Tales from the Science Education Crypt: A Critical Reflection of Positionality, Subjectivity, and Reflexivity in Research

Kathleen St. Louis, Angela Calabrese Barton


Over the past three years, we have been working in urban settings to investigate specific understandings that poor minority parents have about science education reform, their role in reform, and how they negotiate their role with other parents, their children, and their children's teachers. As critical qualitative researchers, we understand that because we work with people, methodological issues arise that we had not previously considered as part of our research design. In particular, we found ourselves confronted with questions about subjectivity and the intersections between the parents' lives, our own lives, the research process, and the intended and unintended outcomes of research. One of us (Kathleen) worked more closely with the parents to collect their stories through interviews and focus groups. Using (self-) reflexivity, we examine the methodological issues that became salient through two main questions that the research process raised for us. First, what is our responsibility, or to whom should our responsibility be, as qualitative researchers? Second, how do we address assumptions in our research that are uncovered in the process of working with the data? In this paper, we chronicle Kathleen's complex struggle with these two questions to make sense of her positionality, responsibilities, and assumptions as a researcher.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0203196


reflexivity; subjectivity; positionality; parents; urban; responsibility; science

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Copyright (c) 2002 Kathleen St. Louis, Angela Calabrese Barton

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