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Conceptualizing research participants as 'Signifcant Others' in the construction of Empirical Knowledge
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Dolene Rossi
Qualitative research is recognised as a creative process and one which requires imaginative understanding of the studied phenomenon. Within this paradigm interpretations are constructed from and through engagement with research participants. Within the field of education the notion of ‘significant others’ is associated with a social constructivist view of learning. From this perspective knowledge is constructed through the processes of interaction and internalisation, which make it possible for learners to build on, and extend, previous knowledge and understanding. Consequently it is argued that constructivist theories of learning, specifically Vygotsky’s theory of learning and development, are relevant and have practical applications within the field of educational research. This chapter engages in educational, theoretical and methodological discussions about the role and importance of research participants. In this contribution participants, who are learners in an online, educational course, are conceptualised as ‘significant others’ with the capacity to contribute, not only, towards the construction of empirical knowledge but to also to serve as catalysts for transformational learning by researchers, who may be teachers.