Education research and the chimera of secure knowledge

J. Swann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Swann (2005), refereed for and published in a well-respected and internationally distributed UK-based journal, extends aspects of the argument of Swann (2003). It too makes an original contribution to the debate about epistemological and methodological issues in education research. Drawing on Karl Popper’s evolutionary epistemology and her own experience as an action researcher, Swann challenges the view that the improvement of educational practice requires a secure – sound, if not certain – base of knowledge about ‘what works’ in schools and classrooms, and that education research is a means by which such knowledge may be produced. She discusses the limitations and appropriate use of evidence, and proposes a model of research in which imaginative criticism is the key methodological concept and intellectual boldness is a virtue. In the course of the argument, New Challenges for Educational Research, a report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2003), is critiqued.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-47
Number of pages16
JournalHigher Education Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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