Epistemological Threads in the Fabric of Pedagogical Research

Apr. 02, 2012

Source: Teachers College Record, Volume 114 Number 4, 2012, p. 3-4.


The purpose of this article is to focus a philosophical lens on quality teaching in general, and the High-Quality Teaching (HQT) study in particular, an examination of what teachers do to help fourth- and fifth-grade students succeed in reading and mathematics.

The authors' intent is to demonstrate how such philosophical scrutiny can lead to a fuller understanding of high-quality teaching in its varied manifestations.

Research Design
This article is an analytical essay.

The authors first identify multiple philosophical threads (epistemological perspectives on knowledge) that can be used to characterize education broadly, and teaching specifically.

Then, the authors demonstrate how these epistemological perspectives have informed their understandings of quality teaching, the nature of mathematics and reading education, and the use of different research paradigms to investigate teaching and learning.

Finally, the authors apply these epistemological threads to the HQT study retrospectively, highlighting how identifying them helps them better understand their own work and the effects of the decisions that they made.


The authors' philosophical scrutiny leads us to conclude that efforts to engage in meaningful and informative research on teachers and teaching would be enhanced if the epistemological threads of such research were explicit and valued components in the conceptualization, design, implementation, and interpretation of research results.

Updated: May. 23, 2012