Benefits of naturalistic methods in research in science education



The author argues that naturalistic (e.g., qualitative, ethnographic) research is appropriate for studying science education. Field methods such as indepth interviewing and observation are used, and the logic of the inquiry is inductive rather than hypothetico-deductive. The stages of naturalistic research are explained and illustrated with material from the NSF-sponsored Case Studies in Science Education. Problems in traditional research methods (construct validity, ecological generalization) are presented as justification for inductive models or models based on multiple methods, perspectives, and operations.