012). Ethics in Qualitative Research: Controversies and Contexts. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

Hatch, A. J. (2002). Doing qualitative research in education settings. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organisations: Software of the mind. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Marshall, A., & Batten, S. (2004). Researching Across Cultures: Issues of Ethics and Power [17 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 5(3), Art. 39

Oliver, P. (2010). The student’s guide to research ethics (2nd ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Perry, W. G. (1970). Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years: A Scheme. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Schraw, G., Bendixen, L. D., & Dunkle, M. E. (2002). Development and validation of the Epistemic Belief Inventory (EBI). In B. K. Hofer & P. R. Pintrich (Eds.), Personal epistemology: The psychology of beliefs about knowledge and knowing (pp. 261–276). Mahwa, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Smith, E. (2008). Using secondary data in educational and social research. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

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EDEV_507 Week 6_1

Thank you for pointing me in the direction of Collins (1999) and the notion of the “outsider-within” (p. 11). There do seem to be many parallels between the white professor in the Japanese faculty and the black, female academic in the U.S. tertiary institution. The concept of positionality (Lingard & Gale, 2010) requires an attention to the “historical-political-social-psychological setting[s]” (Bentz & Shapiro, 1998, p. 58) and provides a useful framework to view the possible meanings of a researcher-practitioner. Furthermore, a closer investigation of a researcher’s positionality may reveal occluded ethical issues that have the potential to undermine the validity of any research. In discussing the role of anthropologists who study cultures other than their own, Kincheloe and McLaren argue that;

“The choice is not one between modernism and post-modernism but one of whether or not to challenge the presuppositions that inform the normalising judgments one makes as a researcher” (Kincheloe & McLaren, 2005, p. 326).

What may appear prima facie different, or usual, in the actions of another culture cannot be reduced to simply to mono-cultural considerations. To do so would risk missing the meaning of those actions and have the potential to produce results that jeopardise the integrity of the research participant. Citing Clough (1992), Kincheloe and McLaren (2005) contend that “[d]ata collection must give way to rereadings of representations in every form” (p. 326) in cross-cultural ethnography but equally applicable to social science research with its resemblance to grounded theory methodology.

With this in mind, I question how the positionality of the white, male teacher (WMT) in Japan may induce ethical problems during the research process.

Collins (1999) acknowledges a sense of exclusion that black academics suffer: their male (black) counterparts are seen as occupying the intellectual territory of social and political thought, while their (white) female counterparts occupy feminism. What are equivalent positions for the WMT in Japan? Unlike Collins’ black females, WMT are certainly visible, and the prestige bestowed on WMT is a function of the degree of outsiderness: the longer a WMT stays in Japan, the lower the prestige (Wadden, 1993). The “conservatism and protectionism” (Aspinall, 2010, p. 17) in Japan promotes a distrust of  foreigners and Aspinall (2010) argues cogently that only those who have been sufficiently inculcated into Japanese ways can be allowed into the establishment. The WMT is simultaneously a symbol of Japanese globalisationand a recognition that Japan can control the west. WMTs are to bring in the knowledge of the west unadulterated, but without official sanctioning, students are at liberty to ignore that knowledge because most WMTs are given control of practical classes (i.e. not lectures) whose academic credit is often half that of the Japanese-controlled lectures (Cutts, 1997; McVeigh, 2002). Note that these last two references are dated, but in my personal experience, the sentiment is still current. Additionally, even these practical classes (often language training) are increasingly being outsourced to dispatch companies whose teaching staff are not professional language teachers or being conducted in-house by non-faculty staff (Hadley, 2015). The marginalisation of the WMT is a well-established feature of Japanese HEIs. This is hardly surprising. Kawamura (2016) used Bennett’s Developmental Model of International Sensitivity in a Japanese HEI and noted, amongst other things, that “many Japanese do not recognize foreigners as individuals and perceive them as foreigners only” (p. 14-15). Kowner (2002) found that Japanese university students do not like engaging with foreigners.

Against this background of marginalisation and (possible) dehumanisation, I must quickly add that my current Japanese colleagues treat me with the utmost respect and that I am as privy to any mechanic of power as any other. Indeed, my access to lecture courses is as flexible as I like, and I certainly do not perceive any dehumanisation. In my last position however, I suffered terribly from both being marginalised and dehumanised. But this post is getting too long and too pessimistic for today. Later I may continue with some positive aspects of being a WMT and also attempt to relate this positionality to research ethics.


Aspinall, R. W. (2010). CRR DISCUSSION PAPER SERIES Education Reform in Japan in an Era of Internationalization and Risk. CRR Discussion Papers, A3(December).

Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful Inquiry in Social Research. Sage Publications. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. http://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004

Cutts, R. L. (1997). An empire of schools: Japan’s universities and the moulding of a national power elite. Armonk: M. E. Sharpe.

Hadley, G. (2015). English for academic purposes in neoliberal universities: A critical grounded theory. Cham: Springer.

Kawamura, H. (2016). International education as intercultural communication. In J. Mock, H. Kawamura, & N. Naganuma (Eds.), Internationalization on Japanese Higher Education: Is Japanese Education Really Changing? (pp. 3–18). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Kincheloe, J. L., & McLaren, P. (2005). Rethinking Critical Theory and Qualitative Research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research (3rd ed., pp. 303–342). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Kowner, R. (2002). Japanese communication in intercultural encounters: the barrier of status-related behavior. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 26, 339–361.

Lingard, B., & Gale, T. (2010). Defining Educational Research: A Perspective of/on Presidential Addresses and the Australian Association for Research. Australian Educational Researcher, 37(1), 21–49. http://doi.org/10.1007/BF03216912

McVeigh, B. J. (2002). Japanese Higher Education as Myth. Armonk: East Gate. http://doi.org/10.1353/jjs.2004.0010

Wadden, P. (1993). A Handbook for Teaching English at Japanese Colleges and Universities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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EDEV_507 Week 6 Initial Post

I have completed a week-long class on ethics in research and had the chance to explore some new angles on this topic in relation to how I propose to study epistemic cognition in the Japanese context. Thankfully, the week’s readings and discussions did enable a (mostly) different approach from the earlier course.

Oliver’s (2010) discussion on how ethics issues has relevancy between ethnically different respondents includes a section on ethnocentrism in research (p. 108). Earlier, Oliver also examines the possible ethical implications when a single individual assumes both the role of an insider teacher and a researcher (p. 7). Although Oliver writes for the researcher who operates in an English-speaking country and his characterisations of ethnicity reflect the position of Anglo-centric cultural norms that researchers may unwittingly be promoting, both of these issues have direct relevance to my situation as an inside researcher in English in a Japanese university. Furthermor as Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2011) recognised, all countries do not utilise ethics approval in the same way, and Japan’s flavour of ethics focuses on the biomedical fields, fiscal improprieties in research grants and in having sufficient general respect for research participants (MacFarlane & Saitoh, 2008). There is no ethics approval requirement for researchers in my faculty, for example, neither is there any ethics approval board in the university for non-biomedical research.

The early studies in epistemic cognition (Baxter Magolda, 1992; Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule, 1986; Perry, 1970) have been recognised as potentially containing implicit Anglo-American biases (K. Chan & Elliott, 2004; N. M. Chan, Ho, & Ku, 2011; Hofer & Pintrich, 1997), and the original research instruments have been modified in an attempt to reflect the cultural tendencies in various settings (K. Chan & Elliot, 2000; Greene, Sandoval, & Bråten, 2016). In a Confucian heritage country like Japan (Yang, 2011), the motivation for self-actualisation may carry more implicit connections to group collective identities (Gambrel & Cianci, 2003). This contrasts with Maslow’s humanistic theory that self-actualisation reaches its pinnacle with separation from the group (Maslow, 1954), an attitude also found in Kegan’s (1982) cognitive developmental theory and Graves’ (1970) Levels of Existence whose highest levels see the individual having the ability to recognise their subjective existence as an objectively viewable social fact (Ritzer, 2011). As a long-time resident in Japan, I would contest Gambrel and Cianci (2003) on the grounds that no individual can ever be truly separate from, or in control of, the social forces that define them and that the implicit assumption that only those from the Anglosphere can understand social facts objectively is highly problematic. That argument, however, is for another day.

In terms of ethical research using quantitative questionnaire instruments, Oliver (2010) describes issues of sampling only. However, my instrument needs to acknowledge potential Anglo- (or Scotto-) bias. For example, Schommer’s (1998) Epistemology Questionnaire includes items that may contain an implicit cultural bias, or at least loaded nuances that assume different meanings in the Japanese context. Item 58 asks respondents to express the degree of agreement on a Likert-type five-point scale to the following; “I find it refreshing to think about issues that authorities can’t agree on”. The sub-culture in the US (Schommer’s sphere of activity) of anti-authority sentiment, as evidenced in conspiracy theories and in other anti-authoritarian sentiments, produces a potential meaning to this item than it can in Japan. Someone who indicates a high degree of agreement with Item 58 may be revealing to the researcher their joy in anti-authoritarianism or a cognitive appreciation of higher-order complexities in truth judgments. An item such as this may be ethically risky in Japan as it may induce some maleficence (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2011) by suggesting to respondents an attitude that can damage their (generally) collectivist and compliant positioning in regard to authority. Furthermore, as the researcher is me, an insider, this item may put pressure on respondents due to their knowledge of me as a person and as a teacher who, in the classroom, encourages appropriate critical thinking against authority. The item’s construct validity is also in jeopardy.

Space forbids a fuller discussion of how the survey instrument contains ethical issues, or how a foreigner should deal with the concerns from the opposite position that Oliver (2010) mentions, or how insider research can overcome the myriad of interpersonal problems that arise through respondents also being students and the researcher also being an easily identifiable teacher. Perhaps we can discuss these together during the week?


Baxter Magolda, M. B. (1992). Knowing and reasoning in college: Gender-related patterns in students’ intellectual development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Belenky, M. F., Clinchy, B. M., Goldberger, N. R., & Tarule, J. M. (1986). Women’s Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind. New York: Basic Books.

Chan, K., & Elliot, R. G. (2000). Exploratory Study of Epistemological Beliefs of Hong Kong Teacher Education Students: resolving conceptual and empirical issues. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 28(3), 225–234.

Chan, K., & Elliott, R. G. (2004). Epistemological beliefs across cultures: critique and analysis of beliefs structure studies. Educational Psychology, 24(2), 123–142. http://doi.org/10.1080/0144341032000160100

Chan, N. M., Ho, I. T., & Ku, K. Y. L. (2011). Epistemic beliefs and critical thinking of Chinese students. Learning and Individual Differences, 21(1), 67–77. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2010.11.001

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011). Research Methods in Education. Professional Development in Education(7th ed.). Abingdon: Routledge.

Gambrel, P. A., & Cianci, R. (2003). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Does It Apply In A Collectivist Culture. Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, 8(2), 143–161. Retrieved from http://proxy.grenoble-em.com/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxy.grenoble-em.com/docview/203916225?accountid=42864

Graves, C. W. (1970). Levels of Existence: an Open System Theory of Values. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 10, 131–155. http://doi.org/10.1177/002216787001000205

Greene, J. A., Sandoval, W. A., & Bråten, I. (2016). Handbook of Epistemic Cognition. New York: Routledge.

Hofer, B. K., & Pintrich, P. R. (1997). The Development of Epistemological Theories: Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing and Their Relation to Learning. Review of Educational Research, 67(1), 88–140. http://doi.org/10.3102/00346543067001088

Kegan, R. (1982). The evolving self: Problem and process in human development. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press.

MacFarlane, B., & Saitoh, Y. (2008). Research ethics in Japanese higher education: Faculty attitudes and cultural mediation. Journal of Academic Ethics, 6(3), 181–195. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-008-9065-9

Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and Personality (1970th ed.). Harper & Row.

Oliver, P. (2010). The student’s guide to research ethics (2nd ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Perry, W. G. (1970). Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years: A Scheme. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Ritzer, G. (2011). Sociological Theory. Sociological Theory (8th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.

Schommer, M. (1998). The influence of age and education on epistemological beliefs. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 68(4), 551–562. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8279.1998.tb01311.x

Yang, R. (2011). Self and the other in the Confucian cultural context: Implications of China’s higher education development for comparative studies. International Review of Education, 57(3–4), 337–355. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11159-011-9208-x

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EDEV_507 Week 5_4

I fully concur with your rationale supporting a more modern methodology. After all, why else would we be studying for a doctorate if not to learn about cutting edge thinking? And I could not agree more with your assertion that the driver of methodology should be the research question itself, a view that is echoed in Bazeley’s pragmatic approach of “us[ing] whichever method suits the question and the kind of data … available” (SAGE, 2015). Bazeley (SAGE, 2015) also enumerates a few other limitations on research, including time, word limits, costs and expertise, which speak well to your concerns about the need to simplify at some point. Ours is, at the end of the day, a practitioner doctorate that does not include a lengthy philosophical element.

Yet that said, I do believe that a couple of caveats can be introduced at this stage. Gray (2004) advises that in a methodology section of a thesis, the researcher should explain other possible methods of analysing qualitative data. This should be done briefly before explaining why the researcher settled on their chosen method. In this way, readers can derive a sense of purpose in the project and place their interpretation inside the given conceptual framework. So many articles omit this step as, presumably, their function is not strictly a pedagogic device to demonstrate learning as is an EdD thesis. One of the main purposes of Module 4 was to learn how to reverse engineer articles to uncover their epistemological and methodological stances. That training should be demonstrated in our thesis as well as in these forum posts, even if the articles we bring to the forum are not so explicit.

As Module 4 showed amply, epistemological stances underpin every academic article (Gray, 2004; Moses & Knutsen, 2012). And every article stands on the shoulders of knowledge makers who came before. Rather than risk shortcuts in research, it seems more reasonable to acknowledge the epistemological tradition within which a research project is placed. One or two well-placed phrases can serve this purpose very well. I would highly recommend Cunningham and Fitzgerald’s (1996) outline of epistemological stances (p. 40) and the seven basic issues that every stance needs to address. They are;

  1. Can we have knowledge of a single reality that is independent of the knower?
  2. Is there such a thing as truth?
  3. What primary test must proposed knowledge pass in order to be true?
  4. Is knowledge primarily universal or particular?
  5. Where is knowledge located relative to the knower?
  6. What are the relative contributions of sense data and mental activity to knowing?
  7. To what degree is knowledge discovered versus created?

Cunningham and Fitzgerald (1996) discuss five clusters, i.e. epistemological positions, and how these positions answer the seven questions. For qualitative research, Cunningham and Fitzgerald’s framework offers a method of comparison between how different articles position themselves in relation to knowledge and truth. Sure, there needs to be limitations in the publication of research, but much space could be saved by judiciously placing keywords that point the reader to the researcher’s underpinning belief system.


Cunningham, J. W., & Fitzgerald, J. (1996). Epistemology and Reading. Reading Research Quality, 31(1), 36–60. http://doi.org/10.1598/RRQ.31.1.3

Gray, D. (2004). Doing research in the real world. London: Sage Publications.

Moses, J. W., & Knutsen, T. L. (2012). Ways of knowing: Competing methodologies in social and political research (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

SAGE. (2015). Choosing Which Method to Use: SAGE Research Methods [Online video]. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from http://srmo.sagepub.com.liverpool.idm.oclc.org/view/choosing-which-method-to-use/SAGE.xml?rskey=jAlif0&row=1

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EDEV_507 Week 5_3

Thanks for posting an article that develops your interest in leadership pipelines. I can see readily where this paper can fit into the wider conceptual framework of your thesis development. Williams’ (2009) organisation of the paper in line with ‘deanships’ makes perfect sense given the definition of business school leadership as a reflection of the mission statement and that the dean has the most control over the school’s direction.

Two statements in the methodology section stood out to me. (1) The research did not set out to test any particular hypotheses; as such it mirrors a piece of ‘grounded research’ (Williams, 2009, p. 128), and (2) The plan was to interview all those individuals who had an influence on the development of the school during the period 1966 to 2005” (ibid.). These statements seem to be contradictory. There are a number of assumptions in (2): firstly, that those influential individuals are high ranking academics; and secondly, that the institution developed only according to the dictates of the mission statement (or at least the wishes of the dean), i.e. that ‘development’ is synonymous with structural changes directed at that level of the organisation. I do not wish to denigrate this excellent paper, but for our learning purposes here, I think that it’s important to explicate the implicit notion of historiography that focusses on the ‘great man’ perspective, an older theory of history that has largely been replaced by those that de-emphasise the impact of any single individual.

The perspective in this article avoids the view of students, of more detail at the individual level. Williams’ (2009) account is structural functionalism in the Parsonian model (Ritzer, 2011). That this perspective was implicit in the choice of interview respondent belies statement (1) because a base theory assumed in (2) is that the development of the school over the various deanships is the result of structural alterations.


Ritzer, G. (2011). Sociological Theory. Sociological Theory (8th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.

Williams, A. (2009). Leadership at the Top: Some Insights from a Longitudinal Case Study of a UK Business School. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 37(1), 127-145.

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EDEV_507 Week 5_2

Thanks for posting another medical related article. Through you, my knowledge about health is improving no end! I thought, though, that you taught accountancy. Isn’t your thesis going to be on some aspect of that? Just an observation, if I may, but it could be a worthwhile idea to use the module time to develop one’s thesis speciality as much as possible. I’m going to focus on epistemic cognition, a fact that explains the choice of articles I present here.

I have to ask my question to you directly. You state that the study by Gershwin and colleagues (2005) is a qualitative one. This judgement was arrived at because of their use of telephone interviews and interviews is a common method in qualitative studies (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2011). However, the type of questions used by Gershwin and colleagues and their purpose do not match any of the example ones of qualitative questions given by Silverman (2010). Silverman describes a contrast between the positivistic nature of survey instruments and the “emotionalist model” (p. 190) that underpins the qualitative interview. Gershwin and colleagues’ variables were known beforehand, their analysis was rigorously statistical and their instrumentation did not attempt to uncover any “point of view” or try to “get inside the heads” of respondents (Silverman, 2010, p. 191). Is it possible that Gershwin and colleagues’ (2005) study is actually a quantitative one?


Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011). Research Methods in Education (7th ed.). London: Routledge.

Gershwin, M. E., Selmi, C., Worman, H. J., Gold, E. B., Watnik, M., Utts, J., & Vierling, J. M. (2005). Risk factors and comorbidities in primary biliary cirrhosis: A controlled interview‐based study of 1032 patients. Hepatology, 42(5), 1194-1202.

Silverman, D. (2010). Doing qualitative research (3rd ed.). London, UK: Sage.

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EDEV_507 Week 5_1

I will conclude my involvement in this week’s discussion by looking at the place of theory building in qualitative research designs. I’m doing this following reflections on the week’s required resource readings with comparisons to last week’s discussion on quantitative models. Some researchers may consider qualitative designs “easier” (Laureate Online Education, 2012) than quantitative ones because of the lack of statistical skills needed. Hatch (2002) reports that some students “openly confess that they have never felt comfortable with math, especially statistics” (p. 1). However, this position fails to acknowledge both the role of statistics and the necessity for theory generation. These two aspects overlap significantly in quantitative research. I suspect that many researchers—if not most—who undertake statistical analyses cannot reproduce the underlying mathematics beyond simple arithmetical averages, standard deviations, variances and so on. The mathematics behind ANOVAs and linear regressions may be beyond many. The ready existence of statistical programmes that produce advanced statistical output make such analyses easier, and the task of researchers is limited to understanding the statistical assumptions of the tools they use (Cohen et al., 2011). I highlight this to make the point that, due to statistical software packages, quantitative models may actually be far easier than qualitative ones. Qualitative designs, especially grounded theory, often require the researcher to build theoretical models from scratch, from emerging meanings found in the data itself (Charmaz, 2006; Cohen et al., 2011; Silverman, 2010). Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2011) emphasise the need for strict content analysis and outline an eleven-step process to achieve this. However, their short exposition omits much, including the need to explicate base ontological and epistemological positions (Hatch, 2002) and a longer discussion of the iterative nature of qualitative data analysis (Charmaz, 2006).

Hadley’s (2015) grounded theory study of “blended” professionals, i.e. neither academic nor administrative staff, and their attitudes of English for academic purposes in Japanese, American and English universities presents a tripartite division of a grounded theory into initial, middle and final stages. Each stage represents a phase in the development of an emergent theory, a set of explanations that aim to fulfill Hammersley’s (1992) criteria of validity, plausibility and credibility in relation to how the collected data can match the researcher’s theory.

In other words, the sheer amount of data that interviews and other sources generate (Silverman, 2010) combined with the iterative constant comparison (to borrow a grounded theory term, but can be appropriate for other data analysis methods) and the necessity to develop a theory from the given data makes qualitative research a very tough proposition. Compare that process to a few clicks of a computer button that can generate a T-test statistic. I, for one, would find it challenging to describe succinctly and exactly how a T-test statistic worked including its underlying mathematical model of the bell curve, and that task is largely avoided in quantitative research. Its equivalent task is a necessity in qualitative research. And that makes it tough.


Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. London: Sage.

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011). Research Methods in Education. Professional Development in Education (7th ed.). Abingdon: Routledge.

Hadley, G. (2015). English for academic purposes in neoliberal universities: A critical grounded theory. Cham: Springer.

Hammersley, M. (1992). What’s Wrong with Ethnography? London and New York: Routledge.

Hatch, A. J. (2002). Doing qualitative research in education settings. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Laureate Online Education. (2012). Week 5: Qualitative Data Analysis. Educational Research Methods Weekly Notes. Laureate Online Education B.V.

Silverman, D. (2010). Doing qualitative research (3rd ed.). London: Sage Publications.

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EDEV_507 Week 5 Initial Post

Now the focus moves over to qualitative research.

Oshima, J., Horino, R., Oshima, R., Yamamoto, T., Inagaki, S., Takenaka, M., … Nakayama, H. (2006). Changing Teachers’ Epistemological Perspectives: A case study of teacher–researcher collaborative lesson studies in Japan. Teaching Education, 17(1), 43–57. http://doi.org/10.1080/10476210500527931

Locating a qualitative study for this week’s task in the field of epistemic cognition is a tough proposition. The foundational works of Perry (1970), Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger and Tarule (1987), King and Kitchener (1994) and others are book length works that derived their data from qualitative interview methodology. The difficulty of generating theory through quantitative methods was understood early on, and the task of overcoming the methodological issues consumed researchers since the mid-1990s (Hofer & Pintrich, 2002). The result is a paucity of qualitative studies in epistemic cognition. (Also, the disciplinary control of educational psychologists may explain this paucity due to the predominance of quantitative methods there.) I selected Oshima et al.’s (2006) study of the epistemological development of a Japanese teacher during his two-year experience on a Lesson Study programme.

Epistemic cognition, in the sense used by Greene, Sandoval and Bråten (2016) to refer to issues in the content, trajectory and beliefs about personal epistemology, has hardly been studied in the Japanese context. Why this is so is puzzling (B. Hofer, personal communication, 26 October 2016), but one reason may be to do with the prominence of the Lesson Study (Yoshida, 1999) methodology in the Japanese education system. Lesson Study is a method of teacher development that involves a community of teachers with varying degrees of expertise and experience who discuss better ways to teach subject content and concepts to students (Pang & Marton, 2003). In these discussions, participants attempt to predict student difficulties and weaknesses and suggest techniques to overcome these issues (Oshima et al., 2006). Although personal epistemology is never labelled explicitly, it is conceivable that students’ epistemic cognition is recognised by experienced teachers and addressed within the conceptually separate theories of subject content and concept. Furthermore, as Oshima et al. (2006) orthogonally imply, matters of personal epistemological development may be more relevant to teachers’ growth rather than that of students.

Oshima et al. (2006) collected video data as well as team meeting reports and interviews with Teacher Y. They coded these documents (without explicating their methods) and generated event-level codes (Charmaz, 2006; Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2011). Teacher Y’s utterances were categorised into an array of three by two to reflect Pedagogic, Subject Matter and Epistemological content directed at either individual members (locally) of the Lesson Study team or to the team globally at three discrete times. Teacher Y exhibited a categorical shift in his personal epistemology which was described in Oshima and colleagues both by direct reproduction of Teacher Y’s verbatim utterances and by explanation. This shift was also demonstrated quantitatively through the code count tables.

The base epistemology utilised by Oshima et al. (2006) was the change in the number of codes over the three time periods. In Time 1 (group discussion on Lesson 1), Pedagogical issues were coded 113 times but 332 times in Time 3. Epistemological issues, likewise, saw a statistically significant increase from 17 in Time 1 to 159 in Time 3. Subject Matter issues, however, did not see any dramatic changes over the two-year period (see Table 1).


Subject Matter


Lesson 1 (Time 1)




Lesson 2 (Time 2)




Lesson 3 (Time 3)




Table 1. Discourse event frequencies of different types of knowledge (from Oshima et al. (2006).

The construct of epistemological development is shown in the operationalisation of the variables (i.e. the codes). However, Teacher Y’s role in the discussions changed in each Time from being an observer (in Time 1) to a leader (in Time 3). Arguably, Epistemological content would differ depending on the role of Teacher Y and not be a function of any individual epistemological development.


Belenky, M. F., Clinchy, B. M., Goldberger, N. R., & Tarule, J. M. (1987). Women’s Ways of Knowing (Tenth Anni). New York: Basic Books.

Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. London: Sage.

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011). Research Methods in Education. Professional Development in Education (7th ed.). Abingdon: Routledge. http://doi.org/10.1080/19415257.2011.643130

Greene, J. A., Sandoval, W. A., & Bråten, I. (2016). Handbook of Epistemic Cognition. New York: Routledge.

Hofer, B. K., & Pintrich, P. R. (2002). Personal Epistemology: The Psychology of Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing. Mahwa, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

King, P. M., & Kitchener, K. (1994). Developing Reflective Judgment: Understanding and Promoting Intellectual Growth and Critical Thinking in Adolescents and Adults. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Oshima, J., Horino, R., Oshima, R., Yamamoto, T., Inagaki, S., Takenaka, M., … Nakayama, H. (2006). Changing Teachers’ Epistemological Perspectives: A case study of teacher–researcher collaborative lesson studies in Japan. Teaching Education, 17(1), 43–57. http://doi.org/10.1080/10476210500527931

Pang, M. F., & Marton, F. (2003). Beyond “lesson study”: Comparing two ways of facilitating the grasp of some economic concepts. Instructional Science, 31(3), 175–194.

Perry, W. G. (1970). Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years: A Scheme. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Yoshida, M. (1999). Lesson Study: A Case Study of a Japanese Approach to Improving Instruction Through School-Based Teacher Development. University of Chicago. Ph.D. Thesis.

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EDEV_507 Week 4_4

The study you posted is an interesting insight into educational research in Turkey. In reference to our mandate for this week, the paper (Tomul & Polat, 2013) is certainly an appropriate example of a quantitative, positivist study. It is notable that certain claims regarding socioeconomic factors were not shown to be supported in their empirical data. This has direct relevance to my own proposed thesis topic in which I aim to investigate theories in the Japanese context that have been developed in various parts of the world. The significance of a local context cannot be overemphasised.

A critical aspect of the quantitative research design process is correctly and appropriately operationalising the various constructs (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2011). The variables selected at this stage need to map onto the underlying constructs appropriately and tightly. In Tomul and Polat’s (2013) case, I was not convinced that this step had been conducted entirely well. For example, the account of national differences in socioeconomic status on page 450 included a comparison between Germany and Japan. The difference (23% and 12% respectively) reported failed to include any discussion of the significantly different governmental and familial expense outlays in these societies. Also, the relative class imbalances between Germany and Japan (i.e. Germany has a much larger working class, but most Japanese self-report as middle class) also impact on socioeconomic statuses. Finally, the access to university education in Japan is now over 75%—partly a result of the social expectation to attend tertiary education and partly due to the ease of access to the increasing number of low-level universities. In other words, stark percentage numbers do not necessarily allow a simple creation of a variable. Similar issues can be found for many of the other variables.

I was surprised that Tomul and Polat (2016) did not attempt to discuss potential reasons why the variables Father’s Education and High School had a significant (in both senses) meaning in Turkey. The paper could have been restructured to allow these statistics to introduce an argument explaining this.

But I’d like to address a point that is perhaps (certainly) outside the remit of this week’s mandate. I realise that English is the lingua Franca in academic journals and that many researchers are not native speakers of English. Those working in a non-native tongue have my utmost respect and admiration. However, I found that at many points in this study the weaknesses in the language were serious factors in allowing an accurate comprehension of the details of the argument and the degree of trust in the integrity of the researchers.


Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011). Research Methods in Education (7th ed.). London: Routledge.

Tomul, E., & Polat, G. (2013). The effects of socioeconomic characteristics of students on their academic achievement in higher education. American Journal of Educational Research, 1(10), 449-455.

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EDEV_507 Week 4_3

Thanks for sharing the US report. The presentation of the statistics was, as you said, very clear to follow. The report’s reliance on secondary sources (Smith, 2008) makes it a good case study in using these resources. I’d like to comment on a couple of issues Smith brings up in relation to this study.

The first is definitional. Smith (2008) asks if “Do your definitions match?” (p. 66). I know that you will probably do your thesis data collection in Toronto. This makes the action of clarifying definitional boundaries that may be used in the US and in Canada. Do both jurisdictions define any of these terms in the same way: women, disabilities, Black (even) and so on? The first term ‘women’ is gradually becoming problematic, and exact definitions of ‘disability’ have been issues for a decade. The term ‘Black’ is also not as rigid as it may appear. How does Canada differ in its understanding of these categories? The term ‘Asian’ in the US study, for example, combines both those from the Indian subcontinent and all of China, Japan and the whole of east Asia. Significant differences exist between these populations that may have an impact on your study.

The term ‘Black’ may also be problematic in a diverse multi-cultural area such as Toronto. Do children of mixed parentage count as ‘white’ (for example) or ‘black’? How much does an individual’s self-image affect reporting at the national level? An example from my own experience bears this out. In the 2012 Japan National Census, the form our family had to fill out had no way of reporting our children’s multi-cultural status. The available boxes were: Japanese, Asian, Other. My children have two passports, two languages and cultures, and two very different DNA strands coursing through their identities, yet in the official Japanese eyes, they are either ‘pure’ Japanese or ‘Other’.

The other point I wish to raise is that of the use of ‘underrepresented’. The report maintains that “It offers no endorsement of or recommendations about policies or programs” (National Science Foundation, 2013, p. ii). Yet, within the term ‘underrepresented’ lies an assumption that should be clarified if the report is to be transparent. This assumption rests on the belief that the numbers of individuals in any sphere of activity should be more or less similar to the percentage of that individual’s (whichever kind of) category in the national statistics. So, if the US national population of Black females is 6.4%, there should be around 6.4% Black females in all and any nationwide activity. When the actual numbers differ from that benchmark, research should be conducted to investigate why.

This assumption could be challenged on many grounds, but here I’ll ask only if the definition of, for example, ‘disability’ does or does not include sub-categories that make activities impossible. It seems to me that those with severe mental disabilities, for example, would not be pursuing higher education and, accordingly, should not be used to promote any notion of ‘underrepresentation’. Does it make sense to argue that if the national population of those with a disability is such-and-such a percent, that same number should also be evident in higher education? Without more precise definitions and clearer terminology, much can be missed when using secondary sources. Smith’s (2008) description has much on this. I’ll leave you with the rhetorical question of what exactly does ‘underrepresentation’ actually mean?


National Science Foundation (2013) Women, Minorities and Persons with Disability in Science and Engineering. Retrieved on 28 November 2016 from https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/2013/pdf/nsf13304_digest.pdf

Smith, E. (2008). Using secondary data in educational and social research. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

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