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Doing Teacher-Research

A Handbook for Perplexed Practioners

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Wolff-Michael Roth

There are many teachers who think about doing research in their own classes and schools but who are perplexed by what appears to be involved. This book is intended for these perplexed practitioners, to provide them with an easily understandable narrative about the concrete praxis of doing research in their classrooms or in those of their teacher peers teaching next door or in the same school. The fundamental idea underlying this book is to provide an easily accessible but nevertheless intellectually honest text that allows teachers to increase their agency with respect to better understanding their praxis and the events in their classrooms by means of research.
The author draws on his experience of doing teacher-research while being a high school teacher and department head. Roth uses six concrete research studies that he has conducted alone or with peers to describe the salient parts of any teacher-researcher investigation including: what topic to study; issues of ethics and permissions from students, school, and parents; how and what sources to collect; how to structure resources; how to construct data from the materials; how to derive claims; and how to write a report/research study. Roth chose the case-based approach because cases provide the details necessary for understanding why and how he, as teacher-researcher, has made certain decisions, and what he would do differently today. Using this case-based approach, he allows readers to tie methods choices to situations that they likely are familiar with.

Dialogism

A Bakhtinian Perspective on Science and Learning

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Wolff-Michael Roth

In this book, Wolff-Michael Roth takes a 38-minute conversation in one science classroom as an occasion for analyzing learning and development from a perspective by and large inspired by the works of Mikhail Bakhtin but also influenced by Lev Vygotsky and 20th century European phenomenology and American pragmatism. He throws a new and very different light on the nature and use of language in science classroom, and its transformation. In so doing, he not only exposes the weaknesses of existing theoretical frameworks, including radical and social constructivism, but also exhibits problems in his own previous thinking about knowing and learning in science classrooms. The book particularly addresses issues normally out of the light of sight of science education research, including the material bodily principle, double-voicedness, laughter, coarse language, swearing, the carnal and carnivalistic aspects of life, code-switching, and the role of vernacular in the transformation of scientific language. The author suggests that only a unit of analysis that begins with the fullness of life, singular, unique, and once-occurrent Being, allows an understanding of learning and development, emotion and motivation, that is, knowing science in its relation to the human condition writ large. In this, the book provides responses to questions that conceptual change research, for example, is unable to answer, for example, the learning paradox, the impossibility to eradicate misconceptions, and the resistance of teachers to take a conceptual change position.

Series:

Wolff-Michael Roth

In the course of his research career, much of which was based in his own classrooms, Wolff-Michael Roth explored numerous new theoretical frameworks when the old ones proved to be unable to account for the data. In this book, surrounding 11 of his publications spanning 20 years of work, the author tells a story of how science education research concretely realized and singularized itself. That is, rather than taking sole credit for the work that ultimately came to bear his name, Roth develops a historical narrative in which his work came to realize cultural-historical possibilities inherent in the field of science education. But perhaps because some types of this work came to be realized for a first time, Roth’s research also came to be characterized by others in the community as “cutting edge.” This work, therefore presents as much an auto/biographical narrative as it presents a cultural-historical recollection of science education as it unfolded over the past two decades.

Learning Science

A Singular Plural Perspective

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Wolff-Michael Roth

How do you intend (to learn, know, see) something that you do not yet know? Given the theory-laden nature of perception, how do you perceive something in a science demonstration that requires knowing the very theory that you are to learn? In this book, the author provides answers to these and other (intractable) problems of learning in science. He uses both first-person, phenomenological methods, critically analyzing his own experiences of learning in unfamiliar situations and third-person, ethnographic methods, critically analyzing the learning of students involved in hands-on investigations concerning motion and static electricity.
Roth continues his longstanding interest in understanding how we learn science and the question why all the changes to science education made over the past five decades have a significant impact of increasing understanding and interest in the subject. Roth articulates in his concluding chapter that the problem lies in part with the theories of learning employed—in the course of his biographical experience, he has appropriated and abandoned numerous theoretical frameworks, including (radical, social) constructivism, because they fell short when it came to understand real-time processes in school science classrooms.
This book, which employs the cognitive phenomenological method described in the recently published Doing Qualitative Research: Praxis of Method (SensePublishers, 2005), has been written for all those who are interested in learning science: undergraduate students preparing for a career in science teaching, graduate students interested in the problems of teaching and learning of science, and faculty members researching and teaching in science education.

What More in/for Science Education

An Ethnomethodological Perspective

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Wolff-Michael Roth

What more is there in and for science education to do in terms of researching science lessons? A lot, the author suggests, if research turns away from studying science education extracting social facts using special methods, which journal articles require to state, to studying the work and methods by means of which participants themselves create their structured world of science lessons. This book presents, with concrete materials from an inquiry-oriented physics course, a way of doing science education research that radically differs from existing approaches. This book articulates this approach for a science education audience, where this approach is by and large unknown, and where the primary literature is often experienced as impenetrable and as requiring years of work to gain entry. Consistent with this different approach, those materials are used that constitute the way in which the reflexive production of social order is observed by the actors (teachers, students) themselves.

Series:

Wolff-Michael Roth

This book is about language in STEM research and about how it is thought about: as something that somehow refers to something else not directly accessible, often «meaning», «mental representation», or «conception». Using the analyses of real data and analyses of the way certain concepts are used in the scientific literature, such as “meaning,” this book reframes the discussion about «meaning», «mental representation», and «conceptions» consistent with the pragmatic approaches that we have become familiar with through the works of K. Marx, L. S. Vygotsky, M. M. Bakhtin, V. N. Vološinov, L. Wittgenstein, F. Mikhailov, R. Rorty, and J. Derrida, to name but a few. All of these scholars, in one or another way, articulate a critique of a view of language that has been developed in a metaphysical approach from Plato through Kant and modern constructivism; this view of language, which already for Wittgenstein was an outmoded view in the middle of the last century, continuous to be alive today and dominating the way language is thought about and theorized.

Rigorous Data Analysis

Beyond ""Anything Goes""

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Wolff-Michael Roth

In qualitative research, one can often hear the statement that research results are just (social) constructions. In criminal cases and in court hearings, we tend to expect that the true sequence of events has to be found rather than just any story. Here the author shows that qualitative social research can be conducted in the manner of police work or court proceedings. He does so by exhibiting how short pieces of transcriptions can be approached to uncover who, when, where, and how participated, what kind of social situation produced the transcription, and so on without any background knowledge other than that talk itself. Commenting on transcriptions of a researcher in the course of doing rigorous data analysis, readers learn doing ethnographically adequate accounts and critical institutional ethnography “at the elbow” of an experienced practitioners. Further topics include the role of turn sequences, the ethnomethods of knowledge-power and institutional relations, the documentary method of interpretation, and time-sensitive social analysis.

First-Person Methods

Toward an Empirical Phenomenology of Experience

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Wolff-Michael Roth

In the history of psychology, first-person methods, such as introspection, have come into disrepute in favor of the experimental approach. Yet the results of first-person research—such as the famous studies provided by Maurice Merleau-Ponty in his Phenomenology of Perception—have indeed produced knowledge subsequently ascertained by neuroscientific research. The purpose of this book is to assist readers in developing first-person methods as a rigorous approach. It is designed to assist researchers in the field of education to develop their competencies in the first-person approach. Concrete examples, descriptions, precepts, and possible findings are provided to guide readers in their inquiries. Surrounding the inquiries, reflective commentaries assist readers to become reflexively aware of what they are doing and thereby come to bring into discourse the methods they have used. That is, readers are assisted in developing research praxis by experiencing first-person methods first hand and then to become reflexively aware of the method as method.

The Mathematics of Mathematics

Thinking with the Late, Spinozist Vygotsky

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Wolff-Michael Roth

This book takes up where L. S. Vygotsky has left off during the last few months of his life, when he renounced much of what he had done before. A month before Vygotsky died, he wrote in his notebook that he felt like Moses who had seen the promised land but was never allowed to set foot on it. The vision Vygotsky laid out during his final days had been influenced by his readings of the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza and a book by Karl Marx published for the first time a year before Vygotsky died. In the present book, the author lays out a view of mathematics based on a monist view of knowing, learning, and development. Just as the essence of what is specifically human, the mathematics of mathematics exists in the ensemble of societal relations. For the individual, this means that mathematical thinking and reasoning was a society-typical relation with another person first, often the teacher. Using data from a variety of situations, including school students as well as scientists, the book develops some fundamental concepts and categories for mathematics education research, including the thinking body, sociogenesis, the intra-intersubjective field, pereživanie (experience), obučenie (teaching | learning), and drama.

Doing Qualitative Research

Praxis of Method

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Wolff-Michael Roth

The author takes readers on a journey of a large number of issues in designing actual studies of knowing and learning in the classroom, exploring actual data, and putting readers face to face with problems that he actually or possibly encountered, and what he has done or possibly could have done. The reader subsequently sees the results of data collection in the different analyses provided. The author shows how one writes very different studies using the same data sources but very different theoretical assumptions and analytic technique.
The author brings his publication experience in very different disciplinesinto play to provide readers with way of experiencing research as praxis. The book is organized around six major themes (sections), in the course of which it develops the practical problems an educational researcher might face in a large variety of settings. The book was written to be used by upper undergraduate and graduate students taking courses in research design and professors who want to have a reference on design and methodology.