(Kaplan) The Conduct of Inquiry [Tim]

Kaplan, A. (1964). The conduct of inquiry: Methodology for behavioral science. San Francisco: Chandler Pub. Co.

Kaplan describes Methodology in this chapter and breaks it up into four sections which all build off one another.  In this first section he highlights the subtle difference between logic-in-use and reconstructed logic.  The second section he contrasts logic versus psychology.  The third section reviews the task of methodologies and the chapter is wrapped up by summarizing “scientific methods” used in behavioral science.

The autonomy of inquiry is described in the chapters as a pursuit of truth.  Anything or anyone that is not part of the pursuit itself has no accountability to it, hence why it is autonomous.  While there are definitely distinct sciences, there is a connection between all of the various sciences.  These connections are due to shared techniques, concepts, laws, data, models, theories and even explanations.  Scientists who often focus, or “belong to” a specific field could find themselves could find themselves accidentally stumbling upon a discovery/encounter.  Logic is what every scientist strives or aspires for.  While this may be the case the author poses the confusion between logic being what validates scientific processes or validated by the process.  Regardless logic is often seen as how we think, while Psychology is seen as how we ought to think.  It is a classic contrast of norms versus description.  The differences are often seen in scientific studies and the methodologies taken.  While some may argue about a logical place to begin the experiment, others may argue the most sensible place to begin gives us a direction to follow.  Methodology is described in this chapter as the description, explanation and justification of the methods.  There are specific techniques used for each particular scientific field and limitations are associated with each one.  Scientific method is not technically “defined” by the author as he concedes no one definition would give a reader the true grasp of the term.  When this term is specific enough to be of use in methodology, it cannot be generalized for other scientific areas.  While this too has various techniques unique to its design, there are dilemmas, which pull this process in opposite directions.  Some of the dilemmas described are: search for data vs. formulating a hypothesis, construct theories vs. performing experiments, general vs. specific focus, etc…   The significance of “scientific method” is that data found in behavioral sciences are actions performed in perspectives, which give it meaning.

  1. More and more educators are incorporating interdisciplinary techniques in instruction, but how can this important skill be utilized in leadership and researched based education fields?
  2. In the contrast between how we think and how we ought to think, how does this idea play a part in education?  Does it enhance or hinder our progress?
  3. What connections are there between “psychologism” and the silos created in K-12/HE?
  4. How is the concept of “the drunkard’s search” used in the creation of Ed policies or Ed research?
  5. The accidental discovery of the X-ray came about because of a happy accident, what happy accidents have you found in your educational careers?

7 thoughts on “(Kaplan) The Conduct of Inquiry [Tim]

  1. I think that my biggest accidental discovery is that sometimes the less structured lectures/activities lend themselves to the most student understanding. Once I noticed this I have intentionally gone in to lessons without a rigid framework of what, or how I was going to cover things, but with a broad goal for the day. This has allowed me to adjust more readily to the needs of those in class,

    • While it is good to be flexible to meet the needs of all of your students, do you find it difficult to meet the needs of some of your less gifted students without planning ahead of time for various instructional options if one or two strategies are not working?

      • Less structured does not mean less prepared. I now have to have more preparation in order to meet the needs of all students. The “less gifted” usually don’t like the departure from traditional sit and listen lecture, because they now have to come to class prepared to participate, and it is on them to take advantage of the resources that I have made available to them. As well as their responsibility to ask questions if they aren’t understanding a concept.

  2. I have noticed that all students are different, and you really need to understand what they need when developing lectures/activities. Some students will respond to a less structured environment, while unstructured lectures can cause chaos for others.

    • I agree. In one class I have a few students more than 2 weeks ahead of schedule, most within a week of the scheduled topics, and one several weeks behind schedule. I think that the student behind schedule would be even further behind if I forced him to try and keep up with the scheduled pace of the class.

  3. I see how we think and how we ought to think playing into education every day. For example: When you look at the research, it clearly states that adolescents perform better later in the day. They are not at their peek performance at 8:00 in the morning. As educational leaders, we don’t change the start time for high school and intermediate schools because of all of the other political and logistical factors. What we ought to think should play a role in how we develop programs and design schools, but the “how we think” part gets in the way even though it is not always logical or supported by the research.

    • This is a great example of how logic and psychology conflict each other at times. While we could both debate back and forth the “best” start time for high school, the different points of view make the issue clearer.

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