Constructivist Foundations 8 (1):118-125 (2012)

Context: Ernst von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivism has been very influential in education, particularly in mathematics and science education. Problem: There is limited guidance available for educational researchers who wish to design research that is consistent with constructivist thinking. Von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivism, together with the theoretical perspectives outlined by constructivist educational researchers such as Guba and Lincoln, can be considered as a source of guidance. Method: The paper outlines a constructivist knowledge framework that could be adopted for educational research. The discussion considers how judgement of what counts as knowledge could be made, and how the set of procedures chosen could enable the researcher to represent the findings of the inquiry as knowledge. Results: An argument is made for researchers to explicate the criteria for judging an inquiry. Each criterion can then be linked to the standards to be reached and the techniques for generating data. The joint satisfaction of criteria and techniques for a constructivist inquiry creates conditions that indicate the “trustworthiness” or “authenticity” of an educational research study. Implications: The illustration of how a constructivist inquiry could be judged recognises how the contribution of von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivism can be used to inform the practice of educational research. Constructivist content: The argument presented in the paper links to radical constructivism and suggests ways in which it can be applied in the context of educational research
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