Mason’s article:  My take-aways

Using both quantitative and qualitative approaches as well as using a variety of different types of qualitative frameworks was encouraged but thinking about all the dimensions of a situation- in other words, expansive thinking rather than falling into the trap of narrow-mindedness was what she suggested. She encourages us to appreciate how things are inter-linked so that we are coming at things from different angles so as to consider everything that is going on in the context. We should think in terms of looser formulations-linking data and meshing data- instead of seeking to integrate methods and data. The words context and comparisons came up a lot. Qualitatively, we start to think and then extend into other dimensions of thought and interpretations. We need to constantly challenge ourselves to think outside the box methodologically. As teachers we use both quantitative and qualitative all the time to document our students growth and development. I think of the mixed-method approach as like an accordion- a whole organism that is constantly moving in and out from micro to macro and then back in again to the micro. We must be aware of our comfort zone in research and thus challenge ourselves accordingly. In the past, quantitative paradigms have traditionally held sway over the qualitative forms of inquiry so this is why it has been important to challenge our comfort levels. Qualitative researchers have had to fight to be seen as legitimate researchers, but there are still paradigm wars in that we still find ourselves in theoretical stalemates between qualitative and quantitative. I would be more comfortable with qualitative approaches than quantitative approaches, so the challenge for me is to be more open-minded.

 

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We also talked today about our experiences with surveys and what impressions have been left in our mind as a result. Procedural ethics and ethics of practice all come into play when you conduct a survey. When you do a survey online, there are preliminaries to go through as far as informed consent. ECE’s Digital Technologies in Personal and Professional Life survey conducted by UPEI was shown to us as an example. Starts out with informing survey taker of their rights as a ‘surveyee’. Also, questions about demographics are then asked. Then the bulk of the survey follows. At the end, you should always thank the person for responding. A prize at the end is always an incentive. What are the ethics of compensation? Small tokens are better than larger ones- to show appreciation for the person’ gift of time.

Points to keep in mind when developing a survey:

Keep it short (12-15 minutes)

2 types of questions: fixed responses (structured questions) – yes or no, short responses, answers that require a one word answer, allow people to offer something by providing the option of answering “other”.

Make sure you are not double-barreling your questions (ask one question at a time).

Be clear on what answers you are looking for.

Be clear on the ranges you are looking for (no overlapping on ranges).

A ranking question needs to included when applicable as a lot of info can be put into one question

Open-ended questions can be included

Tips for creating a good survey- state that its research you are doing, keep questions short and concise, make sure the questions are unbiased. When people are doing the survey, try to frame half of your questions so that a positive answer is desired; then construct half of the questions in such a way so that they are constructed in a negatively framed way so as to elicit a positive response. Helps keep people thinking and makes them not tune you out.

 

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Case Studies:

Stories from the Field

Rebecca Wisniewski Charlotte M. Murkland School Lowell, Massachusetts

Challenges with non-readers in this case study, so they created a team to look at their own practices/perspectives into the learner. They had done a lit review first then they had a bit of a division over the actual focus. Each researcher targeted something they felt was important/pertinent to their actual practice. The most powerful part of the action research was listening to their students. Findings: they needed to put supports in to place to support the students’ mother tongue first before transferring that learning to another language. The action research was invaluable. When they started trying to pick their focus, there was a bit of a breakdown which ended up being a benefit because more got done.

Stories from the Field

Julie Nora, from Roger Williams Middle School,Providence, Rhode Island

She asked: Does the explicit teaching of the NCEE standards enhance ESL student performance? She found that the action research dramatically improved performance of the students. She found it addressed the needs of her students and she documented the progress.

 

Breakfast program by Ros Beadle:

Making Good Food at Warburton School was a case study that started with four grandmothers in Warburton. They created a program that was self-sustaining which continues to involve.

Methodology in the case studies

Is it important to have a professionally trained researcher in the mix at times, as teacher lean on them for that for support?  Martha argues that this would go against the philosophy of our course in action research.

Kennedy’s article- overall problem was that gov’t services being offered weren’t meeting the needs of aboriginals in Australia due to a lack of communication.

There is a snowball effect- new topics of research came up continually from the original questions that were posed.

 

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The Problems with Interviews:

Nunkoosing’s article discussed 4 methodological and theoretical problems can occur in qualitative research.

1. Power and resistance

2. Distinguishing truth and authenticity

3. Impossibility of consent if knowing is a problem for both the interviewer and the interviewee

4. Nature and significance of stories and self

Power and resistance

The interview is the most widely used way of generating data in qualitative research and much depends on the skill of the interviewer. Interviews invite people to think and talk. Purpose of an interview is to construct stories and versions of events that can have the possibility of generating theories.

The power of the interviewer lies in his position as seeker of knowledge and the power of the interviewee lies in his position of knowledge authority. There is an interplay of power throughout the interview, between the interviewer and the interviewee- the interviewer has to get the interviewee to buy into the whole idea, agreeing or resisting the persuasion of the interviewer. The interviewer is also in apower relationship with his or her research committee/community.

There is also creative artfulness on the part of the interviewer and the interviewee calling to mind questions of deceit. And there is always risk involved when one opens themselves up to scrutiny.

Distinguishing truth and authenticity

The interviewer and interviewee collaborate to create the story- in this sense, all stories and authentic more than they are true. We corroborate the truth by adding information from other sources (such as interviewing people close to the interviewee). In an interview, people always have the right to resistance and keep some information confidential. The interviewer uses his voice to enable the interviewee to tell the stories that would otherwise remain untold. What is not revealed is just as important as what is revealed.

The Problem with Consent

Sometimes things come out in an interview that are unplanned and pose harm or duress for the interviewer and as such were not consented for in the original, preliminary consent disclosure.

The Interview and the Project of the Self

There can be political motivations and career advancements in mind when an interviewee agrees to give an interview- the interview is not a neutral product of the academy. What is the purpose being served by the interview? In an interview, self is always involved in a performance. The interviewer and the interviewee are always changed by the nature of the interview. Is what has been talked about an exact replica of what has been lived?

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I conducted an interview with Jeff Powers which I have sent to my professor as interview transcript notes.  I found that the interview was a very satisfying undertaking for me as I was able to learn more about Jeff than I would otherwise have time to know or discover.  I asked a few set questions then branched off on other probing questions as they arose in conversation.  Something I noticed in the course of the interview was that Jeff became more comfortable as time went on and revealed more to me.  I felt that the levels of trust were strengthened as the interview transpired.

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