My Dilemmas on Research Paradigms

I close the SPSS program on my computer after I finished analysis my quantitative data. I start to look at the data and I am confused how to use those data to give valuable information of my students’ perceptions? How those means, standard deviation, and reliability could represent my students’ voice? I am looking back to my interviews and observations transcript and try to find out the ideas on my students’ perceptions. I really want to include postmodern paradigm on it. But, is it possible? Again, could I represent my findings under different paradigms which seems contradict each others? Should I put dialectical thinking on it or just let those be separated? And I am questioning myself and trying to understand how those qualitative data represent on my qualitative data? Read through the numbers make me mystify and look at my interviews and observations data also make me float. I just sit down in front of my computer and doing nothing.

That is my recent experience doing research on post-positivist paradigm. I face the dilemma under my understanding on different paradigms. If it allows combining the paradigms, why I found it is very difficult? Should I stand on one paradigm?. Moreover, within my undergraduate program, I start to learn conducting the action research which bring me the ideas of meaningful interpretation of interviews and observations. Even though, I realize now, it was still shaped by positivist paradigm under the “triangulation” data that I did, but I never had experiences conduct research on positives paradigm and worked on list of quantitative data in education. Therefore, since I explore the limitation of positivist paradigm, I didn’t know how dilemma on it. Now, I can feel it, I don’t want my research study just represent the list of tables which generate the findings on it. I want give more valuable information on it. I don’t want the result studies just became the information without engaging and influence the readers. I comprehend, it is difficult under this paradigm, but I tried to combine it with the interviews and observations. Later, I found that the quantitative data gave me the framework of the findings, but observations, interviews, and my own experiences are more powerful and meaningful information.

I remember when I did my undergraduate and my lecturer just taught me the positivist paradigm under the research methodology unit. As a result, most students worked on quantitative data within their thesis in education. At that time, I started questioning myself how can the students’ learning are isolated from others factors as well as chemistry experiment in laboratory. Relationship and comparison between the certain teaching methods and students’ achievement became the main interest on students’ research. Until now, I just knew that it is still shaped research studies in my university. Since, I learn several paradigms in research project unit, I just speechless, how can my university research studies just stand on the positivist paradigm? I realize my challenges on transforming the existing framework of doing research in my university. Especially, the research under postmodern paradigm will be contradicted with the common perceptions on doing research. “That is not the research”, “how can subjectivity shaped the research?”, “it is not valid”, those comments could be my colleagues and students’ respond if I introduce the research studies under postmodern paradigm. Therefore, I really want to have depth understanding and strong beliefs on this paradigm

Moreover, my experience doing research an autoethnography engages me into the reflection process which stimulates me to envisioning myself not only on my pedagogical practices, but also my individual life. However, it became dilemma for me since I realized I will be back to Indonesia which seems that not support me to “extreme” transform from the existing framework. I realize my dilemma when I worked on quantitative data, but I couldn’t ignore the beliefs of my colleagues and students which recognize these types of data as “accepted” result for research studies. Therefore, I am appreciated the different paradigms which are introduced within my master degree. Those experiences give me the valuable experiences for envisioning myself.

Reflect on Habermas three interests, I plan my “transformation process” within this dilemma. My struggle on the influence of each paradigm provides opportunities apply my dialectical thinking. Even though, I also still questioning myself, is it dialectical thinking or inconsistency? Rather than looking the contradiction between those paradigms, this time I prefer looking them as complementary each others. But, it will be the initiation of my learning process to empower myself. Under the technical interest, I plan to explore the learning environment questionnaire which will be involved the observations and interviews data on it. On this stage, I need to understand the ideas of mixed data on “quantitative and qualitative”. It will represent my initiation process to deal with the reality. Next, under the ‘practical/communicative” interest, I will explore the concept of personal and social constructivism throughout the exploration of students’ alternative conceptions, and then engage them throughout the meaningful learning experiences. Finally, my dream on envisioning my future pedagogical practices to be critical and reflective chemistry educator will be emphasized under the postmodern paradigm which I found it’s very challenging. I will introduce this paradigm to provide my colleagues and my students the other paradigms to view the world. I plan to apply the integration of Habermas three interests point of view within my research studies. I realize the dilemmas on it, but let it be my learning process and let it be my transformation process.


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