Your first Discussion this week is as follows... In a parent/teacher conference, the parent questions your teaching method for teaching your subject lesson. How would you use action research to substantiate your method? First of all I believe that collaborating with parents and allowing them to understand the educational philosophy that guides my teaching is essential. Parents should be aware of what their child is learning and the instruction that is being used to facilitate their diverse needs. If a parent is questioning my teaching methods, I would definitely set up a meeting to discuss the reasons and research behind my teaching style. I would have work samples of the students work to show to parents and allow them to discuss what their concerns are. As an action researcher, I would use this information and the information I have gathered on the student to form an action plan for the child to be successful. This meeting would allow me to explain to parents what my focus is for their child and the achievement targets I have set after much consideration and observation. I also think it is essential to reflect on their input. The main reason for action research is to improve student achievement (Sagor, 2000).To do this, consideration of information from parents is important when trying to understand the child’s social background as well as needs. I would encourage parents to work as a team with me to help their child succeed. How would you assess an appropriate use of quantitative or qualitative research methodology? Why is selecting an appropriate selection of research methodology important? According to Sagor (pg110) the criteria needed to establish the quality of action research needs to be valid and reliable. When using both qualitative and quantitative research it is important to take the time to discuss and explore both research methodologies to determine what type would be most appropriate to the question being asked. When a researcher determines whether to use quantitative or qualitative research, they must make sure that the research fits the particular topic being explored. According to lecture notes qualitative research is geared more towards the explanation of relationships among certain variables. Qualitative research is more oriented to understanding human nature, so the researchers get close to the research subjects. If the question being explored correlates more with this type of research, the researcher should be more aware of this type of research methodology. If a researcher chooses the wrong type of research could be labeled as invalid and untrustworthy. Your third Discussion this week is as follows... What are the major differences between quantitative and qualitative research? There are many differences between quantitative and qualitative research that researchers must be aware of before choosing a research methodology. Quantitative research is more about numbers and objective data while qualitative research is more subjective and uses different methods of collecting information. Qualitative research includes studying human nature, in-depth interviews and focus groups. Quantitative research refers to counts and measures of things, qualitative research refers to the meanings, concepts, definitions, characteristics, metaphors, symbols, and descriptions of things. The following website was very helpful… http://uk.geocities.com/balihar_sanghera/ipsrmehrigiulqualitativequantitativeresearch.htm EDA 570 Module Two Overview Identifying a Research Problem Evaluate research as it pertains to school effectiveness (APAS 1.5, 1.9, 4.2, 5.2) Readings 1) Text: Sagor, chapters 5-9 2) Article: a) Johnson, B. (1993). Teacher as researcher. Retrieved July 17, 2004, from http://www.ericfacility.net/ericdigests/ed355205.html b) Smith, M. (2001). Action research. Retrieved July 16, 2004, from http://www.infed.org/research/b-actres.htm 3) Websites: a) TaskStream. (2005). Web-based tools to organize, assess, and showcase learning. Retrieved December 14, 2005, from http://www.taskstream.com 4) Other: Lecture Two Assignments 1) Individual: Weekly Journal a) Each week students are required to submit reflections on the week’s learning experience. b) Your entry should be a minimum of 150 words. c) Answer the following questions: i) What are the key points in your reading? ii) Based on your experience as an educator, how can you apply content from this reading to your classroom and teaching? iii) What insight did the reading provide into this week’s topic? iv) How has class discussion influenced your thinking on this topic? 2) Collaborative Learning Community: The Research Problem In a 300-500 word paper, discuss the importance of a research problem in conducting educational research. How do you determine if there is a need to examine a research problem? What are some characteristics of a research problem statement? What does the research problem tell a reader about the study? What happens if the research problem is too narrow in focus? What happens if the research study is too broad? What can researchers do to make sure that the research problem accurately depicts what the study is about and serves as a contribution to the literature? Use examples. a) Submit the assignment by the end of the week. Discussion Questions The instructor will post this mandatory DQ to the Discussion Board for class discussion. 1) In a parent/teacher conference, the parent questions your teaching method for teaching your subject lesson. How would you use action research to substantiate your method? Instructor will assign selected DQs and post them in the Discussion Board for class discussion. 2) How would you assess an appropriate use of quantitative or qualitative research methodology? Why is an appropriate selection of research methodology important? 3) What are the major differences between quantitative and qualitative research? 4) When should quantitative or qualitative research be used? Describe a situation for each approach. Could there be a situation that would require both? 5) Can one use quantitative and qualitative research methodology in the same research? 6) How do you know that a research problem is appropriate for conducting educational research? 7) How would you identify a qualitative or quantitative approach for a research problem? 8) How can you identify the approach when reading other people’s research? 9) What is the relationship between research problem and hypothesis? What is the relationship among statement of problem, research questions, and hypothesis? 10) What kind of research problem is appropriate for qualitative research? 11) We are informally involved in action research (look, think, act) every day as we strive to implement modifications to our existing ways of doing things in an effort to achieve more desirable results. This can include everything from implementing new teaching strategies to trying to housebreak a new pet. Describe an everyday activity in which you engage which follows the action research model. Address the steps in your response as you describe your actions. EDA 570 Lecture Two Identifying a Research Problem Evaluate research as it pertains to school effectiveness (APAS 1.5, 1.9, 4.2, 5.2) Introduction The twentieth century began with one major approach to educational research and ended with two major approaches. This change unfolded slowly during the first half of the century but manifested itself dramatically during the last half of the century. The development of the two approaches, quantitative and qualitative research, is not a case of one approach replacing the other; instead, it reflects the addition of qualitative inquiry to the traditional quantitative approach. Today, both approaches have legitimacy as modes of educational research. Distinguishing Between Quantitative and Qualitative Research Though they have different historic origins, there are several fundamental differences between quantitative and qualitative research. In qualitative research, the investigator studies problems where trends need to be described or explanations need to be developed for relationships among variables. This research is more oriented to understanding human nature, so the researchers get close to the research subjects. When describing a trend, the research problem is best answered by a study in which the researcher seeks to establish the overall tendency of responses from individuals and to note how this tendency varies among people. For example, an investigator may seek to learn how voters describe their attitude toward a bond issue. Results from this study can inform the researcher how a large population views an issue and how diverse their views are about the issue. On the other hand, some quantitative research problems require that the investigator explain the extent to which two variables are related. Researchers collect scientific data, analyze the data, and compare it. Explaining a relationship among variables means that the researcher is interested in determining whether one or more variables might influence another variable. Choosing a Quantitative or Qualitative Approach Given two approaches to research and their accompanying research designs, how do researchers select the best approach for the designing or conducting of research? If educators read a research study, how do they know whether the writer chose the best approach to use? Choosing a quantitative or qualitative approach means selecting either quantitative or qualitative research and employing it as a framework for planning, conducting, and evaluating a project. Making that choice at the outset of the study is necessary because many decisions hinge on whether the study is quantitative or qualitative. Selecting an Approach for the Research Problem Educational researchers identify a research problem, evaluate whether it can and should be researched, and select either a quantitative or qualitative approach to study it. Then the research problem is written into an actual research study. In formal reports such as theses and dissertations, investigators use the phrase statement of the problem, but in published journal articles, authors typically call it the introduction. For convenience, this course will call it the statement of the problem section and define it as an introductory passage in a research report that includes these five elements: 1) The educational topic for the study 2) The research problem within this topic 3) A justification for the problem based on past research and practice 4) Deficiencies or shortcomings of past research or practical knowledge 5) The importance of addressing the problem for diverse audiences Identifying these five elements can make it easy to understand introductions and to write good introductions for research studies. Although participatory action research as a means of social reform is a study in and of itself, this course will focus on action research for educators. A challenge was issued to public schools in the late 1940s regarding the way knowledge is produced and captured when the seminal works of Kurt Lewin, who was influenced by John Dewey, were released. Implementation of action research slowed in the 1950s when the race for space and other global issues rekindled a revival of educational research methods that adhered more closely to the traditional scientific method. The 1970s saw a revival of the action research movement, which empowered educators to become active participants in the change process in their classrooms. Action research has been growing in popularity and acceptance ever since (Quigley & Kuhne, 1997). Kurt Lewin Education is in itself a social process involving sometimes small groups like the mother and child, sometimes larger groups like a school or the community of a summer camp. Education tends to develop certain types of behavior and attitudes in the children or other persons with whom it deals. Education depends on the real state and character of the social group in which it occurs (Lewin, 1936; 1948, p.15). No study of action research would be complete without a study of Kurt Lewin whose fascinating history has shaped the discipline so profoundly. Lewin is considered to be the founder of social psychology and the individual who coined the term action research. He was a decorated lieutenant in the German army during World War I. But when Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933, he left Germany for the United States and never returned. He worked tirelessly to secure a travel visa for his mother who still resided in Germany but was unsuccessful. In 1943, his mother was sent to a Nazi concentration camp in Poland where she died a short time later. These events fueled Lewin’s desire to develop a model for peaceful, systematic, educator-empowering change in public school classrooms that focused on experiential learning and understanding group dynamics (Meadows, 2003). Action Research Models Lewin’s Spiral of Action Research (Lewin, 1948) Identify the plan Reconnaissance or fact finding Organize and analyze Take action Evaluate Lewin’s model focuses on a series of spirals that involve looking, thinking, and acting. Note how the term reconnaissance is a critical component of Lewin’s model. This is indicative of his training as a military officer involved in reconnaissance missions where one would spy on the enemy to collect data, retreat and devise a viable plan of action or intervention, and then take action in the hopes of affecting a change in the situation. Quigley & Kuhne Model A number of researchers have adapted action research models for educational research since the 1940s. Following is a related model proposed by Quigley and Kuhne that features very distinct steps in a sequential order. Quigley & Kuhne Model (Quigley & Kuhne, 1997) Step 6 Transition Step 5 Evaluation Step 4 Implement & Observe Step 3 Measures Step 2 Intervention Step 1 Problem Plan Reflect Act Sagor Model The Sagor model is featured in your textbook, Guiding School Improvement with Action Research. It is based on a seven step process of action and reflection. The Sagor Action Research Model is shown below (Sagor, 2000): Find a focus Clarify theories Identify research questions Collect data Analyze data Report results Take action Conclusion Many research studies in education are not useful due to lack of adequate explanation of a research problem. In addition, research studies with inappropriate use of qualitative or quantitative approaches lack relevance and credibility. It is important to identify a research problem accurately and use appropriate information to conduct the relevant research. References Lewin, K. (1948, 1997). Resolving social conflicts & field theory in social science. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Meadows, C. (2003). Kurt Lewin: Timeline. Retrieved July 17, 2004, from http://www.wku.edu/~meadocm/timeline.html Quigley, A., & Kuhne, G. (1997). Creating practical knowledge through action research: Posing problems, solving problems, and improving daily practice. San Francisco: JosseyBass. Sagor, R. (2000). Guiding school improvement with action research. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.