THE NATURE OF RESEARCH
Some examples of educational concerns:
1) A tenth –grade biology teacher in Palembang wonders if discussions are more effective than lectures in motivating students to learn biological concepts.
2) A physical education teacher in Surabaya wonders if ability in one sport correlates with ability in other sports.
3) A seventh grade student in Bandung asks her counselor what she can do to improve her study habits.
Why Research is of value
Many ways of obtaining information for example: consult experts, review books and articles or examine one’s own past experience. However the scientific method provides us information that is as accurate and reliable.
Ways of knowing:
Using sensory experience as a means of obtaining information, for example: the director of the gifted student program might visit and advanced placement English class to see and hear what happens during a week or two of the semester. Many experiments in sensory perception have revealed that we are not always wise to trust our senses too completely. Sensory knowledge is undependable, it is also in complete. To obtain reliable knowledge, therefore, we cannot rely on our senses alone but must check what we think we know with other sources
Agreement with others
There is a great advantage to checking with others about whether they see or hear what we do. It can help us discard what is untrue and manage our lives more intelligently by focusing on what is true.
There are particular individuals we should consult –experts in their field, people who know a great deal about what we are interested in finding out.
Our intellect-our capability to reason things out-allows us to use sensory data to develop a new kind of knowledge.
The Scientific Method
Scientific method involves testing ideas in the public arena. Almost all of us humans are capable of making connections-of seeing relationships and associations-among the sensory information we experience. Most of us then identify these connections as “facts”-items of knowledge about the world in which we live. All aspects of the investigation are described in sufficient detail so that the study can be repeated by anyone who questions the results-provided, of course, that those interested possess the necessary competence and resources.
The general order of the scientific method is as follows:
1) Identifying a problem or question
2) Clarifying the problem
3) Determining the information needed and how to obtain it
4) Organizing the information
5) Interpreting the results
Types of Research:
Experiment research involves manipulating conditions and studying effects. It is the most conclusive of scientific methods. In the simplest sort of experiment, two contrasting methods are compared and an attempt is made to control for all other (extraneous) variables.
Co- relational Research
Co-relational research involves studying relationships among variables within a single group and frequently suggests the possibility the cause and effect. In this research, we need to collect various kinds of information then examine the data to see if any relationships exist between some or all of this characteristics and subsequent success in the subject matter.
Causal-Comparative research involves comparing knowing groups who have had different experiences to determine possible causes or consequences of group membership.
Interpretations of causal-comparative research are limited, therefore, because the researcher cannot say conclusively whether a particular factor is a cause or a result of the behavior(s) observed.
Survey research involves describing the characteristics of a group by means such instruments as interview questions, questionnaires, and tests. The difficulties involved in survey research are mainly threefold:
1) Ensuring that the questions are clear and not misleading
2) Getting respondents to answer questions thoughtfully and honestly
3) Getting a sufficient number of the questionnaires completed and returned to enable making meaningful analyses.
Ethnographic research concentrates on documenting or portraying the everyday experiences of people, using observation and interviews. It is one form of qualitative research. Other common forms of qualitative research include the case study, biography, phenomenology, and grounded theory.
Historical research involves studying some aspect of the past. The researcher then attempts to reconstruct as accurately as possible what happened during that time and to explain why it did.
Action research is a type of research by practitioners designed to help improve their practice. Action research differs from all the preceding methodologies in two fundamental ways. The first is that generalization to other persons, settings, or situations is of minimal importance. The second difference involves the attention paid to the active involvement of the subjects in a study (i.e., those on whom data is collected), as well as those likely to be affected by the study’s outcomes.
All have value
Each of the research methodologies has value for us in education. It is inappropriate to consider any one or two of these approaches as superior to any of the others. The effectiveness of a particular methodology depend in large part on the nature of the research question one wants to ask and the specific context within which the particular investigation is to take place.
General research types
It is useful to consider the various research methodologies we have described as falling within one or more general research categories: descriptive, associational or intervention type studies.
Descriptive studies describe a given state of affairs as fully and carefully as possible. In educational research, the most common descriptive methodology is the survey.
Associational research investigates relationships. Co-relational and causal-comparative methodologies are the principal examples of associational research.
Intervention studies can also contribute to general knowledge by confirming (or failing to confirm) theoretical predictions (for instance, that abstract concepts can be taught to young children). The primary methodology used in intervention research is the experiment.
Quantitative and qualitative research
Quantitative and qualitative methods differ in their assumptions about the purpose of research itself, methods utilized by researchers, kinds of studies undertaken, the role of the researcher, and the degree to which generalization is possible.
Quantitative researchers usually base their work on the belief that facts and feelings can be separated, that the world is a single reality made up of facts that can be discovered. Qualitative researchers, on the other hand, assume that the world is made up of multiple realities, socially constructed by different individual views of the same situation.
Meta-analysis is an attempt to reduce the limitations of individual studies by trying to locate all of the studies on a particular topic and then using statistical means to synthesize the results of these studies.
Critical analysis of research:
1) The question of reality
2) The question of communication
3) The question of values
4) The question of unstated assumptions
5) The question