This meta-analysis seeks to critically examine the qualitative research being published in influential journals in the field of international and comparative education in order to determine whether qualitative research has remained true to the constructivist paradigm and its theoretical and philosophical underpinnings. Decades after the heated paradigmatic debates within the field of education in the 1980’s, we seek to examine whether predictions that the constructivist paradigm would be pushed out by the call for post-positivist, quantifiable, data-driven research have come to fruition. Based on a review of all qualitative research published in the past three volumes of five influential journals in the field, we conclude that while qualitative articles are represented in approximately equal numbers as quantitative articles, there are key elements of the constructivist paradigm that are largely absent from these qualitative articles. In particular, our conclusion attempts to address the concern that qualitative researchers are failing to address the issue of researcher positionality in their qualitative work.


Qualitative Research, Comparative and International Education, Research Paradigms, Research Methodology, Paradigm Wars

Author Bio(s)

Romina B. da Costa received her BA in Anthropology from Yale University in 2007 and her EdM from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2012. She is currently a PhD student in International Education Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park. Interested in issues of intersectionality of race and gender, Romina seeks to apply qualitative methods in education research, so as to better understand the underlying complexities behind observed social phenomena. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: rcosta2@umd.edu.

Anne Spear is a PhD student in the International Education Policy program at University of Maryland. Her research interests are gender and education, literacy curriculum development, global leadership and social change. She completed an US Peace Corps assignment as a Girls’ Education and Empowerment Volunteer in Burkina Faso as part of a Master's Degree in International Studies at University of Wyoming. In addition, Ms. Spear is a certified teacher and holds a M.S.ED in Education and Social Change at the University of Miami. Ms. Spear can be contacted at aspear@umd.edu.

Stephanie M. Hall is a PhD student at the University of Maryland College Park. She holds an MA in Educational Leadership and Administration from the George Washington University and a BS in Middle Grades Education from Reinhardt College. Her research focuses on higher education access and teacher education policies in both Brazil and the United States, with particular interest in the role of privatization in the higher education sector. Contact: halls@umd.edu.

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