Learning Change

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Complexity, Methodology and Method: Crafting a Critical Process of Research

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This paper defines a theoretical framework aiming to support the actions and reflections of researchers looking for a ‘method’ in order to critically conceive the complexity of a scientific process of research. First, it starts with a brief overview of the core assumptions framing Morin’s “paradigm of complexity” and Le Moigne’s “general system theory”. Distinguishing ‘methodology’ and ‘method’, the framework is conceived based on three moments, which represent recurring stages of the spiraling development of research. The first moment focuses on the definition of the research process and its sub-systems (author, system of ideas, object of study and method) understood as a complex form of organization finalized in a specific environment. The second moment introduces a matrix aiming to model the research process and nine core methodological issues, according to a programmatic and critical approach. Using the matrix previously modeled, the third moment suggests conceiving of the research process following a strategic mindset that focuses on contingencies, in order to locate, share and communicate the path followed throughout the inquiry.

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Written by learningchange

September 4, 2014 at 3:40 pm

The Intelligence of Complexity

To better appreciate the contribution of the ‘paradigm of complexity’ in Educational sciences, this paper proposes a framework discussing its cultural and historical roots. First, it focuses on Giambattista Vico’s critique of René Descartes’ method, contrasting Cartesian’s principles (evidence, disjunction, linear causality and enumeration), with the open rationality of the ‘ingenium’ (capacity to establish relationships and contextualize). Acknowledging the teleological character of scientific inquiry (Bachelard) and the inseparability between ‘subject’ and ‘object’, the second part of the text explores the relevance of ‘designo’ (intentional design) implemented by Leonardo da Vinci in order to identify and formulate problems encountered by researchers. Referring to contemporary epistemologists (Bachelard, Valéry, Simon, Morin), this contribution finally questions the relationships between the ‘ingenio’ (pragmatic intelligence), the ‘designo’ (modeling method) and ethics. It proposes one to conceive the paradigm of complexity through the relationships it establishes between (pragmatic) action, (epistemic) reflection and meditation (ethics).

Because the Cartesian Method undermines ingenium and ingenium was given to human beings in order to understand, that is, to act intentionally… Giambattista Vico

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Written by learningchange

September 4, 2014 at 3:25 pm

The Complexity of Transdisciplinary Literature Reviews

The transdisciplinary literature review is an opportunity to situate the inquirer in an ecology of ideas. This article explores how we might approach this process from a perspective of complexity, and addresses some of the key challenges and opportunities. Four main dimensions are considered: (a) inquiry-based rather than discipline-based; (b) integrating rather than eliminating the inquirer from the inquiry; (c) meta-paradigmatic rather than intra-paradigmatic; and (d) applying systems and complex thought rather than reductive/disjunctive thinking.

What sets transdisciplinarity apart from multi- and inter-disciplinarity is that it is grounded in a fundamental reappraisal and reformulation of the nature of knowledge and inquiry. While considerable steps have been made to articulate the more theoretical dimensions of transdisciplinarity, a new fertile ground is the application of a transdisciplinary approach to education, specifically graduation education, and to very basic dimensions of scholarship such as the literature review. Interweaving dimensions of theory and practice, I have reflected on some of the issues that arise in the process of developing a transdisciplinary literature review, emphasizing in particular the creative/constructive and complexity dimensions of the process.

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Written by learningchange

September 4, 2014 at 2:59 pm

The Complexities of Interdisciplinarity: On Research and Education

The aim of this article is to open a conversation between the complexity & education community and the field of interdisciplinarity (as well as its close relative, interprofessionalism). It starts by describing two very different streams of thought in the literature on interdisciplinary research and education: One that focuses on the socio-cultural dynamics among disciplinary ‘knowers’ and one that emphasizes the complexity of the phenomena studied by these disciplinary knowers. Next, the author argues that recent epistemological thinking associated with the complexity & education community can help to integrate these streams of thought—offering a way for interdisciplinary inquiry to respect both the complexity of knowers and the complexity of the known.

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Read also: Interdisciplinarity and complexity – An evolving relationship

Written by learningchange

September 4, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Toward a cross-species Understanding of Empathy

Although signs of empathy have now been well documented in non-human primates, only during the past few years have systematic observations suggested that a primal form of empathy exists in rodents. Thus, the study of empathy in animals has started in earnest. Here we review recent studies indicating that rodents are able to share states of fear, and highlight how affective neuroscience approaches to the study of primary-process emotional systems can help to delineate how primal empathy is constituted in mammalian brains. Cross-species evolutionary approaches to understanding the neural circuitry of emotional ‘contagion or ‘resonance’ between nearby animals, together with the underlying neurochemistries, may help to clarify the origins of human empathy.

In ongoing cycles of cultural-historical progressions, some have seen periodic signs of increasing empathy in human affairs, albeit with periods of intensified self-serving greed. Indeed, the fuller manifestation of empathy in humans may have promoted the emergence of human rights movements within the past two centuries of human cultural evolution, as exemplified by democratization, emancipation of slaves, together with women’s and gay rights movements. Indeed, perhaps our lateralized neocortical specializations have differential capacities for empathy, with the left hemisphere being more capable of promoting self-serving social dominance and arrogance, whereas the right is more pro-socially attuned toward altruism and empathic views of social life. Thus, the emergence of modern conceptions of fairness may still need to compete with our natural tendencies toward racially and kin-biased social favoritism. Clearly we have much left to learn about  the ways of empathy. What we can be most confident of is that most neural knowledge about how empathy is constituted remains to be discovered.

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Written by learningchange

September 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm

The effect of Culture on Perception and Cognition: A conceptual framework

Researchers are increasingly recognizing the role of culture as a source of variation in many phenomena of central importance to consumer research. This review addresses a gap in cross-cultural consumer behavior literature by providing a review and conceptual analysis of the effects of culture on pre-behavioral processes (perception and cognition). The article highlights a series of important perceptual and cognitive differences across cultures and offers a new perspective of framing these differences among cultures—that of “culturally conditionedperceptual and cognitive orientations. The article addresses several theoretical issues and suggests directions for future research as well as managerial implications.

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Written by learningchange

September 3, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Collaborative Leadership: Emergence of Interactional Sense-Making Process as a Complex System

The article aims at explicating the emergence of human interactional sense‐making process within educational leadership as a complex system. The kind of leadership is understood as a holistic entity called collaborative leadership. There, sense‐making emerges across interdependent domains, called attributes of collaborative leadership. The attributes give rise to the complex system. They are suggested to be the very agents, i.e. both the source and the outcome of the synergetic sense‐making process. Hence, the agents are not the single persons involved who, however, supply the collective attributes that are modified through human interaction in a holistic way. For studying the emergence process in reality, a long‐term development process within an educational executive team was exploited. The team aimed at co‐creating novel leadership thinking and working practices for its new unit after a merger of separated schools. The emergent sense‐making process was examined through such agent‐attributes that were identified as attractors within the complex system. Moreover, it is argued that illuminating the complex system of collaborative leadership, this can help other leadership teams to better understand their own sense‐making processes in the increasingly complex settings of today.

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Thoughts on a Pedagogy OF Complexity

There is now a developed and extensive literature on the implications of the complexity frame of reference’ for education in general and pedagogy in particular. This includes a wide range of interesting contributions which consider how complexity can inform, inter alia, research on educational systems and theories of learning, as well as work dealing with specific pedagogical domains including physical education, clinical education and in particular the learning of clinical teams, and learning in relation to systems engineering. This material has contributed considerably to my thinking about the subject matter of this essay which is not the implications of complexity for pedagogy but rather how we might develop a pedagogy OF complexity and, more specifically, a pedagogy of what Morin has called ‘general’ (as opposed to ‘restricted’) complexity. In other words how should we teach the complexity frame of reference to students at all appropriate educational levels? This article is intended to contribute to a debate about the pedagogy of complexity by chucking some ideas forward and stimulating a response. It draws on what is available in the literature and on my own teaching experiences. Others will have other ideas – good! However, if the complexity frame of reference changes the way we think, and for me it certainly does, then it should also change not only what we teach but also the way we teach. A change is as good as rest after all.

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Written by learningchange

September 2, 2014 at 3:22 pm

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