The following is part of a series of blog posts I wrote while taking an education PhD course on Epistemologies. A summary of all posts in the series is included in this paper: Developing an Appreciative Understanding of Epistemologies in Educational Research: One Blogger’s Journey.
Axiology is the study of values (or of ones values). Our values affect how we do research and what we value in the results of our research. Our course on epistemology didn’t really have us reflect upon our values, however, I thought that the process of looking at my values from the perspective of my research was a good idea. It shouldn’t be surprising, given that my religion calls for the free and responsible search for truth and meaning, that I would be interested in exploring how my values affect what I believe to be new knowledge.
One value that is guaranteed to affect how I approach research, also associated with my religious beliefs, is a belief in the inherent worth and dignity of all people. I think this value will help ensure that whatever I design, it will be as inclusive as possible. In some ways, you can see this in my desire to create an Inclusive definition of mobile learning. I think it also is reflected in my desire to provide open courses, like MOOCs. I want my work to be accessible to all. I also want to ensure that I at able to at a minimum appreciate the different perspectives that people have.
The bigger question in axiology is, what do I value in research? That is, what is the purpose in research? For some people research is about developing an understanding about how something works, or how people behave. It is to investigate some phenomenon. For some research is an internal process, a desire to answer some burning internal curiosity. That isn’t me. Don’t get me wrong, I respect that type of research, but for me personally, I don’t internally value it.
Others research to inform policy – with policy being a way to make the world a better place. One professor, who does this kind of work, commented that he is not comfortable with defining how his research will affect practice or policy. He said that the did not want to take responsibility for how others used his research, which is understandable given that often research is misused in policy formation. But, on the other hand, I could not take such a distanced approach to my research. I see great value in this research, but for me I find it not concrete enough. I want to define how my research will change the world.
For me, value in research translates directly to an effect on practice. I will see my research as successful if it changes the way people teach or learn (for the better). For me, I will see my research as successful when I see that others are citing it in their research or using it in their practice.
What do you think the purpose of research is?