Assessment: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Learning)

Pages: 28 (7785 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 28  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Leadership  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Interdisciplinary Approaches to Learning)

How does a paradigm differ from a theory? Include information from Kuhn regarding a paradigm so that you demonstrate your understanding of Kuhn regarding a paradigm.

In his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1970), Thomas Kuhn first used the term "paradigm" to describe the process that takes place on science when one major research paradigm is replaced by a newer one. According to Dobel, "For Kuhn, a paradigm is both an intellectual and a sociological construct. It provides a framework of basic assumptions about the nature of knowledge, rules of evidence and inference, and maps and directions for what constitutes important and vital problems" (2001, p. 166). While theories remain unconfirmed, it was Kuhn's perspective that paradigms provide "apparently permanent solutions to an outstanding set of problems" (1970, p. 44). Likewise, in contrast to a theory, Kuhn described the manner in which paradigms are used consensually (Thomas, 2007). For instance, according to Kuhn, there are two fundamental periods in the history of science: (a) "periods of normal science in which the relevant community operates unquestioningly within a generally accepted paradigm committed to the same rules and standards for scientific practice" (1970, p. 11), and (b) "periods of revolutionary science in which precisely such an underlying consensus is then undercut" (Nickles, 2003, p. 12). From Kuhn's perspective, if experiments are conducted that confirm a paradigm, everything is copasetic and the body of knowledge is enlarged; however, if experiments fail to confirm existing theories in a paradigm, it is assumed that the fault is attributable to problems in design or interpretation of the experiment (Thomas, 2007).

Progress in science represents a stumbling block for Kuhn, though, since he does not believe there is an authentic approach to assessing whether a given scientific paradigm is true, or truer, than another paradigm (Nickles, 2003). Similarly, one of Kuhn's overarching questions relates to this inability: "Inasmuch as several theories can sometimes account for all of the available facts or evidence, why then is one theory chosen over another? It is here that Kuhn is at his best, invoking the non-cognitive factors involved in theory-choice" (Guarino, 2003, p. 44).

In contrast to a paradigm, Kuhn maintains that "one theory is often preferred to another because of conative rather than intellective factors such as one's attachment to a particular system, the time one has invested in it, its importance for one's peers, the methodology acceptable to the professional guild, the political allegiances of thinkers, their class interests, indoctrination, and so the list continues" (Guarino, 2003, p. 44). Moreover, because of this inability to rely on truthfulness, Kuhn resorts to new paradigms to address these gaps in knowledge. In this regard, Nickles notes that, "Unable to appeal to truth, Kuhn appeals to puzzle-solving: the ability of a new paradigm to provide answers to questions (how to do certain calculations, how to explain certain experiments, etc.) to which previous paradigms were not able to respond" (2003, p. 56).

The manner in which the solar system operates with the earth circling the sun, for example, would represent a strong paradigm for Kuhn. In this regard, Dobel notes that, "A strong paradigm focuses researchers on critical issues, building an edifice of knowledge with an internal coherence" (2001, p. 166). Over time, such strong paradigms become the framework in which further studies are made and serve to focus research in certain ways. According to Dobel, over time, paradigms become "normal science" wherein "Textbooks enshrine the paradigm that is handed on through practice and training; it becomes a worldview that gives meaning, order, and significance to facts and directs action, while determining what constitutes worthy knowledge and projects" (2001, p. 166). Finally, in sharp contrast to the narrow focus of a theory, a paradigm also provides the framework in which collaborative efforts can be accomplished. For instance, Dobel notes that, "When established, it becomes almost taken for granted and it enables a community of practitioners and scholars to work together on shared projects. It forges a complex web of knowledge, problems, procedures, and community" (2001, p. 166).

B.

Do you feel it is possible to have a leadership paradigm? State your position and defend it.

Given its importance to evolution and development of human history, it is not surprising that a great deal of research has been focused on leadership over the years, and the body of knowledge concerning what attributes and traits contribute to superior leadership has become ponderous as a result. It is possible to glean a fundamental leadership paradigm from this body of knowledge, though, provided that it is regarded as a framework in which to understand what motivates people and how various leadership methods have been shown to affect performance rather than a cookbook-type set of recipes that can be pulled out and applied when necessary. In fact, empirical observations and many authorities suggest that in sharp contrast to consistently effective leaders, there is no "one-size-fits-all" type of leadership that is equally effective in all circumstances. In other words, consistently effective leaders will likely draw on a leadership paradigm that provides them with the leadership style that is best suited to a given situation that transcends mere intuition or experience-based approaches.

C.

Do you feel there is trend away from the position presented by Kuhn in today's society?

Although there are some indications that Kuhn's perspective is being relegated to yet another paradigm, it is reasonable to suggest that his work remains influential today. For instance, according to Guarino, "Kuhn's opus magnum is now over 40 years old. But his thought continues to spark controversy and the insights of his post-positivist manifesto continue to call forth important works of commentary and analysis" (2003, p. 44). In fact, although current trends may lead to various tangential conceptualizations, many scholars remain highly influenced by Kuhn's 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. For instance, Franklin reports that:

Interest in Kuhn's book has not waned. The Index is now online, and records one-hundred citations to the book for 1999 -- plus another four-hundred in the Social Sciences Citation Index. To call the tone of most of these citations reverential would be something of an understatement. It is reported that Structure is Al Gore's favorite book, and William Safire's New Political Dictionary has an article on 'paradigm shift,' a phrase popularized by Kuhn, which reports both Bush (senior) and Clinton being much impressed with its usefulness. (2000, para. 1)

Indeed, the notion of a "paradigm" as conceptualization by Kuhn remains a fixture in scientific and educational communities of practice in ways that continue to change the way things are done and how the world is viewed (Forster, 1998).

Area II: (Research Methods)

Research study usually advances the idea that research, or any disciplined inquiry, is carried out within the constraints of control and randomization.

a.

Define and discuss what is meant by control and randomization in the context of leadership research.

In scientific research, the original meaning of the term "control" was to establish some type of check or comparison by which the results of an experiment could be measured. In this regard, Pedhazur and Schmelkin advise, "The reason is that at least one comparison is necessary in order to assess the validity of a finding or an inference made from it. This is also why control connotes in the minds of many modern-day researchers and readers the use of a 'control group,' one that did not receive the treatment being credited with affecting the dependent variable" (1991, p. 212). According to Howson and Urbach, "A prognostic factor has been 'controlled for' in a trial when it is distributed in equal measure in both the test and the comparison situations. So, for example, in a clinical trial involving a disease whose progress or intensity is known to depend on the patient's age would be controlled for that prognostic factor when the test and control groups have similar age structures" (2005, p. 185).

Another good example of control in experiments is provided by Bogartz who reports that, "As an extraneous variable, such as temperature variation in the experimental room, is discovered, experimental control of the variable is exerted, say, by introducing a thermostatically controlled heating or cooling device, in order to hold the range of variation of the extraneous variable within acceptable limits" (1994, p. 5). Likewise, control for the effects of time of day can be achieved by having all of the study's subjects exercise during the same period of the day with testing being conducted in a sound-secured facility (Bogartz, 1999).

Randomization, on the other hand, involves first dividing an experimental study's subjects into groups using a random process so the researcher can treat all of the groups as being equivalent (Neuman, 2003). In this regard, Gliner and Morgan report that, "Random selection has to do with who the participants in the study will be, and how they are selected. In the ideal situation, the sample is selected to be representative of all the possible… [END OF PREVIEW]

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