Critical realism: a philosophical foundation for research in integrative CALL
AuthorFarmer, Roderick A.; Gruba, Paul
Source TitleProceedings,11th International CALL Conference on CALL and Research Methodologies
AffiliationArts: Horwood Language Centre
Engineering: Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering
Document TypeConference Paper
CitationsFarmer, R. A., & Gruba, P. (2004). Critical realism: a philosophical foundation for research in integrative CALL. In, Proceedings, 11th International CALL Conference on CALL and Research Methodologies, University of Antwerp, Belgium.
Access StatusOpen Access
Underpinning each methological approach there lies a series of assumptions about the nature of reality that, in turn, ground and limit knowledge about what exists. The foundations of integrative CALL investigations—that is, research situated within networked environments and focused on social interaction—arguably run along the continuum between positivism and social constructivism. Neither of these two endpoints, however, provides a satisfactory ontological and epistemological basis for justifying and evaluating methodological choices. Critics argue that positivism promotes a naive view that knowledge directly corresponds with truth; as for social constructivism, critics find flaws in that such a view only sees truth as relative to a specific framing within a particular community of practice. Critical realism, however, provides a way to examine social phenomena using an objective ontology (that reality can exist independent of the researcher) and a subjective epistemology (that criteria for evaluation are not neutral). Critical realism addresses the flaws of classical realism and postmodernism approaches by engendering both positivistic and interpretivisit techniques. The aim of this paper is to introduce critical realism as a viable philosophy to underpin integrative CALL research. To achieve this aim, we first discuss two major failings of Social Constructivism and suggest how their significance in constructing a transdisciplinary framework within integrative CALL research. Subsequently, we elucidate the core principles of Critical Realism and discuss the application of these principles in resolving these posited weaknesses. By adopting a critical realist stance, we argue, CALL researchers can better recognize the interaction between structure and agency in analyses of computer usage within integrative pedagogies.
Keywordscritial realism; philosophy; Computer-Assisted Language Learning; CALL; transdisciplinary; social constructivism
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