How does one recognize contextual mitigating factors (CMFs) as a basis to understand and arrive at better approaches to research designs?

Abstract

In this paper we introduce the concept of contextual mitigating factors (CMFs) as an analytical tool for interrogating the contextual landscapes that situate one’s research. While we understand that much work has been done on the importance of identifying context in research programs, we continue to stress the importance of developing contextually rich and useful descriptions. The importance of developing contextually rich descriptions that are inclusive of CMFs in the research process to include research designs is underscored in this paper. In using the term context, we are referring to the conglomerate of CMFs that situate, define and occupy complex systems of multiple spaces that create, shape, and continuously modify, contextual landscapes. Complex systems thinking is our basis for understanding that CMFs are a continuous set of socio-historical-political contextual constructs, fluid and dynamic, simultaneously interweaving socially constructed places together. By doing so, we stress that conceptually it is important for a researcher to understand that context is positioned and, as such, all phenomena studied are situated. In order to fully grasp how data presented have been positioned, we underscore the importance of the development of radical doubt (RD) which leads to tactical understanding (TU) by both researchers and consumers of research. Commensurate to the development of RD and TU is understanding how both the researcher and consumer of research have been positioned by their ontological, epistemological and axiological frameworks. Through several examples we demonstrate how CMF analysis as a tool can contribute to researchers abilities to further enhance their analysis of the complexity of socio-educational phenomena such as the science, technology, engineering and mathematics intervention pipelines. Accordingly, we present CMF analysis as a framework with the intent of adding to existing methodologies as opposed to CMF analysis as an exclusive research pathway. We conclude by discussing implications for sponsoring agencies by drawing attention to the potential impact of CMF analysis on evaluating research designs.

Resumen

En este artículo presentamos el concepto de factores contextuales mitigantes (CMFs por sus siglas en inglés) como una herramienta analítica para interrogar los escenarios contextuales que sitúan la investigación de cada uno. Si bien entendemos que muchos investigadores han escrito sobre la importancia de identificar e incluir el contexto en programas de investigación, continuamos enfatizando la importancia de desarrollar descripciones contextuales detalladas y útiles. En este documento se subraya la importancia de desarrollar descripciones contextualmente enriquecidas, a través de la inclusión de CMFs, en el proceso de investigación incluyendo en el diseño de la misma investigación. Al utilizar el término contexto, nos referimos al conglomerado de CMFs que sitúan, definen y ocupan sistemas complejos de múltiples espacios que crean, configuran y modifican continuamente los escenarios contextuales. El modelo de sistemas de pensamiento complejo (CST por sus siglas en inglés) son nuestra base para entender que los CMFs son un continuo de construcciones contextuales socio-histórico-políticas, fluidas y dinámicas, que entrelazan lugares construidos socialmente. Asimismo, enfatizamos que para un investigador, es conceptualmente importante comprender que el contexto ocupa un lugar importante y, como tal, todos los fenómenos estudiados están situados. Con el fin de entender con profundidad cómo se han posicionado los datos presentados, resaltamos la importancia del desarrollo de la duda radical (RD por sus siglas en inglés) lo que conlleva al entendimiento táctico (TU por sus siglas en inglés), tanto por los investigadores como por los interesados-consumidores de investigaciones. Junto con el desarrollo de la RD y el TU, está el comprender cómo el investigador, así como los consumidores de investigaciones, entienden sus marcos ontológicos, epistemológicos y axiológicos. A través de varios ejemplos, demostramos cómo el análisis de los CMFs empleados como herramienta, puede contribuir a enriquecer y mejorar el análisis de la complejidad de los fenómenos socioeducativos mediante canales de intervención en ciencia, tecnología, ingeniería y matemáticas (STEM por sus siglas en inglés). Es así que presentamos el análisis de los CMFs como un marco con la intención de contribuir con las metodologías existentes y no como una vía exclusiva de investigación. Concluimos discutiendo las implicaciones para las instituciones financiadoras, llamando la atención sobre el impacto potencial del análisis de los CMFs en la evaluación de los diseños de investigación.

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Correspondence to Alejandro José Gallard Martínez.

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Lead Editor: Emilia Alfonso.

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Martínez, A.J.G., Pitts, W.B., Brkich, K.M. et al. How does one recognize contextual mitigating factors (CMFs) as a basis to understand and arrive at better approaches to research designs?. Cult Stud of Sci Educ 15, 545–567 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11422-018-9872-2

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Keywords

  • Contextual mitigating factors
  • Complex systems thinking
  • Radical doubt
  • Methodological agency
  • Tactical understanding

Palabras claves

  • Factores contextuales mitigantes
  • Sistemas de pensamiento complejo
  • Duda radical
  • Agencia metodológica
  • Entendimiento táctico