On the Role of Values in Educational Research: a Critique of Two Research Studies

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
This paper aims to critique the conceptual framework and paradigmatic nature of two studies that report on empirical data to draw conclusions and claim transferability. The focus is placed on the influence of the raft of beliefs and values the researcher brings to the process of research. My main argument is that research can never be value-free, because research frameworks and designs are underpinned by a set of assumptions about the nature of social reality, what good knowledge is, and how to attain it. Researchers are expected to be self-reflexive and state how their values affect the choice of topic and overall design of their inquiry. In this paper, I deconstruct the theoretical underpinnings and methodological decisions the researchers make to shed light on the influential role of values on the process of educational inquiry. To put my discussion in context, I opt to critique Hariri’s (2014) study, which investigates TEFL university instructors’ emotional attitudes to their students, fellow teachers and workplace, and Akbari et al. (2017) exploring EFL teachers’ emotion regulation behaviour in the classroom. Even though the two studies seem to be conducted within a disparate research tradition, I argue that the researchers have similar underlying ontological and epistemological assumptions that necessitate the choice of a particular methodology. I therefore suggest that the researchers’ personal, social and competency values determine the selection of a research methodology. I suggest that researchers should be introspective and explain how their beliefs and hunches have influenced the overall process of inquiry, and what measures were taken to minimize the effects of these preconceived assumptions. The research findings might have wider implications for evidence-based teaching and policy construction.
research paradigm, ontology, epistemology, methodology, axiology, values