Generating Malaysian-based Knowledge Through A Dialogue With The West In The Fields Of Psychology And Education - Rafidah Aga Mohd Jaladin, Haslina Muhamad, Marlina Ali

Year: 2011

Author: Aga Mohd Jaladin, Rafidah, Muhamad, Haslina, Ali, Marlina

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Generating Malaysian-Based Knowledge through a Dialogue with the West in the Fields of Psychology and Education Knowledge is culturally-bound. The process of making sense of knowledge normally takes place among local people in a specific cultural context. However, most existing knowledge in various fields of studies originates from the West. In fact, most existing concepts and theories mostly used in educational research are Western-based, which emphasis more on Eurocentric values and bias. This poses some conceptual and methodological challenges for international scholars and researchers, especially those from the non-West contexts, to fully understand such knowledge and apply it to their specific cultural contexts. One possible explanation to account for the emergence of both challenges found in the literature is due to differences in cultural values, beliefs, norms, behaviours between the West and the non-West cultural context, among many others. These are experienced by most Malaysian researchers in the fields of behavioural sciences and education, in which most research studies adopt-and-adapt Western-based theories to generate meaningful knowledge in the specific cultural context of Malaysia. Drawing on examples or cases from three Malaysian-based studies (PhD research in progress) in the areas of psychology and teacher education, this paper discusses (a) the conceptual challenges, (b) the associated methodological and fieldwork challenges, and (c) the challenges to interpret and communicate the research findings encountered by three Malaysian researchers in understanding, designing and modifying Western theories to suit the cultural needs of the Malaysians. The participants of these studies were Malaysian school and university students, teachers and professional counsellors from various states in Malaysia. The methods used in the studies were based on both the positivist (quantitative) and constructivist (qualitative) paradigms. These comprised surveys (both mailed and online), semi-structured interviews and thinking aloud. It is envisioned that once these challenges are addressed, the generic and Malaysian-based knowledge emerging from the studies can be identified. This paper implies that there is a pressing need for: (1) conducting local research using a grounded-theory approach, rather than just relying on a dialogical process approach, to generate local wisdom which then becomes the foundational knowledge of Malaysian-based theories; and (2) globalising local wisdom in behavioural science and education. The emerging local wisdom will complement the existing knowledge, and hence widen the knowledge base of existing theories. Nonetheless, the integration of local wisdom and Western-based theories contributes to the inclusiveness and exclusiveness of the knowledge. Suggested strategies for future research in generating culturally meaningful knowledge in the fields of psychology and teacher education in Malaysia are also discussed.