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Dr. Ania Lian, CDU, Darwin

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Critical research methodology:

Critical research methodology Dr. Ania Lian Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia A nia. L ian@cdu.edu.au Ania Lian Vice President of AsiaCALL (Research & Innovation) Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia Based on: A dialogic model of inquiry in second language teaching PhD Thesis by Ania Lian University of Queensland, Australia https ://sites.google.com/site/lianania/Home/phd-thesis

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The critic is not the one who debunks, but the one who assembles. […] [It is one who constructs] a multifarious inquiry launched with the tools of anthropology, philosophy, metaphysics, history, sociology to detect how many participants are gathered in a thing to make it exist and to maintain its existence. ( Latour, Latour, B. (2002). A prologue in form of a dialog between a student and his (somewhat) Socratic professor , Conclusion section, para. 12) Lian, A. 2006, p. 72 The objective of this PowerPoint is to assist readers in their better understanding of the key concern of the dialogic research methodology , which is: The next slides illustrate briefly the difference between the dialogic (critical) and non-dialogic (positivistic) methodology.

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As shown next in the widely quoted examples of the critique by Popper, when an interpretive system does not make room for its rivals, there is no limit that can be placed on the explanatory power of its logic. This is so because, as noted by C. Calhoun (1995) , the focus of this kind of inquiry is on affirming its possibilities, not on identifying its strategic, and therefore limited, explanatory powers. Popper describes the power of this methodology by taking the theories of Marx, Freud, and Adler as examples : Lian, A. 2006, pp. 13-14

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Popper describes the power of this [kind of] methodology by taking the theories of Marx, Freud, and Adler as examples : “These theories appeared to be able to explain practically everything that happened within the fields to which they referred. The study of any of them seemed to have the effect of an intellectual conversion or revelation, opening your eyes to a new truth hidden from those not yet initiated. Once your eyes were thus opened you saw confirming instances everywhere: The world was full of verifications of the theory. Whatever happened always confirmed it. […] “ “The most characteristic element in this situation seemed to me the incessant stream of confirmations, of observations which “verified” the theories in question; and this point was constantly emphasized by their adherents. A Marxist could not open a newspaper without finding on every page confirming evidence for his interpretation of history [...] The Freudian analysts emphasized that their theories were constantly verified by their “clinical observations”. [..] I could not think of any human behavior which could not be interpreted in terms of either theory. It was precisely this fact – that they were always confirmed – which in the eyes of their admirers constituted the strongest argument in favor of these theories. It began to dawn on me that this apparent strength was in fact their weakness.” Popper 2002: 45-6

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Principles of the Dialogic Inquiry

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The participatory role that Australian universities expect their graduates to play in the 21st century (Department of Education, Science and Training, 2005, Young, 2011), engaged as participants , rather than “ pliable peons in the global market place” (Tomlinson, 2006, p. 57) implies a very specific approach to the concept of knowledge, one which is sourced in dialogue and which gives rise to dialogue . Lian, A. B. 2012, p. 2 http :// www.rsu.ac.th/rjas/article.php?id=37

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Calhoun (1995) describes this kind of participatory approach as a “ conversation in which the construction of new understandings is continual ” (p. 11), “enabling us to ask new and different sorts of questions” (p. 7). As Calhoun explains, at stake in these “conversations” is not the production of “timeless and perspectiveless truths”, speaking “from the umpire’s chair” (p. 11), where interlocutors “move simply from false propositions to true ones” (p. 7), “claim[ ing ] – like Sherlock Holmes – to be working with “nothing but the facts” ( p. 5). Rather , it is the construction of related perspectives , “ highly contentful theories which must be subject to a continual play of interpretation ” (p. 91), each “self-conscious about its historicity, its place in a dialogue and among cultures, its irreducibility to facts, and its engagement in the practical world” (p. 11.). In this sense, “[o] ur hypotheses, therefore, should not be accorded predictive value in relation to reality, but strategic value in relation to the question raised ” (Lyotard, 1984, p. 7). Lian, A. B. 2012, p. 2 http://www.rsu.ac.th/rjas/article.php?id=37

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Calhoun (1995) describes this construction process as originating in the perception of conflict, generated when attempting to “connect widely different phenomena” (Latour, 1999, Good and bad generalizations section, para. 2), and resulting in reorganisation of the initial assumptions by “discovering [their] limits rather than affirming [their] possibilities ” (Calhoun, p. 13). It is this emphasis on the discovery of limits that differentiates a dialogic model of knowledge construction from models which do not challenge the terms on which they build their concepts and in so doing, are oriented toward knowledge reproduction, ultimately resulting in “conversion” (Popper, 2002, pp. 45-6). Lian , A. B. 2012, p. 2 http :// www.rsu.ac.th/rjas/article.php?id=37

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A critical method of inquiry therefore is one which resists the temptation of remaining within the boundaries of its assumptions. It seeks to enhance its consistency by attempting to “ connect widely different phenomena ” and, in the process, generate “unexpected differences ” (Latour, op. cit. , Good and bad generalizations section, para. 2). The new connections then constitute situated truths (Prigogine & Stengers , op. cit. : 298) to be further expanded and their explanatory power further contextualised . Latour describes a science of this kind as risky, i.e. where what is tested are entire research protocols, everything that is known, with the aim of creating new insights and new protocols. Lian, A. 2006, p. 251

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Latour sees an inquiry as involving the creation of rich articulations between conflicting (incommensurable) representations . Thus, like a person , a theory becomes “ interesting, deep, profound, worthwhile when it resonates with others , is affected, moved, put into motion by new entities whose differences are registered in new and unexpected ways ” (Latour, op. cit. Articulations and propositions section, para. 8):   “To oppose inarticulate to articulate knowledge is, in effect, to oppose tautological to non-redundant expressions. Instead of saying "A is A", that is, repeat the same expression twice, an articulate scientific laboratory will say "A is B, is C, is D", engaging what a thing is in the fate or destiny of many other things as well. This feature is in contradistinction with the correspondence theory of scientific truth which is condemned, at best, to tautology: it does nothing more, as we saw above, but repeat the original with as little deformation as possible (“A is A ”)” . ( Latour, op. cit. , Scientific means interesting section, para. 1) Lian, A. 2006, pp. 251-2

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In bad science , conceptual boundaries limit the scope of inquiry, thus limiting the boundary of the reality which the inquiry is permitted to reveal:   “[…] the bad ones are those who because they had had a local success try to produce generality, not by connection of new differences , but by the discounting of all remaining differences as irrelevant . “ ( Latour, op. cit. , Good and bad generalizations section, para. 2) Lian, A. 2006, pp. 252

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Conclusion:

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A dialogic inquiry proceeds by exploring the limits of the possibilities offered by the assumptions which inform its concepts. It does so by connecting new differences. In so doing, it identifies those limits and new potentials. (Calhoun above) A non-dialogic inquiry asserts the possibilities offered by the assumptions which inform its concepts. I n so doing, it discounts all remaining differences as irrelevant. It asserts its own power; it does not examine its potential through alternative interpretations.

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From : http://chronicle.com/forums/index.php?topic=55548.0 Thank YOU Click to Discuss this PowerPoint

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Additional thoughts:

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Phenomenology – if it is you who is doing the study , how can its theory ”stem from the views of participants in the study that explore the following research questions"?: 1.      How do pre-service teachers describe the challenges or difficulties that they face during professional experience? 2.      What are the experiences and meanings that pre-service teachers ascribe to these circumstances? Ania : Why do you select these questions - if it is their theory why not ask them about their questions? Isn’t a teacher’ s theory some form of struggle between the world they know and the world of requirements ? How do you capture these dialogues without interfering with your understandings? Ania : How can their theory, which will be many, contribute to the theory of education?  Are you just doing an inquiry into supporting their theories , but then how can they communicate these idiosyncratic experiences? What is an idio -theory good for ? How can you evaluate this? Can you?  What's the purpose of the theses? 

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Theory, on the other hand, is a story about practice; this is why it can be changed. Theory hence creates its own account of what practice is and what it involves. Theory, therefore, is a process of reflection. It asks questions about the genesis of the practice and, as such, looks at the practice in hindsight (Bourdieu 1995: 91). Practice, on the other hand, takes a forward-looking perspective by subjecting its reflexive attention to action: “ Practice has a logic which is not that of the logician” (Bourdieu, op. cit. : 86). Bourdieu captures the difference between theory and practice by comparing the act of painting with that of the artist being questioned to explain his act of painting. Bourdieu’s point is that no matter how much s/he tries, the artist is unable to provide answers to questions which are motivated by schemes or understandings which are not those of the painting artist. From my PhD Lian, a. B. (2006). Dialogic Inquiry, 2006. UQ Brisbane

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“Academic interrogation inclines him [i.e. an artist] to take up a point of view on his own practice that is no longer that of action, without being that of science, encouraging him to shape his explanations in terms of a theory of practice that meshes with the juridical, ethical or grammatical legalism to which the observer is inclined by his own situation. Simply, because he is questioned, and questions himself, about the reasons and the raison d’être of his practice, he cannot communicate the essential point, which is that the very nature of practice is that it excludes this question. “ ( Bourdieu, 1995 . : 91) Theory, therefore, is a product of questions which are not those of practice and which, therefore, impose their own logic upon practice without being able to reflect the practical necessity that generates practice

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