Conceptual Orientation of the Investigator

In addition to taking full account of this triad, the orientation of the investigator must also be considered when examining evaluation or other types of early education studies. Research scientists approach their studies from a particular perspective with particular assumptions and understandings that guide their investigations. In evaluating their research, we feel it is important to ask such questions as: What is the ideological or conceptual orientation of the investigator? Is he or she studying children in context, or in isolation from the natural social environment? Is the perspective dominated by a search for universals, or rather for a search for differences between groups and/or cultures? Is the researcher interested in describing a dynamic model of the processes involved, or is the research instead interested in capturing a more static picture? Is the researcher more interested in endogenous or exogenous variables? Finally, does the researcher hold an individualist orientation, focusing on the child as the center of the model, or a more interactionist perspective, in which systems including the child, his or her family, and the school interact to shape development?

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