Thinking about Research Design

One of the characteristics of academic study at masters level is being critical. We constantly say when you are writing a reading. There is a need to be critical when it comes to the stage when you’re undertaking your own research being critical is just as important adopting a critical approach when undertaking research is quite complex. One aspect of being critical in research is to explore the assumptions and beliefs associated with the methods we choose to use and to carry out our research. These beliefs are important as they guide us in our choice of topic, our selection of participants or sample our choice of data collection, method, power, analysis method and even the manner in which we disseminate our findings or results. These beliefs and assumptions are often called our worldviews and a shaped by variety of forces and factors such as the discipline or field.

We study in the beliefs of our lecturers and tutors our own reading and our own past research experiences in education. There is three broad world views. We have realistic perspectives. You may have heard of positivism postpositivism and critical realism. We have naturalistic perspectives such as interpret ism constructivism, and we had advocacy or participatory perspectives such as critical theory or action research. These approaches and paradigms differ in a variety of ways.

For example, researchers often have different reasons or objectives to carry out their research. Some seek to discover a set of natural laws that govern our thoughts and behavior. Others just want to understand human interactions, and others say: research is political and we should be trying to change the society in which we live. Another part of our worldview is the nature of reality.

Is the social world made up of objective events and actions that we can measure, or is it how individuals and groups of individuals interpret those events and therefore it is a subjective process? Also, we need to understand the nature of the relationship between the researcher and what he or she is researching. Do we try to remain detached separate from the participants to make sure that we don’t influence our findings, or is that too naive? We live in a social world and researchers of social activity. We need to actively lessen the distance between the researcher and those being researched in a similar vein. Some researchers argue that research is value free.

However, others argue that research is value Laden and that our biases Perman ate all of our research. Even the starting point for our research is debatable. Should research be deductive, should we form theories and then hypothesis, based on the findings of previous research and then set about testing, proving or disproving these ideas, or should we be more inductive and should we let the ideas and theories emerge from our data? Realist pace research, positivism, postpositivism and critical realism, adopt a deterministic philosophy and seek to identify laws that govern behavior. They focus on causes outcomes, effects predictors and have the intention to generalize their findings.

For the most part, researchers try to remain objective and detached from those objects. Being researched, because the intention of all of these approaches is to generalize or be replicated in other situations, it’s important to use methods that facilitate these stages. Therefore, researchers typically rely heavily on the use of random samples and statistical techniques in education.

We find three main designs within this approach: we have the classical randomized controlled experiment where we set up two groups, one who undergo some experimental treatment and another who act as a control. We also have Survey Research where we take a snapshot of the population, so we can examine the relationship between concepts or differences between groups and we have evaluation research which draws on aspects of both experimental and survey designs to evaluate teaching programs and practices. Naturalistic research interpret ism constructivism argue that the social world is far too complex to reduce to a set of a universal rules and behaviors. They say what really counts. Is our interpretations of this world on how these interpretations influence our behavior? As you can imagine, this approach becomes very subjective and dependent on the context.

Ethnography, a typical naturalistic approach focuses understanding, particular cultures and groups. Terminology focuses on all the meanings and individuals associate with a particular concept or an experience case. Studies involve the study of an issue and usually involves an in-depth focus on a particular setting or context. The key aim of the advocacy perspective is to change the lives of participants in some way or in a larger scale.

Research, reformed society, the dominant designs and this approach are the various forms of action research. The research might be practitioner based where the teacher or instructor tries to improve their own teaching practices or their students. Learning experiences or a researcher may focus on a particular disadvantaged group or an ethnic group and then through the research and prove will change a participant situation.

So, to summarize, we have world views our assumptions and beliefs about research. Within that we have a variety of paradigms, and within these paradigms we have a range of designs. One thing to remember: these are not black and white categories are types there’s plenty of research that tries to blend these designs.

Some are successful. Others, not the important thing to remember and to focus on is whether the design we choose is suitable for our research problem. For example, if we want to generalize to the wider population, then we need to choose the design that allows that, for example, a survey design. Obviously an ethnographic approach, which provides in-depth information, does not do that.

Likewise, if we do need in-depth information, then we need to adopt an ethnographic or Femina logical approach. Surveys. Experimental designs are not readily suitable for gaining in-depth information. When we start to consider the methods that are associated with these paradigms and designs, there is far more flexibility. Educational researchers have four main techniques in their toolkit document.

Analysis techniques involves collecting documents such as reports and Diaries, and then searching them for specific ideas or concepts. This could be undertaken in a quantitative way, counting occurrences or a qualitative way exploring the content. Observation techniques involves observing individuals or groups for particular behaviors or interactions.

Once again, this could be by Counting specific occurrences or by documenting the interaction. Questionnaires are another tool available to us. They contain questions that are easily converted to numbers and then analyzed using statistical methods. They can also contain more open-ended questions that lend themselves to qualitative explorations. Finally, we have interviews.

They can be quite structured to allow comparisons between groups. Conversational to collect in-depth information or anywhere between these two extremes. Once again, the important thing to remember is to ensure that the techniques you choose are suitable for your design. For example, if you’re undertaking ethnographic study remember, your aim is to under to gain a deeper understanding of the lives of this group. Conversational type interviews will allow you to gain in depth information.

A questionnaire could be used, but it’ll have to contain very open-ended questions to allow deeper information to be collected and we’re more closed. Responses are hues such as age and gender. It is really just to provide some descriptive background to the reader or you may be undertaking some survey. Research remember.

The aim is typically to generalize questionnaires and surveys will be designed to enable conversion responses to numbers and then to be analyzed. Interviews can be used, but they like to be very structured, so they can be compared. In conclusion, when we are thinking about our research, we need to think about, firstly, our own beliefs and assumptions about the aims of research and what we believe can be achieved through research. Secondly, the assumptions associated particular designs and types of research and finally, how different methods interviews questionnaires can be used with consistency within a design without contradict during our initial beliefs and assumptions about research.