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Descriptive and Interpretive Approaches to Research: Pre-Block 2

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Leon Benade

on 17 March 2018

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Transcript of Descriptive and Interpretive Approaches to Research: Pre-Block 2

Descriptive and Interpretive Approaches to Research: Pre-Block 2
A pre-class presentation
Please work through this prezi at your own pace. It covers the following:
an introduction to descriptivist and interpretivist research
descriptivist approach
interpretivist approach
a video introduction to phenomenological terms
an overview of big thinkers in phenomenology and their ideas
An Introduction to some phenomenological terms
Descriptive research
The act of research is an effort to describe the world
Research begins with an attempt to provide 'thick' descriptions of our practice or experience, for eg.
To describe in detail provides insight
Description defines and differentiates your area of study
'How is the concept of '21st-century learning' expressed by teachers?'
The epistemology and ontology of the interpretive approach
Husserl (1859-1938). A focus on the epistemological: what is it to
? A separation of the conscious actor from a world of objects.
A systematic study of the inner mental worlds of participants.
Research questions focus on this inner world:
'How do practitioners reflect on their practice?'
Requires 'bracketing' the real world - the structure
of our own conscious experience (

Phenomenology: Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre
Interest in understanding the social from actors’ own perspectives

Describing the world as experienced by the subjects

Conscious experiences from a first person POV

Important reality is what people perceive it to be.

The social construction of reality
Some important figures in Phenomenology

Phenomenonology: a theoretical framework for research that focuses on the phenomenon of study

The phenomenon is the object, idea or activity under scrutiny.

The study of structures of experience, or consciousness (lived experience)

Two broad approaches

Definitions & Key Concepts
1. Look at the phenomenon as it presents itself in the consciousness of people experiencing it
2. Get into the context of the phenomenon and live it.

1. The first is a direct exploration of human knowing (conscious; cognitive)
rational answers to questions for eg
2. The second is an indirect investigation of human being (pre-cognitive; embodied).
looking at body language and unspoken messages for eg
Heidegger: Consciousness and experience expanded to include the ‘human life world’.
We are not explicitly conscious of our habitual patterns of action in practical activities like walking, hammering a nail, or speaking our native tongue
Ontological focus - being in the world (no bracketing) - what is it to be?
Research questions focus on how participants make sense of their world: 'What role does reflection play in bringing change to teachers' work?
Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961)
associated with existentialism
begins with an analysis of the concrete experiences, perceptions, and difficulties, of human existence.
developed a radical re-description of embodied experience (with a primacy given to studies of perception)
Husserlian, who believed that the body had been disregarded by Western philosophy
Rejected the notion of a disembodied mind controlling the body
His purpose is to understand human existence rather than the world as such.
Wanted to develop an ontological account of what it is to be human
Key features are the randomness of the world and the radical freedom of the individual
This freedom may lead to 'bad-faith' choices, thus the challenge is to attain authenticity; to connect with the universal values of 'the other'

Does not limit the concepts that can be considered relevant
Relationships (and the whole) have primacy over parts
Seek the connection between and among elements
Meaning is critical
Generalisability is not important - but the results must reflect the opinions and actions of participants

There is no neutral research(er)
Our observations are theory-laden
People construct meaning
Research is contextualised
1. Look at the phenomenon as it presents itself in the consciousness of people experiencing it
2. Get into the context of the phenomenon and live it.

But we often want to go beyond the world as it
to the world as
Move from a world of
to a
Description flows into interpretation by the researcher's act of selection and sense making -
moving from t
he world is
to the
world as something

Interpretive Research
Full transcript