Conceptualizing the Researcher-Theory Relation

ACM Transactions on Computing Education(2022)

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In this article, I interrogate the relation between a researcher and the theories that the researcher gets involved with. I use my own trajectory as a computing education researcher as a way to make visible how different conceptions of this relation are shaped through prior encounters with different theories in the human sciences, particularly theories of mind, language, and knowledge. While modernist theories stemming from the Enlightenment that presuppose a disengaged researcher have predominated in CS and CER, theories of mind, language, and knowledge associated with pragmatist and phenomenological philosophical perspectives from the 20th Century challenge these modernist views. Under these newer theoretical perspectives, the researcher is always already involved with theory, even if such theory has withdrawn into the unnoticed background, a background that gives every research study its intelligibility. Recognizing that all researchers are caught in the grip of theory may help in both abandoning theories that no longer serve and staying open to adopt new and emergent theories.
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