Paradigms in Physics Education Research.
In this paper, we describe two paradigms in physics education research (PER): recurrence-oriented and case-oriented PER. We connect theory on research methodologies in the social sciences to interviews with physics education researchers and examples of published PER to articulate the specific assumptions of recurrence- and case-oriented PER. We show that the different assumptions made in these two paradigms bear out in specific aims and research designs taken up by physics education researchers. In particular, recurrence-oriented research seeks reproducible, representative patterns and relationships; human behavior is modeled as governed by lawful (albeit probabilistic) relationships. Case-oriented research, in contrast, seeks to refine and develop theory by linking that theory to cases; human action is seen as shaped by the meanings that participants make of their local environments. We describe a third approach - question-oriented research - in which researchers take up both the recurrence- and case-oriented research paradigms.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.4135
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