About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4012-4020
Publication year: 2015
ISBN: 978-84-608-2657-6
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain

CONCEPTUALISING LEARNING, LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS AND CURRICULUM FROM A CRITICAL REALIST PERSPECTIVE

A. Withell, N. Haigh

Auckland University of Technology (NEW ZEALAND)
Critical realism is a relatively new philosophical position that offers an alternative to the long established paradigms of objectivism/positivism and subjectivism/interpretivism. Based in the work of Roy Bhaskar (1978, 1979), and many others, critical realism draws important distinctions between the transitive realm of ‘knowing’, and an intransitive realm of ‘being’, such that there are multiple perceptions about a single, mind-independent reality. Knowledge is constructed and therefore fallible, and phenomena, such as social structures, have a layered ontology. This notion of a layered reality is particularly useful in research, especially as a way of ‘looking’ beyond documented experiences and observable activities and outcomes, to postulate on, and explore the operation of objects (entities), and their associated causal mechanisms, within open, or semi-open systems.

My research builds on the work of a relatively small, but growing, group of authors and researchers who have explored the theory and application of critical realism in educational research. This paper specifically explores how I have extended Brown’s (2009) critical realist model of a learning environment, to conceptualise and define learning, and curriculum. I present a number of visual models to support these conceptualisations. This work is then contextualised within a larger research project that explores the design, enactment, evaluation and redesign of a university-level, thinking curriculum using an action research methodology. I also present a critical realist analysis framework that I have developed for evaluating learning situations, and learning environments. This framework provides useful insights for developing curriculum, and optimising the potential of learning environments to enable learning to occur. I also critically discuss the implications of these conceptualisations and the analysis framework for curriculum designers and developers, and the contribution that this research makes to the growing body of critical realist educational research.

References:
[1] Bhaskar, R. (1978). A realist theory of science. Hassocks: Harvester Press.
[2] Bhaskar, R. (1979). The possibility of naturalism. Routledge: London.
[3] Brown, G. (2009). The ontological turn in education: The place of the learning environment. Journal of Critical Realism, 8(1), 5-34.
@InProceedings{WITHELL2015CON,
author = {Withell, A. and Haigh, N.},
title = {CONCEPTUALISING LEARNING, LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS AND CURRICULUM FROM A CRITICAL REALIST PERSPECTIVE},
series = {8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2015 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-608-2657-6},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {18-20 November, 2015},
year = {2015},
pages = {4012-4020}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. Withell AU - N. Haigh
TI - CONCEPTUALISING LEARNING, LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS AND CURRICULUM FROM A CRITICAL REALIST PERSPECTIVE
SN - 978-84-608-2657-6/2340-1095
PY - 2015
Y1 - 18-20 November, 2015
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2015 Proceedings
SP - 4012
EP - 4020
ER -
A. Withell, N. Haigh (2015) CONCEPTUALISING LEARNING, LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS AND CURRICULUM FROM A CRITICAL REALIST PERSPECTIVE, ICERI2015 Proceedings, pp. 4012-4020.
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