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Open Access Triangulation in history education research, and its limitations: A view from the UK

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This paper explains how different forms of triangulation have been used in recent history education research in the UK, and attempts to assess the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to triangulation. It also draws attention to the limitations of triangulation as a means of making claims about the validity of research outcomes. In spite of the pronouncements of policymakers in the UK that education reforms will be 'evidence based', there are many examples of distortion and misrepresentation in the field of history education research. The paper gives some examples of the ways in which triangulation and mixed methods have been used in research in history education in the UK, and argues that without an underpinning commitment to veracity and respect for evidence, sample size, research approach and range of triangulation methods cannot ensure that reasonable claims are made for the outcomes of research. The concluding section of the paper suggests ways of complementing triangulation as a means of moderating judgements and claims in history education research, and argues that it is important that history teachers have an intelligent and well-informed understanding of the potential usefulness and the limitations of research studies in history education.

Although the examples of research cited are from the UK, the question of how to optimize the use of mixed methods in history education research is an important issue for researchers and academics in history education worldwide.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • The History Education Research Journal (HERJ) is an international, open-access, peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the global significance and impact of history education. It covers all aspects of history education theory, scholarship, and pure and applied research. Articles illuminate contemporary issues, concerns, policies and practice, drawing upon the eclectic research methodologies of history education. The journal is published in partnership with the Historical Association.

    HERJ is a relaunch of the International Journal of Historical Learning Teaching and Research. All past issues up to and including vol. 15, no. 1 were published under this title. HERJ vol. 15, no. 2 is the first to be published by UCL IOE Press.
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