Research Methods and Learning: Conceptualizing the Difference by [Author’s name] 09 February 2012 Research Methods and Learning: Conceptualizing the Difference Task A How to research and conceptualize learning has long been a matter of hot debates. Writers and scholars in education tried to answer the main questions related to research methods in the field of learning and their effects on the public and professional understanding of learning processes…
Hodkinson and Macleod (2010) assert that the choice of research methods is directly related to the concept of learning which researchers support. Moreover, the researchers assume that, by choosing one or another method of research, scholars in education try to promote their own vision and conceptualization of learning. These differences in learning conceptualizations and their relationship to research methodology should be considered. The significance of Hodkinson and Macleod’s (2010) is justified by the fact that learning lacks a single definition. On the contrary, learning is too vague to be defined in concrete terms. “Learning is a conceptual and linguistic construction that is widely used in many societies and cultures, but very different meanings, which are fiercely contested and partly contradictory” (Hodkinson & MacLeod, 2010, p.174). Since learning lacks an explicit meaning and does not possess any physical identity, differences in interpretations and conceptualizations of learning are logical and anticipated. Thus, it comes as no surprise that professionals and scholars in education use various methodologies to construct their knowledge about learning. Actually, most of what has been written and said about learning has been made possible by constructing new knowledge about complex learning processes (Hodkinson & Macleod, 2010). For the purpose of their research, Hodkinson and Macleod (2010) discuss the most common and well-known conceptualizations of learning and their implications for scholarly research. It appears that acquisition and participation are the two foundational paradigms describing the field of learning (Hodkinson & Macleod, 2010). Depending on the particular paradigm, researchers tend to conceptualize learning as either an activity system or the system of transferring knowledge from the source to the recipient. In addition, learning can be perceived as construction, when individuals construct new meanings of the reality in which they live and accumulate these meanings (Hodkinson & Macleod, 2010). In this situation, researchers face two challenging tasks: first, which of the contrasting views of learning should be adopted and, depending on the view, what type of research methodology will fit their views on learning (Hodkinson & Macleod, 2010). Here, the researchers also seek to trace the linkages between the research methods and the existing conceptualizations of learning. Based on the knowledge provided in their article, it is clear that research methods and learning conceptualizations create a circle of interdependencies: while the choice of learning ideology greatly affects and even necessitates the choice of the most appropriate research strategy, the latter also impacts the ways in which research results are interpreted and understood. From what Hodkinson and Macleod (2010) write in their article, it is possible to assume that research methodology can indicate and help to define the learning conceptualization to which each particular researcher is committed. Furthermore, the knowledge provided in the article enables researchers to define the gaps and inconsistencies that usually accompany the process of research in learning. Eventually, with the help of the article, ...
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