Research in Deaf Education: Contexts, Challenges, and Considerations

Research in Deaf Education: Contexts, Challenges, and Considerations Research in Deaf Education: Contexts, challenges, and considerations may mark a turning point in the rigor and relevance of research in deaf education. This edited volume makes a unique contribution to existing literature in the field of deaf education both as a comprehensive resource for thoughtful and balanced approaches to research design and implementation, and as a project designed to exemplify the principles of “rigor and relevance”. The book begins with foundational chapters that describe the history, contexts, and unique considerations for research in deaf education, including an overview of the history (Chapter 1), methods (Chapter 2), and demographics (Chapter 5); as well as the roles of researcher positionality (Chapter 3) and the involvement of the deaf community (Chapter 4) in the research endeavor. These introductory chapters are followed by 11 chapters focused on specific methods or approaches to research in deaf education, and bookended by an introduction and conclusion written by the editors. Brief and well-argued, the introduction and conclusion create a compelling case for the profound potential of a generation of diverse, well-informed researchers in deaf education—a generation that will come to rely on this text as their starting point. The lineup of contributing authors is diverse with respect to region, gender, culture, language, perspective, and experience in the field. Yet, all of the nearly 30 contributing authors are currently active, eminent researchers with hard-earned track records for generating meaningful knowledge through research efforts. This is a strong indication that the editors’ decision to curate and showcase multiple perspectives has and can serve as a foundational design principle within an ethic of “rigor and relevance”. Each author not only offers clear, comprehensive and well-edited insights to guide similarly impactful work; they also provide examples and evidence that it can be done despite the traditional challenges of research in the field. Future editions of this text could include chapters that examine more qualtiative, interpretive approaches to deaf education research—highlighting those that foreground Deaf epistemologies and Deaf studies as theoretical lenses and methodological tools. Similarly, a future edition might include a discussion of techniques for statistical analysis with small sets of heterogenous data. In the editors’ introduction, Cawthon and Garberoglio note that the ultimate goal for the volume is to “improve the rigor, relevance and generalizability of research in deaf education” (p. x). Though generalizability is at least an implied goal of most education research, I would argue that a larger, more powerful goal is addressed by both the design and contents of this text. Where generalizability is either impossible because of sample sizes, or unhelpful given the heterogenous nature of a population, researchers increasingly consider “fruitfulness” (Potter & Wetherell, 1987; Tracy 1995) as a criterion for quality—especially within qualitative research paradigms. Tracy (1995) suggests that fruitful qualitative research is “intellectually implicative for the scholarly community. It should suggest productive ways to reframe old issues, create links between previously unrelated issues, and raise new questions that are interesting and merit attention” (p. 210). In other words, the practical and intellectual impact of findings is not limited to the extent to which they predict or could be extended to other cases (generalizability), but the extent to which they influence understandings, policies and practices that improve outcomes in many cases. This concept of fruitfulness—over and above generalizability—more accurately captures the ultimate goal of the research endeavors outlined in this edited volume. As the editors and many contributors note, researching with and about a small, heterogenous population, often challenges the assumptions required for generalizability. As Enns, Antia, Guardino, and Cannon point out across chapters focused on case studies and single-subject designs, sometimes an emphasis on the particular, rather than the general, is what leads to the most powerful and far-reaching insights for the field and beyond. This text as a whole takes the theoretical and methodological challenges of researching a small, heterogeneous and socially marginalized population as its starting point by presenting both the context to understand the uniqueness of the field and the considerations required to work within and beyond theoretical and methodological challenges. Rather than simply reiterating, skirting or minimizing the challenges of ethical and rigorous research in this context, the editors address them head on by including chapters aimed at developing readers’ understanding of the population (Chapters 2, 3, and 4) and chapters that describe how to create the conditions for relevant research by developing American Sign Language (ASL) measures, translating ASL for research purposes, and synthesizing existing research (Chapters 7, 8–15). As the editors note in their introduction, research in deaf education has enormous potential to fuel a mutually beneficial exchange with education research in general; yet the parallels, connections and disconnections are not yet well articulated to or known among many journal editors, grantmakers or cross-disciplinary collaborators. To this end, both scholars and consumers of education research in deaf education will benefit from the intentional framing of deaf education within the broader field of education research and education research methodologies, which reoccurs across all chapters. This framing and the collection of contributed chapters representing diverse perspectives and approaches is unique in the field. This volume meets its own criteria of rigor and relevance by virtue of its carefully curated collection of perspectives, its transparent discussion of challenges and its comprehensive description of the contexts of research in deaf education. Both in design and in action, Cawthon and Gaberoglio’s Research in Deaf Education provides resources to design and implement rigorous relevant and fruitful research in deaf education. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education Oxford University Press

Research in Deaf Education: Contexts, Challenges, and Considerations

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Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
ISSN
1081-4159
eISSN
1465-7325
D.O.I.
10.1093/deafed/enx053
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Research in Deaf Education: Contexts, challenges, and considerations may mark a turning point in the rigor and relevance of research in deaf education. This edited volume makes a unique contribution to existing literature in the field of deaf education both as a comprehensive resource for thoughtful and balanced approaches to research design and implementation, and as a project designed to exemplify the principles of “rigor and relevance”. The book begins with foundational chapters that describe the history, contexts, and unique considerations for research in deaf education, including an overview of the history (Chapter 1), methods (Chapter 2), and demographics (Chapter 5); as well as the roles of researcher positionality (Chapter 3) and the involvement of the deaf community (Chapter 4) in the research endeavor. These introductory chapters are followed by 11 chapters focused on specific methods or approaches to research in deaf education, and bookended by an introduction and conclusion written by the editors. Brief and well-argued, the introduction and conclusion create a compelling case for the profound potential of a generation of diverse, well-informed researchers in deaf education—a generation that will come to rely on this text as their starting point. The lineup of contributing authors is diverse with respect to region, gender, culture, language, perspective, and experience in the field. Yet, all of the nearly 30 contributing authors are currently active, eminent researchers with hard-earned track records for generating meaningful knowledge through research efforts. This is a strong indication that the editors’ decision to curate and showcase multiple perspectives has and can serve as a foundational design principle within an ethic of “rigor and relevance”. Each author not only offers clear, comprehensive and well-edited insights to guide similarly impactful work; they also provide examples and evidence that it can be done despite the traditional challenges of research in the field. Future editions of this text could include chapters that examine more qualtiative, interpretive approaches to deaf education research—highlighting those that foreground Deaf epistemologies and Deaf studies as theoretical lenses and methodological tools. Similarly, a future edition might include a discussion of techniques for statistical analysis with small sets of heterogenous data. In the editors’ introduction, Cawthon and Garberoglio note that the ultimate goal for the volume is to “improve the rigor, relevance and generalizability of research in deaf education” (p. x). Though generalizability is at least an implied goal of most education research, I would argue that a larger, more powerful goal is addressed by both the design and contents of this text. Where generalizability is either impossible because of sample sizes, or unhelpful given the heterogenous nature of a population, researchers increasingly consider “fruitfulness” (Potter & Wetherell, 1987; Tracy 1995) as a criterion for quality—especially within qualitative research paradigms. Tracy (1995) suggests that fruitful qualitative research is “intellectually implicative for the scholarly community. It should suggest productive ways to reframe old issues, create links between previously unrelated issues, and raise new questions that are interesting and merit attention” (p. 210). In other words, the practical and intellectual impact of findings is not limited to the extent to which they predict or could be extended to other cases (generalizability), but the extent to which they influence understandings, policies and practices that improve outcomes in many cases. This concept of fruitfulness—over and above generalizability—more accurately captures the ultimate goal of the research endeavors outlined in this edited volume. As the editors and many contributors note, researching with and about a small, heterogenous population, often challenges the assumptions required for generalizability. As Enns, Antia, Guardino, and Cannon point out across chapters focused on case studies and single-subject designs, sometimes an emphasis on the particular, rather than the general, is what leads to the most powerful and far-reaching insights for the field and beyond. This text as a whole takes the theoretical and methodological challenges of researching a small, heterogeneous and socially marginalized population as its starting point by presenting both the context to understand the uniqueness of the field and the considerations required to work within and beyond theoretical and methodological challenges. Rather than simply reiterating, skirting or minimizing the challenges of ethical and rigorous research in this context, the editors address them head on by including chapters aimed at developing readers’ understanding of the population (Chapters 2, 3, and 4) and chapters that describe how to create the conditions for relevant research by developing American Sign Language (ASL) measures, translating ASL for research purposes, and synthesizing existing research (Chapters 7, 8–15). As the editors note in their introduction, research in deaf education has enormous potential to fuel a mutually beneficial exchange with education research in general; yet the parallels, connections and disconnections are not yet well articulated to or known among many journal editors, grantmakers or cross-disciplinary collaborators. To this end, both scholars and consumers of education research in deaf education will benefit from the intentional framing of deaf education within the broader field of education research and education research methodologies, which reoccurs across all chapters. This framing and the collection of contributed chapters representing diverse perspectives and approaches is unique in the field. This volume meets its own criteria of rigor and relevance by virtue of its carefully curated collection of perspectives, its transparent discussion of challenges and its comprehensive description of the contexts of research in deaf education. Both in design and in action, Cawthon and Gaberoglio’s Research in Deaf Education provides resources to design and implement rigorous relevant and fruitful research in deaf education. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

Journal

The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf EducationOxford University Press

Published: Apr 1, 2018

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