Webster Dictionary defines paradigm as "an example or pattern: small, self-contained, simplified examples that we use to illustrate procedures, processes, and theoretical points." The most quoted definition of paradigm is Thomas Kuhn's (1962, 1970) concept in The Nature of Science Revolution, i.e. paradigm as the underlying assumptions and intellectual structure upon which research and development in a field of inquiry is based. The other definitions in the research literature include:
Patton (1990): A paradigm is a world view, a general perspective, a way of breaking down the complexity of the real world. Paradigm is an interpretative framework, which is guided by "a set of beliefs and feelings about the world and how it should be understood and studied." (Guba, 1990). Denzin and Lincoln (2001) listed three categories of those beliefs: Ontology: what kind of being is the human being. Ontology deals with the question of what is real. Epistemology: what is the relationship between the inquirer and the known: "epistemology is the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge and the process by which knowledge is acquired and validated" (Gall, Borg, & Gall, 1996) Methodology: how do we know the world, or gain knowledge of it? When challenging the assumptions underlying positivism, Lincoln and Guba (2000) also identified two more categories that will distinguish different paradigms, i.e. beliefs in causality and oxiology. The assumptions of causality asserts the position of the nature and possibility of causal relationship; oxiology deals with the issues about value. Specific assumptions about research include the role of value in research, how to avoid value from influencing research, and how best to use research products (Baptiste, 2000).
Dill and Romiszowski (1997) stated the functions of paradigms as follows:
Define how the world works, how knowledge is extracted from this world, and how one is to think, write, and talk about this knowledge...
References: Baptiste, I. (2000). Calibrating the "instrument": Philosophical issues framing the researcher 's role. Class notes in ADTED 550.
Dills, C. R., & Romiszowski, A. J. (1997). The instructional development paradigm: An introduction. In C. R. Dills, and A. J. Romiszowski (Eds)., Instructional development paradigms. Englewood, NJ: Educational Technology Publications, Inc.
Gall, M. D., Borg, W. R., & Gall, J. P. (1996). Educational Research: An Introduction ( 6th ed.). White Plains, NY: Longman.
Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E., G. (2000). Paradigmatic controversies, contradictions and emerging confluences. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd ed., pp. 163-188). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Patton, M. Q. (1990). Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods ( 2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Smith, P., & Ragan, T. J. (1999). Instructional Design. 2nd ed. John, Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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