Good afternoon. I am not going to talk about my research specifically. I am rather going to share with you the lessons I have learned in preparing my portfolio, and some of the things I wished I knew when I had started out.
You may have been introduced to this diagram this week? The research journey is an exciting voyage you are about to go on. But before you even reach the island….
… you must first journey though the sea of proposals
Firstly, when you are thinking about the proposal, try not to think of it as a distinctly separate document from your actual research. In fact the research proposal is the blueprint for your research and will inform exactly what you are about to do. I believe there is a risk in seeing the research proposal as just a deliverable required before you begin the actual research work, especially since you will probably be refining it quite a number of times before you actually finalize the document.
Hopefully by now you might have defined an area of interest in which you want to focus your research. Perhaps last year you read some papers that really stood out for you, and which seem relevant to your own context. What I would suggest is that it’s time to critically evaluate those papers, and start thinking about how the researchers are theoretically examining their research.
Start looking for empirical research papers, which include identifiable theoretical frameworks, research questions, explicit methods, results, and maybe even instruments. Look for research which you would like to replicate, build on, or challenge.
Identify the conceptual/theoretical frameworks
Look for the research questions
Examine what the researchers read
I suggest you start summarizing the articles that you find interesting or relevant to your research. This becomes an incredible resource later on when you need to quickly find an element or theme from your readings.
When you think about what you want to research try to identify other studies that you can build from. I suggest you use the theoretical frameworks we have explored, such as structuration theory, Vygotsky’s theories, or other popular educational technology theories
Now I thought I would throw in some examples of thinking theoretically, which are by no means definitive. These are just some ideas to get you thinking about how you will apply a conceptual or theoretical base to your study. What could be happening here? Students are working together in groups. What thoeretical or conceptual frameworks could we apply? Perhaps we could apply the social learning theory of Bandura or Vygotsky.
Investigate what methods other researchers are using in your area of research Consider reusing survey/interview questions Make sure you can explain ‘WHY’ you chose specific methods What I would ultimately suggest is to …
This course talks a lot about methods, and theoretical frameworks, instruments, etc. It can be a little overwhelming to new researchers. When I took the course I wanted to attach myself to everything and jump in~! My advice is to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Design the research tightly, and succinctly, but avoid trying to do everything in this study. For example, trying to do a survey, interview AND a focus group or trying to use Vygotsky, structuration theory and activity theory!! There will be lots of time for more research in the future.
Not aligning the research questions to support the theoretical framework Not focusing the research question tightly enough Not considering past research when designing the study Not reflecting thoroughly on my assumptions Not reading Maxwell (2008) extremely carefully
When I first looked at this model from Maxwell (2008) it was hard to actually imagine specifically how it could work in practice. The research proposal must demonstrate that the researcher has aligned the above elements together very tightly. I suppose if I could give you one take away, it would be to start thinking about your conceptual framework now. Think of the theories we have scrutinized in our course; structuration theory, the zone of proximal development, activity theory, mediation, the learning theories (behaviorism, congitivism, connectivism, etc) Do you have a particular interest in any of these? Think about the themes which these theories raise, how can your questions get at those themes and relate to these theories?
Completing a masters proposal
Completing a masters proposal at the University of Cape Town A student perspective Michael Paskevicius February 10, 2011
… you must first journey though the sea of proposals
The research proposal <ul><li>Not a separate document! </li></ul><ul><li>It is the blueprint for your research </li></ul><ul><li>Beware of just trying to get it done so you can start the research </li></ul>
Thinking theoretically <ul><li>Relate your work to existing studies </li></ul><ul><li>Use the theoretical frameworks we have explored </li></ul><ul><li>Try to associate your what you want to research to a theory </li></ul><ul><li>You are trying to explain what is happening with a well grounded theory </li></ul>
Thinking theoretically Social Learning Theory? (Bandura)
Surveys, interviews, focus groups??? <ul><li>Investigate what methods other researchers are using in your area of research </li></ul><ul><li>Consider reusing survey/interview questions </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure you can explain ‘WHY’ you chose specific methods </li></ul>
Common problems I have faced <ul><li>Not aligning the research questions to support the theoretical framework </li></ul><ul><li>Not focusing the research question tightly enough </li></ul><ul><li>Not considering past research when designing the study </li></ul><ul><li>Not reflecting thoroughly on my assumptions </li></ul><ul><li>Not reading Maxwell (2008) extremely carefully </li></ul>
A Model for Qualitative Research Maxwell, J. (2008) A Model for Qualitative Research Design. SAGE Publications.