Critical perspectives on methodology in pedagogic research

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The emancipatory dimension to higher education represents one of the sector’s most compelling characteristics, but it remains important to develop understanding of the sources of determination that shape practice. Drawing on critical realist perspectives, we explore generative mechanisms by which methodology in pedagogic research affects the sector’s emancipatory potential. In this, we critique the research that led to the Structure of Learning Outcomes taxonomy. Our analysis here enables us to offer a revised version of the taxonomy that is sensitive to horizontal knowledge structures. We further consider a set of studies employing approaches to research that were sensitive to variation in knowledge across disciplines, social relations, reflexivity, corporate agency and other considerations, enabling us to illuminate the stratified basis for our explanatory critique. There is potential for our analysis to assist in developing approaches that are distinctive to research into higher education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-454
Number of pages13
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2015


  • constructive alignment
  • critical realism
  • reflexivity
  • research into higher education
  • Structure of Learning Outcomes (SOLO) taxonomy


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