In this web piece I have concentrated on the way topics and assignments were organized in this methods course. But many other factors equally important to the success and outcomes of a course like this. A more complete account would also mention the many modifications and compromises made while teaching the course, describe students' projects and grades, and summarize student feedback. It would also discuss facilty reactions to the course.
Training in research methodology quickly cuts deeply to the core of university life, having an impact on students' choice of subsequent courses, of dissertation topic, of advisors and committee members. It has complex and subtle ideological and political ramifications within the academy. Efforts to change students' training, particularly those that would alter the received paradigm, call into question commitments central to academic identity; strong emotions are roused. Ideally, open debate should be the result, but Kuhn notes how:
"professionalization leads... to an immense restriction of the scientist's vision and to a considerable resistance to paradigm change" (1962/1970, p. 64).
Resistance to change has positive functions for the practice of normal science, but the result is that innovation is seen as "subversive to its basic commitments," as leading the profession astray.
My hope is that this paper will contribute to discussion of the research training appropriate for graduate students in schools of education and elsewhere. I welcome feedback from you, the reader, in the form of comments on, reactions to, or criticisms of the course as I have outlined it, the sharing of your own experiences, and any and all questions.
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© Martin Packer, 1999