Researching Your Professional Practice: Doing Interpretive Research

Researching Your Professional Practice: Doing Interpretive Research

Researching Your Professional Practice: Doing Interpretive Research

Researching Your Professional Practice: Doing Interpretive Research


• What is interpretive research?

• How do you approach doing interpretive research?

• How do you do interpretive research well?

This book is for the professional educator who wants to make use of good interpretive research practice to help them do their job better. A view on the nature of interpretation within the qualitative approach is presented which leads on to a model of doing qualitative research the interpretive way that is both credible and trustworthy. The book is designed to demystify the interpretive/qualitative research process for educators doing a further degree at masters or doctoral level. Examples in the book from doctoral students who are teachers, lecturers, advisers and education managers, cover the area of arts education, TEFL, home-school relations and teacher education and development. The book will be of particular interest to educators doing research who want to raise their awareness of the perceptions and needs of others with whom and for whom they are responsible and who want to improve their understanding of the process and the content of their work.


This book is written to help all those researchers who wish to engage in research the interpretive way. It is particularly written for researchers who are also educational practitioners and are doing research for a further degree and/or to investigate professional practice. It provides a theoretical framework and demonstrates application of these theories to practices that have been honed through experience. What constitutes interpretive research is the explicit recognition of the researcher being engaged in the act of interpretation from the beginning of the research process to the end. My approach to research the interpretive way is driven by the belief that, at its best, interpretive educational research has explanatory power and can inspire through offering illuminating insights into human situations. In describing the process of interpretation Peshkin (2000: 9) concludes his paper on the nature of interpretation in qualitative research with the following statement, with which I wholeheartedly concur. 'To become forthcoming and honest about how we work as researchers is to develop a reflective awareness that, I believe, contributes to enhancing the quality of our interpretive acts.' Through making explicit my interpretive acts I sincerely hope this book will contribute to the enhancement of qualitative interpretive research practice.

The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 is entitled 'Understanding interpretive research' and is based on the assumption that it is not sufficient just to gain knowledge of a technique and to copy a method or follow a model of procedure to engage in interpretive research. It is necessary to understand the epistemological issues that make up this approach. In other words: what is it to know when we consider the social world and society, and when interacting with one another? The theoretical commitments and the philosophic assumptions that guide the approach of interpretive research advocated in this book are discussed in Chapter 1. Understanding the theory of interpretive research enables a deeper level of learning to take place. This encourages a critical perspective on the topic. However, in the . . .

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