Friction, Fiction, and Failure: Scientifically Based Research and the Rural

Open Access
Eppley, Karen Elaine
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
October 09, 2007
Committee Members:
  • Jacqueline Edmondson, Committee Chair
  • Patrick Willard Shannon, Committee Chair
  • Kai Arthur Schafft, Committee Member
  • Jamie Myers, Committee Member
  • rural education
  • scientifically based research
  • social science research
  • fiction
The Educational Science Reform Act of 2002 and No Child Left Behind define experimental studies as the preferred method to produce knowledge about schools, learning, and teaching. Situated in rural Pennsylvania, Friction, Fiction, and Failure: Scientifically Based Research and the Rural, is a challenge to the certainties and assumptions upon which this legislation is based. Using conversations between an Old Order Amish teacher and a public school teacher, the book challenges legislated scientific preference from three angles: objectivity, evidence, and transparency. The participant’s religious convictions precluded the use of standard data collection techniques, thereby excluding her from representation within sanctioned educational science under current federal policy. Using poststructural theories in order to rescue her from scientific and educational irrelevance, the study details how the researcher and participant's shared rural identity impacted objectivity, the possibilities of realist tales within educational research, and how the metaphor of friction can be engaged within discussions of the transparency of representation of others. Concerns about the consequences of legislated scientism for rural citizens are explored, questioning some members’ exclusion from sanctioned educational research. The study positions the certainties promised by educational research as tenuous and considers the implications of uncertainty for teachers, educational researchers, and their relationship to the public good.