OU Research Methods Conference 2011-LWang


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In this presentation I will introduce my thesis, focusing on its methodology. I begin by introducing briefly the research background, then go on to explain the research paradigm which informed and shaped my research design – a multi-site and multi-stage approach that was essentially qualitative-based but also incorporated quantitative elements, i.e. an integration of a survey approach and a collective case study approach. Finally, I discuss some practical issues from the fieldwork such as access, the researcher’s role and ethical considerations that were relevant to my research context and design.

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OU Research Methods Conference 2011-LWang

  1. 1. Liang Wang Department of Languages Faculty of Education and Language Studies Nuts and Bolts of Research – The Mini Conference The good and the bad: merging the survey and collective case study approaches through multi-stage and multi-site fieldwork
  2. 2. <ul><li>PhD thesis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Internet-mediated intercultural English language education in China’s HEIs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MRes dissertation (2006-7) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Limitations: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Survey: online questionnaires + follow-up email interviews </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Self reporting </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Small scale and short period </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Contextual information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Types of HEIs : ordinary, language-focused, college/institute, international partnership, distance education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Goals of English language education : intercultural communicative competence, information literacy, learner autonomy, creativity… </li></ul></ul>Background Page 02/14 The Nuts and Bolts of Research – The Mini Conference
  3. 3. <ul><li>Research questions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How are the ICC dimensions manifested in the language class? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What Internet tools are used for language activities? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How is the use of Internet tools shaped by local educational context? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can Internet-mediated practices evidenced in the study facilitate an intercultural approach to teaching and learning? </li></ul></ul>Background Page 03/14 <ul><li>Factors concerned in the research design </li></ul>The Nuts and Bolts of Research – The Mini Conference Institutional Individual Pedagogical Internet-mediated intercultural teaching & learning in China’s HEIs Technological Promote Apply Utilise Implement
  4. 4. Background Page 04/14 <ul><li>Methods of the research design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The goal is to generate empirical evidence that can contribute to a better understanding of the use of Internet technologies for intercultural language activities, not to seek to claim wider generalisation . </li></ul></ul>The Nuts and Bolts of Research – The Mini Conference Stage 2 Case Studies (Multi-site) Stage 1 Survey (Multi-site) Questionnaires Interviews Observations Documents
  5. 5. Background Page 05/14 <ul><li>Multi-site and multi-stage fieldwork </li></ul><ul><ul><li>24 institutions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stage 1: 09-12/2008 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>21 institutions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stage 2: 02-06/2009 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>5 institutions </li></ul></ul></ul>Going into the field is never as easy as sightseeing… The Nuts and Bolts of Research – The Mini Conference
  6. 6. <ul><li>Sampling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Deskwork + fieldwork </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Purposive sampling: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Literature survey (e.g. U14 ) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Internet search (e.g. U3, U13 , U18) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Opportunity and network sampling </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Personal/conferences (e.g. U2, U4 , U6, U9, U11 , U12, U17 , U22 , etc.) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Snowballing technique </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Criteria of selection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>English classes in higher education institutions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>With Internet mediation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For intercultural activities (can be implicit) </li></ul></ul></ul>Page 06/14 The Good – 1 The Nuts and Bolts of Research – The Mini Conference
  7. 7. <ul><li>Sampling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strengths </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Breadth and depth: strengthening the possibility of combining the extensive with the intensive; selection of information-rich cases </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Single investigator as data collection instrument for standardisation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Multi-site fieldwork as institutional catalyst for innovative practice and collaborative research </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Become more practical and flexible in decision-making </li></ul></ul></ul>Page 07/14 The Good – 2 The Nuts and Bolts of Research – The Mini Conference
  8. 8. <ul><li>Data collection tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>First-hand data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sense of richness and complexity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Multimodal (interviews, physical and virtual observations, paper and electronic documents, photos, audio recordings) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Triangulation/corroboration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>what is said, written, done, interacted </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A chain of evidence </li></ul></ul></ul>Page 08/14 The Good – 3 The Nuts and Bolts of Research – The Mini Conference
  9. 9. <ul><li>Negative natural conditions (the weather, health …) </li></ul>Page 09/14 The Bad – 1 Dear all, I started my visit to… Though not much progress has been made, I’m writing to you in order not to let the freezing weather and my cold (Again!) put off my flame… Hi Liang, Glad to know the flame of enthusiasm still burns, and that you are getting things done, despite the inevitable obstacles. Worth exploring … Hi Liang, Sorry have not replied before. I have followed the emails of your trials and tribulations (lovely mental images of you sitting in a university study lounge trying to keep your flame alive while the rainy season does its worst outside the window!) … The Nuts and Bolts of Research – The Mini Conference
  10. 10. <ul><li>Time and financial constraints </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Time – uncertain </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Stage 1 3 months, averagely 1 week more at one site, visiting one or more than one institutions (including travel, finding accommodation, etc.) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Stage 2 4 months, averagely 1 month + at each site </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost – expensive (limited funding for research students) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Travel + Accommodation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Conference fees </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Internet access </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile communication </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Food </li></ul></ul></ul>The Bad – 2 Page 10/14 The Nuts and Bolts of Research – The Mini Conference
  11. 11. <ul><li>Negotiation of entry </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Seeking consent is time-consuming </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Problematic through the institutional hierarchy (e.g. delay, abort) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Short-notice changes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited access to </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional facilities (e.g. lack of quiet room for audio-recording) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Classes, informants and residence places (e.g. commuting problem and gender issue) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Teaching materials (both printed and electronic) </li></ul></ul></ul>Page 11/14 The Bad – 3 The Nuts and Bolts of Research – The Mini Conference
  12. 12. <ul><li>Strategies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As qualitative research cannot be pre-programmed, it is a matter of ‘a practical activity requiring the exercise of judgement in context’. (Hammersley and Atkinson 1995: 23) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ hour-glass’ strategy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>top-down and bottom-up </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Outsider-in and insider-out strategy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ 1 + n’ strategy (i.e. snowballing) </li></ul></ul>Page 12/14 The Bad – 4 The Nuts and Bolts of Research – The Mini Conference
  13. 13. <ul><li>Quantity vs. quality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fieldwork </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Number of institutions vs. diverse nature of institutions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Gender imbalance among participants </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Researcher’ bias </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Participants’ cooperation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Findings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>limited by the difficulty in collecting complete and consistent data due to different levels of access and cooperation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>statistical analysis is more descriptive than inferential </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>may only apply to the group of samples </li></ul></ul></ul>Page 13/14 The Bad – 5 The Nuts and Bolts of Research – The Mini Conference
  14. 14. Qs & As Page 14/14 Thank you for your listening! Contact: L.Wang@open.ac.uk The Nuts and Bolts of Research – The Mini Conference