Integrating Conceptual Frameworks
|A conceptual framework provides one or more lens through
which the research problem is viewed. The lens can be a worldview,
such as Marxism or democracy, that informs a study. It can be theories,
such as those of Freud, Piaget, and Kolberg, that explain certain phenomena
in considerable detail. It can be research perspectives such as those
of social psychologists, cognitive scientists, and economists. And
it can be constructs used to conceptualize the phenomena of interest, such
as reading comprehension, social isolation, and leadership.
For instance "teaching" can be conceptualized as communication, information transfer, interpersonal interaction, cognitive apprenticeship, the fostering of human development, socialization, human capital development, oppression, and/or liberation. The research questions that are considered interesting and promising depend partly on the conceptual framework adopted for a study.
Conceptual frameworks help the researcher view the phenomena of interest more acutely, to see details that otherwise might not be apparent. It should be noted, however, that like a microscope or telescope, conceptual frameworks also narrow one's field of vision. That helps limit the scope of a study, and no study can examine everything that might be applicable. It can, however, also lead a researcher to miss important features.
Most human and social phenomena have been researched with various different conceptual frameworks, although that may not be initially apparent if your search for literature is limited to terms used only in one conceptual framework. For instance, "constructivism" is general addressed in research using the relatively new conceptual framework of cognitive science, but Socrates anticipated constructivism, and there is research using classical learning theory that addresses issues now commonly considered the domain of cognitive science. If your literature search was limited to "constructivism" and related cognitive science terms, you will miss the other literature that addresses the same phenomena.
Means of Integrating Conceptual Frameworks
The following are several means of integrating conceptual frameworks used in prior researches on a topic.
Last Update: June 29, 2000