Reading about educational theories and educational research I have come across these useful books.
The first book Educational Theories, Cultures and Learning edited by Harry Daniels, Hugh Lauder and Jill Porter gives educational researchers a chance to reflect upon urgent issues of pedagogy.
The second book, the second edition of Educational Research by John O’Toole and David Beckett is an introductory textbook, which provides new researchers with a step by step approach to starting research.
Educational Theories, Cultures and Learning – edited by Harry Daniels, Hugh Lauder and Jill Porter
Educational Theories, Cultures and Learning provides a critical approach to contemplating questions in education on culture, globalisation, language, childhood, learning and teaching, and identity. The book highlights the importance of visiting and revisiting significant areas of education that provide teachers, policy makers and educational researchers with a professional and practical compass to help guide them through the challenges and complexities faced by those in the education profession. Educationalists are given an opportunity to consider the debates around what should be taught, and how it should be taught. The role of theory is expounded, allowing the reader to ask important questions about how theories can apply to our understanding of culture and pedagogy. Further, empirical research is explored, for example the chapter on Cyberworlds by Sarah L Holloway and Gill Valentine includes a detailed exploration of how certain notions of childhood and technology informed the way that they researched children and cyberspace.
The book is divided into three parts: the first section focuses on international perspectives of education, thus countering ethnocentric notions of education; the second section expands on theories of pedagogy; and the third section includes discussions on the identities of teachers and learners. The editors are conscious of positioning, bias and validity, and therefore all the contributors in the book have made clear their assumptions and positions that underpin their thinking in order for there to be clarity for the reader. The comparative analysis of education within the book also helps to interrogate assumptions and biases that may hold us back from a breadth of thought.
The book also provides readers with questions to reflect upon, and further reading guides for certain chapters the reader may want to investigate further. The book should be ideally read in conjunction with the companion book Knowledge, Values and Educational Policy which is also edited by Daniels et al, and which delves into the purpose and nature of schooling and knowledge, alongside the role of educational policy and educational research.
If you want a solid and broad understanding of how “the learner, pedagogy and schools interact to produce students’ identities and outcomes” then these books will provide you with that grounding. The overall message is that pedagogy is not solely concerned with teaching techniques, as some policy-makers wrongly think, but we must remind ourselves that pedagogy is an intellectual and a technical practice. And the book is useful in validating the need for a sociocultural approach to explaining how teachers and learners come to be the way they are in educational contexts, for sociocultural theories emphasise the idea that teachers and learners are products of their history and culture.
Educational Research: Creative Thinking and Doing (2nd Edition) by John O’Toole and David Beckett
Particularly for educational researchers interested in the Arts, the second edition of Educational Research by John O’Toole and David Beckett is an introductory textbook that gives plenty of food for thought about the massive area of research. Though the writers are writing from positions as drama and philosophy specialists from Australia, the book is useful for worldwide qualitative researchers in humanities, arts and sociology. O’Toole and Beckett provide the reader with a fresh and interesting insight by using anecdotes and examples to illustrate the nature of research processes and practices. This makes the textbook enjoyable to read and digest. We are encouraged to consider the reasons and contexts for conducting research, as well as the philosophical elements, and responsibilities we must have as researchers. Further the book provides a detailed section on methodologies and methods that may employed when doing research.
Newcomers to research should read Part A and Part B chronologically, for Part A outlines key ethical, philosophical and methodological issues to think about before conducting research. Newcomers to research will also find many succinct and clear definitions of key concepts in research. All researchers should find important guidelines and practical advice in Part B of the textbook where we are provided with a range of areas that need consideration on the part of the researcher: the literature review, data analysis, and the final report. Very useful for teachers who want to conduct educational research is the section on Research and the Practitioner.
The textbook is especially helpful in giving you tasks to help you along the research journey. For example, after reading about how to seek our relevant literature and critically review the literature, the authors encourage readers to respond to the reflective questions by considering how their research question relates to the sources they have reviewed. Minor details such as helpful side headings of key words make the textbook all the more accessible and quick to read to locate relevant information.
Like Educational Theories, Cultures and Learning by Daniels et al, these authors also subscribe to the idea that presenting your positionality is crucial, reminding us that just as teaching is a political, cultural and ideological act within a specific context, so is the act of researching. Daniels et al pointed out that their books emphasise that there is no quick-fix recipe book to solve educational problems. Similarly O’Toole and Beckett highlight that their book is not a tablet or a stone. These reminders about positionality and truths are useful for all researchers. Like Daniels et al, this book again ends each section with questions to consider, as well as references for wider reading.