The Nature of Educational Theories : Goal-Directed, Equivalence and Interlevel Theories book cover
1st Edition

The Nature of Educational Theories
Goal-Directed, Equivalence and Interlevel Theories

ISBN 9781138488557
Published June 17, 2021 by Routledge
242 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This important book offers a meta-theoretical account of educational theories and how they work. It offers a classification scheme of distinct types of educational theory in which the account developed can inform the work of educational theorists and practitioners.

Kvernbekk observes throughout how meta-theoretical knowledge of the structure of theory types will improve the understanding and representation of educational phenomena and enhance theorists’ and practitioners’ ability to change those phenomena for the better. She explains how philosophical accounts of scientific theories can help us understand the nature of educational theories by applying two influential but different theory conceptions – the Received View and the Semantic Conception – to the field of education. Kvernbekk argues that educational theories, like other scientific theories, are representational devices that allow us to understand, describe and explain phenomena, and, when desired, to change them. The classification scheme offered allows us to discriminate distinct types of educational theory: goal-directed, equivalence and interlevel theories. Examples of all three types are discussed, explaining their structure, what they say about the phenomena and how they say it. The book also offers a critical overview of different conceptions of practice and different understandings of the theory–practice relationship.

Encouraging a strong understanding of what theories say about the phenomena they represent, this book will be of interest to educational researchers and postgraduate students in the fields of philosophy of education, education theory and education policy, and to philosophers of science and philosophers working on ‘practical’ philosophical issues.

Table of Contents

List of figures


Chapter One: Introduction

Chapter Two: Education – Field and Theory

Chapter Three: What Theories Are

Chapter Four: Goal-Directed Theories

Chapter Five: Equivalence Theories

Chapter Six: Interlevel Theories

Chapter Seven: What Makes an Educational Theory Good?

Chapter Eight: Conceptions of Practice

Chapter Nine: Theory and Practice

Chapter Ten: Theory Applications and Other Uses

Chapter Eleven: Conclusion



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Tone Kvernbekk is Professor of philosophy of education in the Department of Education at the University of Oslo, Norway. She mainly publishes on philosophical and epistemological issues as they bear on problems in educational theorizing. She also publishes in argumentation theory and narrative theory and likes to combine perspectives and draw on multiple sources.