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II. THE DOMAIN OF HUMANITIES-ORIENTED RESEARCH


a. What Is Humanities-Oriented Research in Education?


The Task Force coined the term “humanities-oriented” both to capture a constellation of educational research approaches for which the Social Science Standards are not suited, and to include emergent approaches to educational research not easily identifiable with traditional humanities disciplines. Because “humanities-oriented” has no history of usage, it possesses a relatively high degree of open-texture. While in most instances examples of humanities-oriented research are self-evident, such as those given in this document, this is not always the case. It is more difficult, for example, to classify as humanities-oriented or not instances of policy analysis with a significant normative dimension. The open-texture of “humanities-oriented” cannot be altogether eliminated. The Task Force did its best to provide criteria by which such judgments could be made by reviewers and recommends that a procedure be put in place whereby this document may evolve over time.

To define the domain of the research to which its standards apply, the Task Force looked to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for guidance. The first two categories of humanities-oriented research in education, described below, are adapted from NEH’s definition of the humanities. The third category is adapted from the specific charge to the Task Force from the AERA Council.

The term “humanities-oriented research in education” includes, but is not limited to, the following: (1) studies of education in which the issues identified and methods employed fall within the purview of traditional humanities disciplines such as linguistics, literary theory, history, jurisprudence, philosophy, and religion; (2) studies of education that have a relatively heavy interpretive-theoretical emphasis that fall within the general purview of social science disciplines such as cultural studies and some branches or subdisciplines of cultural anthropology, sociology, economics, and political science; and (3) an array of other approaches to studies in education such as critical, arts-based, and narrative that are not exclusively identified with any particular discipline but that more closely resemble the general methods of the humanities relative to the methods articulated in AERA’s Empirical Standards.


next section: "b. Purposes of Humanities-Oriented Research in Education"

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