Paradigm shift in education: Toward third-wave research

Yin Cheong CHENG

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters

1 Citation (Scopus)


In response to the challenges of a fast-changing world, three waves of education reforms have occurred in different parts of the world, broadly representing three paradigms used to define the nature and objectives of education, the role of required initiatives, and the measures needed to enhance the effectiveness, creativity, and thinking capacity of students in the learning process. The aims, conceptualization, and practice of education are completely different in each paradigm, resulting in different outcomes (Cheng, 2005a). The implications of these paradigms for policy formulation and research development in education are also different. Unfortunately, educators, researchers, and policy makers are often ignorant of the paradigm gaps in policy, practice, and research. Furthermore, most reform initiatives with good intentions and expensive resources may fail to achieve the planned educational changes in this era of globalization and transformation (Cheng, 2007; Davidson, 2014; Irez & Han, 2011; Keyser & Broadbear, 2010). This chapter aims to provide a global perspective to illustrate how these paradigms shape the major characteristics of education and its research agendas in fundamental and varied ways. To meet local and global challenges, this chapter further elaborates that the practice and research of education should shift from the traditional first- and second-wave paradigms to the new third-wave paradigm to create unlimited learning opportunities for students to develop their lifelong capacity for multiple thinking and creativity for sustainable development in the 21st century (Longworth, 2013; Noweski et al., 2012). Such a paradigm shift in education research creates numerous new areas, implications, and opportunities for researchers to investigate the third wave of education for the future of students and society. Copyright © 2015 World Education Research Association.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorld education research yearbook 2015
EditorsLori Diane HILL, Felice J. LEVINE
Place of PublicationNew York
ISBN (Electronic)9781317633013
ISBN (Print)9781138797123
Publication statusPublished - 2015


Cheng, C. Y. (2015). Paradigm shift in education: Toward third-wave research. In L. D. Hill, & F. J. Levine (Eds.), World education research yearbook 2015 (pp. 5-29). New York: Routledge.


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