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A Paradigm Shift

Hubble Movies Provide Unprecedented View of Supersonic Jets from Young Stars

This week, NASA released images captured by the Hubble space telescope that show supersonic jets of gas coalescing to form new stars. I share this image to illustrate a similar, yet much more subtle by comparison, experience in my own understanding of research this week.  I have had a paradigm shift. As someone that has been trained to view information with a “scientist’s perspective”, I find myself humbled this week by the information provided as a part of our Module 2 assignments in EDTECH 505-Evaluation for Educational Technologists. I have considered the systematic approach of the scientific method and all “research” for that matter superior to any other method of evaluation. This week, the concept of evaluation was presented as a part of our reading in The ABCs of Evaluation by John Boulmetis and Phyllis Dutwin, and the instructional materials presented by Dr. Perkins have challenged the way I think about research and evaluation. I have always considered that “real” research follows certain criteria; the research environment is controlled for any confounding variables as much as possible, research always begins with a hypothesis, and the goal of research is results, not the process. When I first began to read the supplemental instructional material entitled “Nuance”, my first gut reaction was to disagree. No, he must not really understand “research” (sorry Dr. Perkins). But as I continued to read, re-read, and re-read; as I continued through the remaining materials for this week’s module, I gradually began to understand. I think the reason I was first attracted to the field of science was because it seems to LACK nuance. Hypothesis-driven research is focused and clear. But beyond the lab, and if I am honest with myself, even IN the lab, there is more nuance in research than many would admit. I had just never thought about it like this before. Just as in life (and science IS the study of life right?), there are shades of gray. And in research and evaluation, there are gray areas. You don’t always know exactly what you will find on the other side. As Albert Einstein once wisely said, “If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research.” I had never really allowed myself the chance to understand how research can evolve from many different perspectives,  theoretical, predictive, interpretivist, postmodern, action, and developmental. Truth be told, I didn’t even recognize that there were so many different kinds of research until this week. This has been a fundamental shift in how I look at new publications and sources of information, and will affect how I place value on contributions within the field of educational technology. Once again, just as I begin to learn more, I find myself realizing how little I knew before.

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