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Research in cooperative education, making the assumptions explicit

By Louise A. Dunn, Karen Farquharson, Llewellyn Mann and Diana Bossio


Credible research into cooperative education (co-op) and work integrated learning (WIL) programs is considered a priority, not only as a means to maintain the currency of understanding regarding student learning but necessary to justify and legitimatize co-op placements and WIL programs as sound educational strategy. However, it has been suggested that those conducting research in this field do not always clearly articulate the theoretical framework, approach or overall assumptions of the research being undertaken. Although the reasons for this are not clear, articulating the theoretical approach, including the assumptions, is important not only to assist with the selection of an appropriate research strategy, but necessary as a convincing basis for the acceptance of the trustworthiness of the knowledge gathered from the study. This paper aims to address this issue by exploring the differing terminology and definitions used by researchers and scholars to describe how knowledge is created and what counts as valid knowledge from different perspectives. Terms such as epistemology, ontology, axiology, dualism and non-dualism will be discussed including how these concepts influence the key assumptions underpinning the research and selection of a research framework. In doing so it is anticipated this paper will assist researchers, particularly those new to the field of co-op and WIL, with a better understanding of how to clearly articulate and justify the adoption of a research strategy based on the key assumptions, thus increasing the trustworthiness of research in cooperative education and work integrated learning

Topics: Research, Framework, Epistemology, Theoretical, Work Integrated Learning
Publisher: WACE
Year: 2013
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