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previous section: "e. Empirical Aspects of Humanities-Oriented Research in Education"

f. The Concept of Humanities-Oriented Standards


There are several unique problems in recommending standards for humanities-oriented research. The first is making a determination of what is to be included within the category in the first place. As noted above, all definitions of “humanities” include history and philosophy, many include some branches of sociology and cultural anthropology, and some include certain approaches within economics and political science. Developing standards for a domain of research about which there is considerable debate is a daunting task; consideration of standards for humanities-oriented approaches that cut across traditional disciplinary and methodological boundaries, such as narrative inquiry, arts-based education, and the politics of knowledge, is even more challenging. By necessity, then, the Task Force has examined only some of the possible disciplines and interdisciplinary areas in developing standards for humanities-oriented research in AERA publications, and believes that these will be illustrative of standards that might be adapted for still other disciplines.

A second problem encountered in developing standards for humanities-oriented research is that the established disciplines often are defined more by the problems they investigate than by their methods. While checklists of how to do research in one or another of the humanities are occasionally published, they tend not to deal with central methodological issues. Philosophy, for example, denotes a set of problems but not a method for attacking them, as is also largely the case for history, sociology, and cultural anthropology.

The third problem in developing standards is that not all forms of humanities-oriented research readily lend themselves to developing prescription or recommendations. Indeed, some approaches to humanities-oriented research are defined more by the challenges they pose to the conventions and norms of research methods -- and purposes -- than by their conformity with regard to either. The familiar vocabulary associated with conduct of experimental research simply does not offer guidance in developing standards for research that is designed not to establish proof, but to illuminate, critique, and value education phenomena.


next section: "g. Controversy Within Humanities-Oriented Research"

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