The Basis of Critique of Practitioner-Based Enquiry
Basic Objections to PBE as a Form of Educational Research
In order for PBE to legitimately enact the principles described earlier, it must maintain logical integrity. To do this it has to confront and respond to a series of practical and theoretical criticisms that can easily be overlooked or dismissed by researchers of particular ideological persuasions. Practitioner-based enquiry is a process that involves competition between different kinds of theories. Consequently, criticisms of PBE have a ‘deep structure’ that is rooted in nature/nurture and macro/micro debates in social and behavioural science and in arguments about the nature of knowledge. Some of the arguments will be analysed later in this chapter. At this point though, it is necessary to present the ‘surface structure’ of objections to PBE. Such objections are the counter to claims that PBE is a necessary and sufficient alternative to formalized, objectivistic research in educational settings. These objections are both substantive and procedural. They may be listed as generalized assertions, but it should be remembered that such objections assume weight when they are used to test the claims to knowledge of exemplar PBEs.
|1 Practitioner-Based Enquiries are epistemologically rooted in complex and controversial theoretical perspectives and philosophical outlooks. These include humanistic psychology, existentialism, social phenomenology, grounded theory, personal constructs and post-modernism. Such perspectives are themselves highly contested on validity grounds within social and behavioural science. |
|2 Work producing PBE reports may fundamentally misconceive the nature of educational practice allocating a dimension of personal ownership to it that is unjustifiable on legal-rational grounds and which also misrecognizes the normative and institutional character of such practice. |
|3 The practitioner can be misled into assuming that anecdote, intuition, spontaneous classroom behaviour, habit and subjective preference are the stuff of scientific revelation and which, in pursuit of the goal of science as predictive theory, are to be offered as evidence of prevailing conditions in classrooms. |