7001.10 - Theory in the Social Sciences

Course number
Theory in the Social Sciences
The goal of the course is fourfold: (1) Students will gain insight into theories, concepts and issues in European history of science, and they will learn to distinguish between the various theoretical frameworks that shape the contemporary discussion in the social sciences. (2) Students will be enabled to critically evaluate and interpret the texts and theories they study. (3) Students will learn to see how no research is neutral, but how all scientific enquires are based in particular theories of knowledge and knowledge acquisition. And (4) students will gain an understanding of how scientific explanations, explicitly or not, are associated with particular views on development, child-rearing, education and learning.
The topics covered in this course are: 1) Defining scientific theory, especially within the social sciences relevant to teachers and social educators. 2) Knowledge and cognition, with particular focus on concepts as epistemology, ontology, induction, deduction and abduction. 3) Warrants for scientific and common knowledge, considering in particular what constitutes knowledge within the fields in which teachers and social educators work. The concept of objectivity will also be considered. 4) Introduction to European history of science, with particular emphasis on Kuhn’s understanding of paradigms and paradigm shifts. 5) Diversity and new scientific trends in postmodernity, focusing on how these trends influence the professions of teachers and social educators. 6) Overview of selected schools of thought relevant for teachers and social educators (incl. positivism, hermeneutics, phenomenology, constructivism and social constructivism) 7) A theoretic discussion on how quantitative and qualitative methods are used in a variety of research contexts.
Assessment method
On completion of the course, students will write an essay on a set topic. The essay is to be written individually. The topics will be described in a separate document. Internal examiners will be used for this course. The grade will be based on the current grading scale.
Poul Fossdal Guttesen