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Applying Theory to Educational Research: An Introductory Approach with Case Studies

Jeff Adams (Editor), Matt Cochrane (Editor), Linda Dunne (Editor)
ISBN: 978-0-470-97236-6
252 pages
October 2011, ©2011
Applying Theory to Educational Research: An Introductory Approach with Case Studies (047097236X) cover image
Applying Theory to Educational Research provides educational researchers with an accessible introduction to the process of selecting and applying theories in their work.
  • Offers an innovative and accessible approach to educational research by providing practical examples of the application of theory
  • Gives 'hands-on' accounts for the researcher and practitioner
  • Explains and discusses complex ideas in the light of experience in using and applying them
  • Covers the application of major theorists such as Bourdieu, Foucault, Weber, Derrida, and Vygotsky

For beginning researchers, theory can be one of the most stimulating – yet intellectually daunting – aspects of academic work. Applying Theory to Educational Research provides new educational researchers with a uniquely accessible introduction to the process of selecting and applying theories in their own work. Written by a team of leading educationalists writing from the perspective of new researchers, clearly structured chapters introduce individual theorists and their ideas, present their applications and limitations, and provide extensive references and suggestion for further reading. Major theorists such as Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault, Max Weber, Jacques Derrida, and Lev Vygotsky are included, along with many more recent educational theorists. Throughout the text, helpful hints and signposts are provided to alert readers to the potential pitfalls of applying theory.

Innovative and illuminating, Applying Theory to Educational Research offers a wealth of practical insights that will point the way for novice researchers struggling to navigate an often daunting intellectual obstacle course.

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About the Contributors vii

Preface xiii

Acknowledgements xv

Introduction 1
Jeff Adams, Matt Cochrane and Linda Dunne

Part I New Voices: Beginning Researchers Apply Theory 11

1 Learning and Maintaining Professional Expertise Within a Multi-Professional Critical Care Team 15
Jill Cochrane

2 The 'Q' Standards and Initial Teacher Training: The Discursive Formation of Teachers and their Trainers 31
Paul Bartle

3 Power and Status Theories in Teachers' Professional Development 47
Karen Castle

4 The Process of Technology Learning: Applying Bruner's Theory on Play, Discovery and Cultural Learning to the Acquisition of ICT Capability 61
Paula Beer

Part II Emergent Voices: Accounts by Researchers Becoming Familiar with the Use of Theory 75

5 Teachers' Professional Identity: Theoretical Perspectives on Workplace Learning in the Teaching Context 81
Rob Foster

6 Children's University Aspirations and the Effects of Cultural and Social Capital 95
Matt Cochrane

7 Finding Theory Through Collaborative Research 109
Clare Woolhouse

8 How Applying a Discourse-Based Approach to Investigate Inclusion Changed a Research Project and a Way of Thinking 123
Linda Dunne

Part III Voices of Experience: Accounts by Researchers Versed in the Use of Theory 139

9 Should I be Singing This, and if So, How High?: Theoretical Approaches to Boyhood and Masculinity 145
Martin Ashley

10 Theorizing from Bricolage: Researching Collaboration in Art and Design Education 157
Madeleine Sclater

11 Constructivism and the Pedagogy of Teacher Education: Reflections on Practice 175
Graham Rogers

12 Developing Professional Practice through Action Research: Theory-Generative Approaches in Practitioner Research 189
Mary McAteer

13 Art Practice as Education Research 203
Jeff Adams

Postscript 219
Jeff Adams, Matt Cochrane and Linda Dunne

Index 221

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Jeff Adams is Professor of Education at the University of Chester and Principal Editor of the International Journal of Art and Design Education. He is the author of Documentary Graphic Novels and Social Realism (2008) and co-author of Teaching Through Contemporary Art (2008).

Matt Cochrane is Senior Lecturer in Education at Edge Hill University. He is a co-author of Teaching Science (2009).

 Linda Dunne is Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow at Edge Hill University. She is a member of the British Educational Research Council.

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It is impossible to be in and of world with any degree of functional success, without recourse to theory. Managing day to day life, let alone engaging in the relatively esoteric pursuit of research, demands some reasonably coherent framework of reference within which to make sense of experiences and perceptions. We need theories – plausible explanations for what’s going on – to live and research by. When it comes to research students, my experience is that they either fear or embrace theory. In sharing lived experiences of using theory, this book will help to reassure the timid and excite the confident.
Pat Sikes, Professor in Qualitative Inquiry, University of Sheffield, UK

Applying Theory to Educational Research offers a theoretically informed and thoroughly readable text for beginner researchers in the field of education. The book is grounded in the authors’ own research interests through which concepts and ideas of some of the key theorists in education are explored. A key strength of the text is the way in which it makes difficult and potentially daunting theoretical ideas and frameworks accessible. This innovative and student-friendly text will be an invaluable resource for all those new, and not so new, to the research process in the field of education.
Rosalyn George, Professor of Education and Equality, Goldsmiths University of London, UK

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