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Basic issues concerning interpretive research, and theories and methods of using interpretive research to study teaching are discussed. The concept of interpretive research may also be known as ethnographic, qualitative, participant observational, case study, symbolic interactionist, phenomenological, or constructivist. Interpretive research studies the meaning of actions that occur, both in face-to-face interactions and in the wider society surrounding the immediate scene of action. To conduct interpretive research on teaching, intense and long-term participant observation in an educational setting is required, followed by deliberate and long-term reflection on what was observed. Questions regarding the observer's point of view, previously learned formal theories, cultural conditioning, and personal values must be considered. Attitudes toward teaching and learning as well as measures of effectiveness are also worth examining. This paper argues that such detailed scrutiny of everyday teaching routines is a route to improving educational practice, as performed by university researchers as well as practicing teachers.
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