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“What Is “Good” Education Research?” by Hostetler


Hostetler’s argument states that education must improve the general quality of education and at the same time provide acts of service to society at large. The scholar’s position rests on three pillars: the emphasis on whether a human better the current situation of people’s lives. His second argument is that ‘good’ research should trigger curiosity and raise new questions, thereby equipping and expanding the researcher’s knowledge before starting their research. His third pillar is acknowledging the existence of limitations to one’s knowledge (Hostetler, 2005). According to the article, the writer is perceived to be uncertain of the steps that should be taken in the conduction of research in the field of education. This is because the research has a direct impact on the active persona in education who are educators and the student. He further states that readers may get annoyed by merely stating that those carrying out the research are ignorant of society’s well-being and agree that their study-related problems have been solved through research.

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However, the scholar’s doubt is portrayed on whether the matter’s concern is taken with the seriousness it deserves. Hostetler tries to clarify his thesis by the use of an example in his article. He states how vigorously a huge number of people support the voice of all pupils and students to attend school but don’t define what exactly is being taught to them. This assumption tends to be some form of general education that Noddings strongly opposes. Hostetler’s article indicates that each topic has its specific and distinct requirements that satisfy its style of research. The evaluation aspect ought to balance generated conclusions from the research taken.

The scholar shows in his article that occasionally during research the study being carried out only solves the research in regards to only one view of the matter being researched. Hostetler explains his theory through the use of an example in the article that shows how education facilities strain to enhance decrease in levels of school violence but fail to appreciate and reward students who observe and maintain a high level of obedience and discipline in schools simply because that is how the system is supposed to be.

In comparison to Kuhn’s scientific research, it is noted that the two ideas are quite similar. According to Kuhn, the basic principle is the predicate ability which simply means that it can be measured both regarding its amount and quality (Kuhn, 2012). At times, the unknown quantities are different from the expected outcome. In such instances, those carrying out the research try to interpret the pattern formed by the unknown figures by recording what is most essential in their research and carrying out tests to determine whether the non-quantitative records may impact their outcome.

Popper’s theory views science as an appropriate field to undertake risky projects. Scientific theories are texted without considering the societies’ preferences socially. The constant subjection of approaches to severe criticism guarantees that though we can never be certain that we are getting closer to the truths, we can learn from our mistakes. The mistakes made during research would surely not be the solution to the difficulty being researched but is an essential part of gaining more knowledge and expanding one’s knowledge horizon, which is among the targets during research, as Hostetler stated in his article.

Hostetler states that education-related aims must be investigated since the facts used to clear their purposes can be contested. Concerning and comparison, Kuhn and Popper state that the traditional scientific change method is entirely inaccurate and claims that the principles regulating the scientific change are often internal to the theory at any given time. According to Kuhn’s radical view, experimental laws supplying the standards by which theories are evaluated as to their adequacy and approaches, in a sense, give the measure of observations (Jones, 1981). The statements above indicate that the research method and sources should be credible and reliant on outcome information and research activities’ accuracy.

About the conditions for ‘good’ research, Kuhn believes that when different paradigms refer to similar events or processes, the researchers contradict themselves since the two occasions are not the same. For example, he states that a rock on a string and a pendulum are different, whereas they would likewise consider the two examples since they share specific characteristics. Kuhn replies that the tests referred to a rock being tied on a string because specific tests show the two may be similar concerning physics laws. According to Kuhn, it is clear that we are wrong to assume that the two are alike due to the one factor they share that both swing in a similar way (Kuhn, 2012). This indicates that theories might be human-made interpretations in some way perceived to be the causes of events in research. A possibility one would be left wondering about.

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On the same note, Hostetler similarly states that education historically needs to be looked into, which is quite similar to Kuhn’s case but in different aspects. Early in the twentieth century, the need to study education scientifically brought about the separation of reason and value (Kuhn, 2012). However, these trends have been reversed in recent decades. The philosophy of science exposes the hypothetical separation of reasons and value. From the explanation above, it is clear that the condition in which one carries out research is vital, ranging from pre-assumptions and paradigms, among other essential factors for efficiency. This diminishes the actual worth of good research since the outcome is only viewed from one perspective.

At some point, Karl Popper saw the urgency for adjustment in scientific research but still was in contrast with Hostetler’s theory of ‘good research.’ Popper stated that one of the shortcomings of scientific study was demarcation which is any strictly defined separation. Misleading perceptions that scientific study is limited to other concepts apart from psychology, logic, and metaphysics. The author further refutes Newton’s postulation that is based on pure observation. The author argues that Newton’s theory is limiting as observation is subject to personal biases, and linked to personal reality. Again, observation as indicated in psychology is influenced by a known phenomenon in our surroundings. For example, the perception of a man walking on the television will be different from a cheetah or a tiger (Fu et al., 2020). Popper focuses on the importance of the approach and argues that “a system (is) empirical and scientific only if it is capable of being tested by experience” (p. 504). This contrasts with Hostetler’s explanation since Hostetler’s call to open up research is that, for Popper, experience does not necessarily mean human well-being.

The two authors, Popper and Hostetler have divergent viewpoints based on their reasoning. Popper argues that the research should not be limited to skepticism, while Hostetler emphasizes the validity of the analysis and focuses mostly on human health. Generally, Hostetler focuses on the impact of the study on society, by generating ideas that will help see the community ahead. According to Hostetler, any research should focus on examining possible strategies for solving challenges faced by humans (Hostetler, 2005). He believes that the caution and close observance given to experiments threaten the human race, thus having a more negative impact socially rather than a positive influence.

The conclusion derived from this article on good research is that there is still plenty to reveal from the study of education about Hostetler’s article. It also adds up to conclude that Hostetler’s piece should be used as a point of reference for educators and students and must be given credit in the field of study of education. However, it is not recommended for all researchers to conduct their studies on a specific ethical issue while ignoring other fields. It also should be realized that the results obtained are not exactly solutions to the mysteries that occurred but are new beginnings to be explored and investigated. The only purpose of the study is to find perfect results and help society in better-tier lives.


In conclusion, Popper and Hostetler applied their logical reasoning in their studies in bringing to light the role of research in society. Hostetler is systematic in his approach as he emphasizes the need for various studies to focus on nurturing human life.


Hostetler, K. (2005). What is “good” education research? Educational Researcher, 34(6), 16-21.

Jones, G. (1981). Kuhn, Popper, and Theory Comparison. Dialectica, 35(4), 389-397. Web.

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Kuhn, T. S. (2012). The structure of scientific revolutions (4th ed.). University of Chicago Press.

Ponterotto, J. (2005). Qualitative research in counseling psychology: A primer on research paradigms and philosophy of science. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52(2), 126-136.

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