Research Papers

Document Type

Conference Paper


Understanding our epistemological perspective when conducting engineering education research is important for situating the knowledge claims we are making. Depending on that perspective, we may situate the knowledge claims as definitive, representing an absolute Truth, or as contingent, representing a contextualized truth. Traditionally, quantitative research has been identified as positivist, while qualitative research is diverse in its epistemological assumptions, ranging from positivist to interpretivist to Critical and the “posts.” Thus, results from quantitative studies are often treated as generalizable, absolute, and decontextualized, while quantitative studies are treated as particular, contingent, and contextualized. Assessment instruments, being quantitative, are associated with positivist forms of knowledge. We argue that it is more appropriate to treat quantitative assessments as interpretivist. Development of assessments is based on particularized knowledge that is created through a dialogue between the developers and the pilot participants. Interpretation of assessment results is dependent on the particular contexts in which they are used.


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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.