An introduction to educational research methods. Введение в образовательные исследовательские методы Білім беру-зерттеу әдістеріне кіріспе



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AN  INTRODUCTION TO 

EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH METHODS.

Введение в образовательные исследовательские методы

Білім беру-зерттеу әдістеріне кіріспе

Dr ELAINE WILSON & PROFESSOR AIZHANA ABIBULAYEVA

An Introduction to Educational Research Methods.

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An Introduction to Educational Research Methods.

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FOREWA



RD

This publication was produced following researcher links workshop 

between the Faculty of Education of the University of Cambridge and the 

Eurasian National University in Kazakhstan. The workshops were generously 

funded by Newton – Al-Farabi Partnership Programme as part of the 

British Council’s Researcher Links Programme. These workshops brought 

together early career researchers from the UK and Kazakhstan to discuss 

their research, build contacts for future collaboration, and work on some of 

the key development challenges affecting educational research in Kazakhstan. 

Dr Elaine Wilson

Faculty of Education

University  of  Cambridge                    

Professor Aizhan Abibulayeva

Eurasian National University

Astana, Kazakhstan


An Introduction to Educational Research Methods.

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CONTENTS



Refining the focus for research and formulating a research question .............................................................................................................................

ВЫДЕЛЕНИЕ ОБЪЕКТА ДЛЯ ИЗУЧЕНИЯ И ФОРМУЛИРОВАНИЕ ПРЕДМЕТА ИССЛЕДОВАНИЯ ......................................

ЗЕРТТЕУ АЙМАҒЫН АНЫҚТАП АЛУ ЖӘНЕ ЗЕРТТЕУ НЫСАНЫН ТҰЖЫРЫМДАУ .........................................................................

Reviewing the literature and writing a literature review .........................................................................................................................................................

АНАЛИЗ ЛИТЕРАТУРЫ И НАПИСАНИЕ ЛИТЕРАТУРНОГО ОБЗОРА .......................................................................................................

ӘДЕБИЕТКЕ ТАЛДАУ ЖАСАУ МЕН ӘДЕБИЕТТІК ШОЛУДЫ ЖАЗУ .............................................................................................................

Research design .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

ПРОЕКТ ИССЛЕДОВАНИЯ ..............................................................................................................................................................................................................

ЗЕРТТЕУ ЖҰМЫСЫНЫҢ ЖОБАСЫ ..........................................................................................................................................................................................

Ethics in educational research ................................................................................................................................................................................................................

ЭТИКА НАУЧНЫХ ПЕДАГОГИЧЕСКИХ ИССЛЕДОВАНИЙ .................................................................................................................................

ҒЫЛЫМИ ПЕДАГОГИКАЛЫҚ ЗЕРТТЕУЛЕР ЭТИКАСЫ ..............................................................................................................................................

Data collection ...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

СБОР ИНФОРМАЦИИ .........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

АҚПАРАТ ЖИНАУ ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Handling data ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

ОБРАБОТКА ДАННЫХ ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

МӘЛІМЕТТЕРДІ ӨҢДЕУ .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Reliability and validity in qualitative research  by teacher researchers ............................................................................................................................

ДОСТОВЕРНОСТЬ И ВАЛИДНОСТЬ КАЧЕСТВЕННОГО АНАЛИЗА УЧИТЕЛЕЙ-ИССЛЕДОВАТЕЛЕЙ .........................

ЗЕРТТЕУШІ МҰҒАЛІМДЕРДІҢ САПАЛЫ ТАЛДАУЫНЫҢ ШЫНАЙЫЛЫҒЫ МЕН ЖАРАМДЫЛЫҒЫ .....................................

Analysing qualitative data .........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

АНАЛИЗ КАЧЕСТВЕННЫХ ДАННЫХ .....................................................................................................................................................................................

САПАЛЫ МӘЛІМЕТТЕРДІ ТАЛДАУ ..........................................................................................................................................................................................

Taking a quantitative approach ..............................................................................................................................................................................................................

ПРИМЕНЕНИЕ КОЛИЧЕСТВЕННОГО МЕТОДА .............................................................................................................................................................

САНДЫҚ ӘДІСТІ ҚОЛДАНУ ............................................................................................................................................................................................................

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An Introduction to Educational Research Methods.

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Analysing quantitative data .....................................................................................................................................................................................................................



АНАЛИЗ КОЛИЧЕСТВЕННЫХ ДАННЫХ ............................................................................................................................................................................

САНДЫҚ МӘЛІМЕТТЕРДІ ТАЛДАУ ...........................................................................................................................................................................................

Writing about your research 

..................................................................................................................................................................................................................

ОПИСАНИЕ ВАШЕГО ИССЛЕДОВАНИЯ 

...........................................................................................................................................................................

СІЗДІҢ ЗЕРТТЕУ ЖҰМЫСЫҢЫЗДЫҢ СИПАТТАМАСЫ 

...........................................................................................................................................

What is educational action research? 

................................................................................................................................................................................................

ЧТО ТАКОЕ ПЕДАГОГИЧЕСКОЕ ИССЛЕДОВАНИЕ В ДЕЙСТВИИ? 

.............................................................................................................

ПЕДАГОГИКАЛЫҚ ІС-ӘРЕКЕТТЕГІ ЗЕРТТЕУ ДЕГЕНІМІЗ НЕ? 

.................................................................................................................................

How to do action research 

.....................................................................................................................................................................................................................

ПОРЯДОК ПРОВЕДЕНИЯ ИССЛЕДОВАНИЯ В ДЕЙСТВИИ 

................................................................................................................................

ІС-ӘРЕКЕТТЕГІ ЗЕРТТЕУ ЖҮРГІЗУ ТӘРТІБІ 

............................................................................................................................................................................

The Case Study 

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СИТУАЦИОННОЕ ИССЛЕДОВАНИЕ (КЕЙС-СТАДИ) 

............................................................................................................................................

КЕЙС-СТАДИ 

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Refining The Focus For Research And Formulating A Research Question

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Refining The Focus For Research And Formulating A Research Question

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Refining The Focus For Research And



Formulating A Research Question

CHAPTER ONE



Chapter Overview

When you first embark on a research project you will probably have a definite area

of interest in mind. For example, you may be particularly interested in the role of

writing to help learning. This is an interesting and important focus, but simply saying

you are researching writing to learn is much too broad. The first step then is to

narrow the area of interest down and come up with a more manageable narrower

scope. Novice researchers tend to find this process fairly daunting: so there are three

key questions which it might help a novice to ask before proceeding. If we stick with

the writing example then there are three prerequisites that you ought to establish

before going further.

• What exactly do you want to find out about writing to learn?

• What has been written about children’s writing already?

• What can you realistically manage in the time available to you?


Refining The Focus For Research And Formulating A Research Question

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Activity 1.1



 

Generating ideas

Brainstorming is a free-association technique of spontaneously listing all words,

concepts, ideas, questions and knowledge about a topic. Starts by making a

lengthy list about the areas you are interested in researching.



Sorting ideas

Next, sort these ideas into categories. This allows you to sort out your current

awareness of the area, decide what perspectives are most interesting and/

or relevant, and decide in which direction to steer your research. Create a

concept map from the categories you arrived at in the brainstorming stage.

Concept maps may be elaborate or simple and are designed to help you

organize your thinking about a topic, recognize where you have gaps in your

knowledge, and help to generate specific questions that may guide your

research. Having done that, decide if you now know enough about the area.

Do you need to do further reading? Are you ready to go onto the next stage

of ‘drilling down’ to the core of the problem?

Carrying out activity 2.1 might help with the process of refining the problem area.



Refining The Focus For Research And Formulating A Research Question

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‘Drilling down’ is a term taken from management literature and simply involves analysing



the research area from various perspectives to help narrow the focus. Figure 2.1 provides

an example in an educational context where a teacher identified her area of interest as

characteristics of successful lessons. This is a huge and complex area so the teacher first

considered what a successful lesson might look like from her own perspective as the teacher,

then from the school perspective and finally from the students’ perspective. This led on

to a series of second-level questions such as: how will I know if the students are learning?

As a result of this process, the teacher decided to focus on the students’ perspectives of

successful lessons. This helped to identify other ideas and raised further questions such

as: Are the students able to do the work I set? Do they believe they are able to do the

work I set? How do students perceive my role? Do students think the work is worthwhile?

Do they enjoy the work? In this case, the teacher decided to explore this aspect further

through asking a few students for their ideas, talking to colleagues and searching out recent

research in the area of student voice and motivation before attempting to formulate her

research question. In the next section, I will introduce other strategies that might help you

to formulate your questions.

Figure 1.1 

Drilling down to the core of the issue

Refining The Focus For Research And Formulating A Research Question

Refining The Focus For Research And Formulating A Research Question

‘Drilling down’ is a term taken from management literature and simply involves analysing 

the research area from various perspectives to help narrow the focus. Figure 2.1 provides 

an example in an educational context where a teacher identified her area of interest as 

characteristics of successful lessons. This is a huge and complex area so the teacher first 

considered what a successful lesson might look like from her own perspective as the teacher, 

then from the school perspective and finally from the students’ perspective. This led on 

to a series of second-level questions such as: how will I know if the students are learning? 

As a result of this process, the teacher decided to focus on the students’ perspectives of 

successful  lessons. This  helped  to  identify  other  ideas  and  raised  further  questions  such 

as: Are the students able to do the work I set? Do they believe they are able to do the 

work I set? How do students perceive my role? Do students think the work is worthwhile? 

Do they enjoy the work? In this case, the teacher decided to explore this aspect further 

through asking a few students for their ideas, talking to colleagues and searching out recent 

research in the area of student voice and motivation before attempting to formulate her 

research question. In the next section, I will introduce other strategies that might help you 

to formulate your questions.



 Figure 1.1

 Drilling down to the core of the issue



Activity 1.1

Generating ideas

Brainstorming is a free-association technique of spontaneously listing all words, 

concepts, ideas, questions and knowledge about a topic. Starts by making a 

lengthy list about the areas you are interested in researching.



Sorting ideas

Next, sort these ideas into categories. This allows you to sort out your current 

awareness of the area, decide what perspectives are most interesting and/

or relevant, and decide in which direction to steer your research. Create a 

concept map from the categories you arrived at in the brainstorming stage. 

Concept maps may be elaborate or simple and are designed to help you 

organize your thinking about a topic, recognize where you have gaps in your 

knowledge, and help to generate specific questions that may guide your 

research. Having done that, decide if you now know enough about the area. 

Do you need to do further reading? Are you ready to go onto the next stage 

of ‘drilling down’ to the core of the problem?

 

Carrying out activity 2.1 might help with the process of refining the problem area.



Refining The Focus For Research And Formulating A Research Question

10

FORMULATING THE RESEARCH QUESTION



Moving from a research topic to a research question

The first stage of moving from a topic to a research question will be informed by your

reading so finding out what is written about your area of interest will not only help you

to crystallize your thinking but will also suggest potential methodological approaches for

your chosen area of study. Chapter 3 will explain how to search for literature to help you

understand the key themes about your chosen topic and how to organize your findings into

coherent themes.

Having decided on and refined your research area, it helps if you can hone this into

a succinct researchable question. For example, talk to help learning would be a really good

area for research but ‘What sort of talk do students engage in during group work in science

lessons?’ would be a much more helpful starting point for a small scale school based research

project.


To think about your project then ask yourself the following questions:

1. What is known already about this area, what have experts already written about this

area and how have they undertaken research? (See Chapter 3 on reviewing literature.)

2. What are my colleagues in my school views’ about this area and what does my

higher-degree tutor advise me to do?

3. Why am I doing this research? 



Figure 1.2 

Stages of formulating a research question

Refining The Focus For Research And Formulating A Research Question

Refining The Focus For Research And Formulating A Research Question



FORMULATING THE RESEARCH QUESTION

Moving from a research topic to a research question

The first stage of moving from a topic  to a research question will be informed by your 

reading so finding out what is written about your area of interest will not only help you 

to crystallize your thinking but will also suggest potential methodological approaches for 

your chosen area of study. Chapter 3 will explain how to search for literature to help you 

understand the key themes about your chosen topic  and how to organize your findings into 

coherent themes.

 

Having decided on and refined your research area, it helps if you can hone this into 



a succinct researchable question. For example, talk to help learning would be a really good 

area for research but ‘What sort of talk do students engage in during group work in science 

lessons?’ would be a much more helpful starting point for a small scale school based research 

project. 

To think about your project then ask yourself the following questions:

1. What is known already about this area, what have experts already written about this 

area and how have they undertaken research? (See Chapter 3 on reviewing literature.)

2. What are my colleagues in my school views’ about this area and what does my 

higher-degree tutor advise me to do?

3. Why am I doing this research?



Figure 1.2

 Stages of formulating a  research question

So you can see that it is unhelpful to start from the premise that you are going to survey the 

students or carry out interviews or to even think about data collection methods until you 

have a clear idea of what your precise research question is. 

 

It is important to recognize that undertaking a research enquiry will make extra 



demands on your time, energy and resources, so your enquiry must be realistically manageable 

on top of your teaching role and where possible be seen as no more than extending the 

activities  you  are  already  engaged  in  within  your  own  classroom  or  school. The  further 

removed your research is from your usual professional work, the more difficult it will be 

to undertake. Furthermore, carrying out an enquiry which is not directly related to your 

own interest or professional work will be less useful to you. Ideas for research will emerge 

from your own interests and experiences. This might be a new curriculum development, a 

recurring difficulty, an idea you encountered on a course or as a result of reading a research 

paper. Moving from a research topic to a research question is an important next step.

   


RESEARCH PURPOSE: WHY ARE YOU DOING THE RESEARCH?

Having  a  clear  idea  about  the  rationale  for  doing  your  research  is  important. The  main 

reasons teachers give for undertaking research are listed in Box 2.1.

Box 1.1 - Teachers’ classroom-based research

Firstly, to explore what is happening in your classroom or to seek new insights 

into your classrooms. For example:

•  How do teachers manage their classes? What are the classroom rules? 

How are elements such as time, space, pupil behaviour or their own 

strategies managed?

•  How are classroom decisions made: by the teacher, by pupils, or by both 

by negotiation?

•  How is pupils’ work monitored and assessed in the classroom?

•  How do teachers explain new topics to pupils?

Secondly, to describe or portray an accurate profile of persons, events 

or situations which will require extensive knowledge of the situation. For 

example:

•  What do teachers and pupils do in the classroom? How do they spend 

their time?

•  What kind of interaction takes place, who talks to whom and about what?

•  What do pupils learn, what tasks do they engage in, and with what degree 

of involvement and success?



Refining The Focus For Research And Formulating A Research Question

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So you can see that it is unhelpful to start from the premise that you are going to survey the



students or carry out interviews or to even think about data collection methods until you

have a clear idea of what your precise research question is.

It is important to recognize that undertaking a research enquiry will make extra

demands on your time, energy and resources, so your enquiry must be realistically manageable

on top of your teaching role and where possible be seen as no more than extending the

activities you are already engaged in within your own classroom or school. The further

removed your research is from your usual professional work, the more difficult it will be

to undertake. Furthermore, carrying out an enquiry which is not directly related to your

own interest or professional work will be less useful to you. Ideas for research will emerge

from your own interests and experiences. This might be a new curriculum development, a

recurring difficulty, an idea you encountered on a course or as a result of reading a research

paper. Moving from a research topic to a research question is an important next step.

   



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