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A Critical Discussion and Evaluation of Research Approaches

  • 13 Pages
  • Published On: 11-12-2023
Part A: A Critical Discussion and Evaluation of Research Approaches

This section will discuss the varied methods and approaches which are used in research and attempt to understand and evaluate the methods based on their effectiveness and the areas of research which are most suitable for it.

The types of research which will be analysed in this section are qualitative research, research based on secondary sources and action research. According to Pathak et al (2013), as a humanistic or idealistic approach, qualitative analysis focuses on interpreting a research question. Though, since it is focused on quantitative methods that can be rendered scientifically and perpetuated by other scientists, the quantitative method is a much more accurate process. A literature review examines published research in a subject field, as well as information published within a specific time span. As the subject develops, a literature review of an established topic discusses the need for a criticism of, and future reinterpretation of, the topic's evolving and more differentiated body of knowledge (Ramdhani et al, 2014). Finally, action research is a research which is primarily used to study pedagogy and is is concerned with examining teaching and learning methods, most of the times. Action analysis is a method that can be used to assist teachers and other educators in identifying ways to strengthen teaching practises (Sagor, 2004). It is a feasible and practical pursuit for all instructors and normally this research calls for teachers planning an action research study in a field of study that they'd like to conduct in their educational settings. Since teachers often test a new instructional model, analyse a new learning programme, or review an established pedagogical process, action testing is frequently viewed as a professional development tool.

Three research papers will be analysed in context of these research approaches, all of which pertain to studying teaching strategies. The first research is authored by Hirsh, Nilholm, Roman, Forsberg and Sunderberg. The paper is titled ‘Reviews of teaching methods – which fundamental issues are identified?’ and was published in 2020. The second paper is titled ‘Instructional Strategies for Teaching Pre-Algebra to a Diverse Group of Learners’, authored by Robert Ojeda, published in 2010. The third paper which will be analysed is titled, ‘A matter of presence: A qualitative study on teaching individual and collective music classes’, published in 2018 and authored by Schiavio, Biasutti, van der Schyff and Parncutt.

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This topic is relevant in the present scenario as education has largely gone remote and it could potentially affect the educational quality of children, particularly those who are just starting with school in 2020 or 2021. It is a relevant form of study as there needs to a revamping of educational policies for children between the ages of 2 to 8, as education is an essential part of early childhood (nu.edu).

Evaluating Research Approaches

The following section will evaluate different kinds of research approach taking into context three papers, each of which have followed a specific research approach to fulfil its research work. The research methods which will be discussed are qualitative approach, practitioner or action based approach and secondary or literature based approach.

Secondary Research Approach

The practice of secondary data collection involves the examination of information gathered by a different researcher for a certain research that they are inquiring into. For researchers with insufficient time and funding, using this current data is a feasible choice. Secondary analysis is an observational exercise that follows the same scientific science concepts as primary data analyses and includes the same measures as every other research tool. It's also known as any more review of an established dataset that provides new or different explanations, hypotheses, or knowledge than those contained in the first report on the investigation as a whole and its key findings (Andrews et al, 2012; Smith, 2008).

The approach that the researchers collect in doing research is determined by the field of inquiry and the research inquiry presented in the form of research questions. The study's analysis approach refers to how the researcher gathers, analyses, and interprets the results. Secondary analysis is a formal approach of methodological and evaluative measures, but there is a lack of literature to identify a particular procedure. As a result, this paper suggests a process that starts with the formulation of study issues, then the classification of the database, and finally a detailed assessment of the database (Cresswell, 2009).

There are several advantages to using secondary data, mainly the fact that it is so cost effective and the accessibility of secondary research. The researcher would not have to invest financial capital in data collection when someone's already done so. Research teams may find links to and use high-quality larger datasets, such as those obtained by sponsored experiments or organisations that include larger surveys and contain significant depth, when good secondary data is accessible (Dale et al, 1998; Smith et al, 2011). However, there are some disadvantages to using secondary data as well. In a lot of the cases, replicability of the data for a similar but a different inquiry becomes difficult. The researcher will have to use only the specific form of data collected by that researcher or make inferences which have to supplemented by other forms of research. If the researcher who is relying on secondary data wants to contact someone for follow-ups, that could pose as a problem for the researcher. No follow-up questions can be asked to participants, and no further evidence can be obtained because research requires the privacy of the respondents to be maintained. Although the lack of potential for follow-up or supplemental data gathering from respondents has proved to be a weakness in advancing this study, it is critical that secondary data processing adhere to the initial survey's consent conditions (Heaton, 2008).

Considering the case of Hirsh et al (2020), the source from where they obtained their secondary data was various journals in the Web of Science Master Journal List or WoS. They used coding and keyword search in order to exclude any form of search in which not relevant to their research, such as adult education. They used the method of overview find to effectively summarise research content. However, a significant disadvantage that overview finding possesses is that it has the tendency to be reductive and disregardful of the context of the research (writing.colstate.edu). Hence, Scviao et al’s (2018) study based on key words and coded on the basis of overviews falls on the trap of being oversimplified.

Qualitative Approach

What is understood as qualitative analysis can refer to any kind of study that yields results that aren't based on mathematical techniques or other methods of quantification. It may refer to studies of people, their lives, personal experiences, behaviours, attitudes, and thoughts, as well as studies of organisational performance, social trends, cultural dynamics, and cross-national encounters (Flick, 2014). There are several advantages to conducting one’s research with qualitative methods, Firstly, qualitative research elicits a rich and informative explanation of participants' emotions, beliefs, and perceptions, as well as interprets the implications of their acts (Denzin, 1989). The systematic understanding of the human condition in particular environments is achieved by qualitative analysis which is also called interpretivism. Qualitative analysis is an interdisciplinary discipline that covers a broader variety of epistemic perspectives, research methodology, and interpretivist approaches for analysing human interactions (Denzin and Lincoln, 2017; McNamara, 2001).

In the context of Schiavio et al (2018) they used a mixture of questionnaires and interviews to expand on the teaching strategies of music teachers. The interviews were semi-structured and all methods of inquiry included open ended questions. however, a significant disadvantage in the method that was employed by them was that the context of the teaching strategy employed by the teachers were largely ignored. Additionally, coding and recognising the important parts of the data collected could have fallen victim to personal biases, researchers made personal choices to which were important factors and which weren’t.

Action Research

Action Analysis is a form of structured inquiry that teachers use to investigate their own experience as scholars. Educators normally initiate the process by identifying a problem or condition. You'll be guided through the process of translating this interesting issue into a topic than can be researched and then taking action steps to carry out. To better formulate the happenings and interpret the consequence of those actions, you can build on the observations of other researchers .

One produces analysis as an intervention author or teacher-author. Inquiring about the work would eventually bring you to challenge assumptions and principles that are often ignored in the daily course of school life (bris.ac.uk).

In the context of the research by Ojeda (2010) methodologies were involved which included assessments in first round and a second round of assessments, where students were allowed to take the answers they’d been wrong about and attempt them again. Gauging the knowledge of children in this manner allowed them to understand the progress of children with each class. However, the difficulty with this approach and with the approach in general was that the whole process was very time consuming; a common complain with the action research method. Additionally, the children were asked to keep notes on their understanding progress after each class. This was probably done to encourage the reflection which is prevalent in action based research. However, there are problems with using self reflection as tool of data collection as the individual may not be as unbiased as the researcher.

Ethical Research

According to Polonski and Wallaby (2005), there are five ethical considerations which need to be taken into consideration such as; voluntary participation, gaining the consent of the participants, confidentiality of the participant, ensure safety of the participant and clearly and transparently communicating the results. In the case of the first paper which was discussed, the disclosure statement informed that no conflict of interest was reported. However, there no appendix which elucidated that the participants had their consent taken. In case of Ojeda (2010), there was also an absence of consent form which was given to the participants for completion of the report. In the case of Schiavio et al (2018), interviewing was the main instrument of data collection. In the case of interviews, it is permissible to user verbal consent instead of written, if the person is unable to sign a written consent (tandemic.com). However, there was no mention of a methodology of consent taking in the interviewing process. In any of the papers, there was no breach of sample identity, however the data on whether the well being of the participant was ensured while conducting the research process.

Conclusion

The inquiry discovered that while the selected publications were advanced in their usage of data and information and conducting research, where applicable, methodology is still lacking in eliminating some of the disadvantages that are endemic to the kind of research methodology that they are following. The inquiry also discovered that there is a lack of elucidation about ethical principles in the research works which were looked at. However, it is plausible that the principles were followed by the researchers but kept out of the body of the research paper.

Data Collection Tool

The following section will be a design of a semi-structured interview which will be taken to understand teaching strategies teachers in primary schools use to teach student a foreign language.

Interview Protocol

Name of Interviewer _________ Name of Interviewee _________ Name of Institution ___________ Date of Interview ______________

Thank you for participating in the following interview. Before we proceed, there are a few things that I want to let you know about the study we are conducting, your privacy and what this interview is about

The project for which this interview is being conducted looks at the strategies which are used by primary school teachers (grade 1 to 3). The study is being done in order to pinpoint the various teaching methods which are used in contemporary educational institutes in order to educate children, in an attempt to understand the best ways of teaching children below the age of 8 a foreign language. The data you provide to us will be analysed holistically and then coded on the basis of categories like teaching through art, through multimedia, through music and so on. For example, if five respondents say that that one of the ways they teach foreign languages is through pictures-books, we will categorise them as visual learning. If two other respondents say that they use animated cartoons to teach a foreign language, we will classify them on both visual learning and multimedia learning.

The researchers want to make a few things clear to you before we proceed with the interview. Firstly, the reason you have been chosen to be interviewed is because you are an educator who teaches some foreign language like French, Spanish or German to children above the age of five and below the age of 8, in an educational institution. Secondly, the questions are all pertaining to the line of inquiry which asks about the teaching methods you employ when you are teaching children a foreign language. For the sake of propriety and to ease the work of the researchers, you are advised to stick to answering in a manner which is relevant to only this and not stray from the particular questions. Thirdly, the study will in no way, shape or form, be evaluative of your teaching methods specifically and will not judge your specific teaching methods to be any better or worse than others. The study will categorise your teaching methods along with many more and compare them with previous research to map out trends and methods and explain them using justifications from previous research.

For the sake of clarity a video and audio recording of the interview will be taken. You will be made aware of when the session starts recording and when it stops recording. At any point, if you feel you do not want to answer questions anymore and want the interview to end, you can do that. Please note that the data you provide to us, be it audio, visual or written data, will only be used for the purpose of this study. Under no circumstances will the data be used for any other purpose or be given to any other individual. We aim to store the data in a secure place and you may ask us to delete the video and audio recording at any time.

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The interview will last for no longer than an hour. For the sake of utilising the time as much as possible, we encourage you to ask us any questions you may have about the process or about the research before the research starts and not while the interview process has already started. In case we feel that we may not be able to ask you everything we intend to in the given amount of time, we may interrupt you in order to get to the next question, for that, we apologise in advance.

Question 1: How long have you been teaching children aged between 5 to 8 foreign language?

Question 2: Describe your teaching style?

Question 3: Would you say you employ non-traditional methods of teaching more than traditional?

Question 4: How would you describe non-traditional methods of teaching?

Question 5: Do you think you can exclusively use non-traditional means of teaching?

Question 6: Please justify your answer?

Evaluation of Data Collection Tool

The data collection method used is a semi-structured interview and the questions are structured in a way that allows the teacher to first think about their teaching style and then clarify on that further, through the questions that are asked later.

The protocol which precedes the questions elucidates in brief detail about how the data collected will be handled, the analysis process of the data in the research and gives the interviewees a brief introduction about what the interview is about. The data collection tool is brief and concise and can be used by other researchers who are trying to work on the same subject. It should be noted that it was made for a specific inquiry and thus the research which aims to use this particular framework of inquiry may need to alter it to suit their needs.

Reflection on working cooperatively in a research community

There are several advantages to doing research as a part of a research group. One of the most significant advantages that is possessed by students is that they are able to understand the pitfalls of their research better when a separate individual is there to check it. Additionally, two or more scholars working on a common factor can bring more creativity and intellectual ability to the process of the work as it makes the scope of the research even more. This is particularly pertinent in the case of inter-disciplinary research whereby the individuals from different subject areas come together in order to work on a common project. Additionally, it has been proved that the academic works which have a bigger number of authors tend to score better on the impact factor of journal articles. The impact factor is the scale on which the popularity of a particular work of research is decided and this is particularly important for research papers.

Total words: 2898

References

Pathak, V., Jena, B. and Kalra, S., 2013. Qualitative research. Perspectives in clinical research, 4(3).

Ramdhani, A., Ramdhani, M.A. and Amin, A.S., 2014. Writing a Literature Review Research Paper: A step-by-step approach. International Journal of Basic and Applied Science, 3(1), pp.47-56.

Ojeda, R., 2010. Instructional Strategies for Teaching Pre-Algebra to a Diverse Group of Learners. Online Submission.

Schiavio, A., Biasutti, M., van der Schyff, D. and Parncutt, R., 2020. A matter of presence: A qualitative study on teaching individual and collective music classes. Musicae Scientiae, 24(3), pp.356-376.

National University. 2021. Why Is Early Childhood Education Important? | National University. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2021].

Writing.colostate.edu. 2021. Writing@CSU. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2021].

Andrews, L., Higgins, A., Andrews, M.W. and Lalor, J.G., 2012. Classic Grounded Theory to Analyse Secondary Data: Reality and Reflections. Grounded Theory Review, 11(1).

Smith, E. (2008). Using secondary data in educational and social research. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education

Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Dale, A., Arbor, S., & Procter, M. (1988). Doing secondary analysis. London, UK: Unwin Hyman

Smith, A. K., Ayanian, J. Z., Covinsky, K. E., Landon, B. E., McCarthy, E. P., Wee, C. C., & Steinman, M. A. (2011). Conducting high-value secondary dataset analysis: An introductory guide and resources. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 28(8), 920- 929. doi:10.1007/s11606-010-1621-5

Heaton, J. (2008). Secondary analysis of qualitative data: An overview. Historical Social Research, 33(3), 33-45

Bris.ac.uk. 2021. Action Research. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2021].

McNamara, T., 2001. Language assessment as social practice: Challenges for research. Language testing, 18(4), pp.333-349.

Flick, U., 2018. An introduction to qualitative research. sage.

Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln, Y.S. eds., 2017. The Sage handbook of qualitative research. Sage publications.

Guba, E.G., Lincoln, Y.S., Denzin, N. and Lincoln, Y., 1998. The landscape of qualitative research: Theories and issues. Competing paradigms in qualitative research, pp.105-117.

Tandemic.com. 2021. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2021].

Sagepub.com. 2021. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2021].

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