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Editorial – Theory Testing Research Versus Theory-Based Research

Editorial – Theory Testing Research Versus Theory-Based Research Advances in Health Sciences Education 9: 175–178, 2004. Editorial – Theory Testing Research versus Theory-Based Research What is the role of theory in educational research? Regretfully, it seems to me that, to paraphrase Winifred Castle, a British statistician: ‘‘Most educational researchers use theories the way a drunkard uses a lightpost. More for support than illumination’’. I recently attended a conference where a qualitative researcher was studying the use of pictures to promote dialogue. In the course of her pre- sentation, she mentioned several theories which were used to ‘‘guide’’ her inquiry, to ‘‘provide a framework’’ for her investigation, to ‘‘furnish a con- ceptual basis’’ for her research, and so on. As I listened to the convoluted tale unfolding, bouncing back and forth among aspects of the several theories which were marshaled one after another to support her approach, I kept waiting for a test of these theories – some evidence to decide whether they were right or wrong. This never happened. The theory wasn’t there to be tested; it was there only to show her where to go looking in the morass of detail she had accumulated. It was only later, when I read a copy of the paper, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Advances in Health Sciences Education Springer Journals

Editorial – Theory Testing Research Versus Theory-Based Research

Advances in Health Sciences Education , Volume 9 (3) – Sep 21, 2004

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
Subject
Education; Medical Education
ISSN
1382-4996
eISSN
1573-1677
DOI
10.1023/B:AHSE.0000038310.81360.20
pmid
15316268
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Advances in Health Sciences Education 9: 175–178, 2004. Editorial – Theory Testing Research versus Theory-Based Research What is the role of theory in educational research? Regretfully, it seems to me that, to paraphrase Winifred Castle, a British statistician: ‘‘Most educational researchers use theories the way a drunkard uses a lightpost. More for support than illumination’’. I recently attended a conference where a qualitative researcher was studying the use of pictures to promote dialogue. In the course of her pre- sentation, she mentioned several theories which were used to ‘‘guide’’ her inquiry, to ‘‘provide a framework’’ for her investigation, to ‘‘furnish a con- ceptual basis’’ for her research, and so on. As I listened to the convoluted tale unfolding, bouncing back and forth among aspects of the several theories which were marshaled one after another to support her approach, I kept waiting for a test of these theories – some evidence to decide whether they were right or wrong. This never happened. The theory wasn’t there to be tested; it was there only to show her where to go looking in the morass of detail she had accumulated. It was only later, when I read a copy of the paper,

Journal

Advances in Health Sciences EducationSpringer Journals

Published: Sep 21, 2004

References