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Researching for system reform: Giving voice to the authoritative outsider
chapterposted on 2023-02-01, 01:03 authored by Russell TytlerRussell Tytler
There are many research methods tracts discussing the role of informants in phenomenological or ethnographic studies probing insider experiences of and views about educational processes at classroom, school and system level. For researchers who advocate reform processes, however, there is a problem with such inside informants who may have limited perspectives on possible alternative educational purposes and practices. Advocating for reform of science education can involve acknowledging voices from the wider ecological system surrounding the purposes and practices of school science. In this chapter I trace the methodological innovations of a reform-oriented researcher, David Symington, over a number of projects involving external commentators on school science education. I trace David’s own history that brought an outsider’s perspective, and the consistency with which he strove to identify and give voice to critically informed and wider perspectives on the appropriate purposes and practices in science education. The chapter examines the nature of research practices that aim to provide critical, reform-oriented perspectives through the strategic selection of research informants. I trace a consistent history of research design of a reform-oriented researcher to tease out the logic of research designs advocating change in science education at a system level, including a set of principles that might guide critical research methods in science education.