Research‘Research is the formal, systematic application ofscientific method to the study of problems’(Gay,Mills & Airasian; 2009).
Types of research Historical research Qualitative research Descriptive research Co-relational research Causal-comparative research Experimental research
Historical ResearchWiersma(1986) defines historical research in thisway, it is a process of critical inquiry into pastevents, in order to produce an accuratedescription and interpretation of those events.
The Steps of historical research•Identification of the research problem(including formulation of hypothesis/questions•Systematic collection & evaluation of data•Synthesis of information(includingconfirmation/disconfirmation of hypothesis)•Interpreting and drawing conclusions
Definition of a problem Historical research problems are identified in thesame way as problems of other types of research. It ismuch better to study in-depth a well-defined problemwith one or more specific well stated questions orhypotheses, then to investigate either too broadlystated problems or a problem for which insufficientdata are available(Gay,1997).
Systematic collection & evaluation of data The sources of historical information arecommonly classified as primary or secondary.‘Primary sources are firsthand access of theevents or experience under study; secondarysources are accounts at least one levelremoved from the event or experience’(Wiersma, 1996).
Collection and evaluation of source material According to Wiersma(1986) a basic rule ofhistorical research is to use primary sourceswhenever it is possible to locate them. Historical evidence is derived from historicaldata by the process of criticism, which is oftwo types; external and internal.
External Criticism‘External criticism in historical researchevaluates the validity of the document-this is,where, when and by whom it was produced’(Wiersma, 1986, p.223).
Internal criticism‘Internal criticism evaluates the meaning, accuracy and trustworthiness of the content of the document’ (Wiersoma,1886, p.224).
Synthesis of informationWiersma (1986), states that central ideas orconcepts must be pulled together andcontinuity between them is developed. As asubstantial period of time-say, several years-iscovered by the research study, the ideas canoften be organized chronologically.
Interpretation and formulating conclusions The final step of historical research methodology is characterized by decision making about the research problem. At the final step conclusions are formulated, and any hypothesis introduced earlier is either supported or rejected.
Advantages of Historical research:•Many current educational practices,theories and issues can be betterunderstood in the light of past experiences.•Researchers can apply scientificobjectivity in attempting to determineexactly what did happen in the past.•If well-done, this research involvessystematic, objective data collection andanalysis.
Disadvantages of Historical research:•In conducting historical research, the researcher canneither manipulate nor control any of the variables.•There is no way, historical researcher can affect eventsof the past.•Historical research cant collect data by administeringinstruments.•Historical research is limited to whatever data areavailable.•Historical research excessively relies on secondarysource of data.
Some examples of problems in historical researchEssays written by elementary school children during the Civil WarAttendee record from two different school districts over a 40-years periodHigh school graduation diplomas from the 1920s
Conclusion•Historical research is necessary to define the situationsof the past and its meaning in the light of the presentproblem.•It can provide a perspective for decision making abouteducational problems, and it assists in understandingwhy things are as they are.•Educational reform and even social reform are functionsoften served by historical research.•Issues are often better understood and probably betterdealt with-if the historical perspective is known.