EER500 – Introduction to educational research, took a totally different approach to other subjects that I have completed in my Teacher Librarianship studies. The development of my skills and understanding of the core course concepts revolved around the completion of the two assignments. There were no modules to work through like previous subjects, only readings linked to different sections of the assignment. I thoroughly enjoyed this type of learning as I felt as though there was only one lot of work to accomplish and it resulted in a completed assignment.
Assignment 1 for EER500 was divided up in to two sections, A & B. Section A required us to select a media release relating to an area of interest, select 2 – 3 journal articles that related to our area of interest and formulate a research question. Once this task was completed we were required to post all of the information to a wiki including how our developed research question was linked to our selected media release and journal articles. This process took an surmountable amount of time (I am very indecisive by nature). I did start to panic slightly as the due date loomed closer and I still was tossing up between 5 ideas. It is also always daunting to me when you have to post to a wiki that your fellow students are able to see.
My first draft question developed for the 1a wiki post was: The purpose of this research is to determine the role of the Teacher Librarian in facilitating the integration of technology in the school environment.
After completing extensive reading in the area of research question development, I quickly realised that my initial research question required refinement.
I learnt that the best way to evaluate a research question is through established criteria. I developed my own set of criteria to evaluate my draft research question using a number of different sources. My basic evaluation consisted of 5 elements the research question needed to possess.
- clear, concise and in the form of a question (Bryman, 2012).
- ability to make clear what data will be required to answer the research (Punch, 2009; Bryman, 2012)
- imply a relationship between 3 or more variables (O’Toole & Beckett, 2010)
- have a connection and contribution to current literature (Creswell, 2012)
- too broad or too narrow (Bryman, 2012)
After developing these criteria and applying them to my above draft research question I adapted my research question to:
‘How can the teacher librarian in school ‘x’ lead the integration of Web 2.0 technology in the secondary classroom’.
Further iterations were made during assignment 2 which involved establishing the final draft research question and selecting a research design and methods that were most appropriate to answer the research question. Bryman (2012, p. 46) states ‘a research design provides a framework for the collection and analysis of data’. Selecting the most appropriate design and method developed a good understanding of the different types of designs available for research. Ethical issues, paradigms and limitations of my proposed design were investigated. It was clear that there is a debate in the literature surrounding whether research should stem form an initial paradigm or whether the research question should guide research design and methods. For an amateur like myself I believe that it is best to start with a well developed research question that guides the research process.
The process of developing research questions that are focused, is an iterative and reflective process that leads to data. This data needs to add knowledge to a particular field of study. The use of criteria to evaluate research questions and narrowing the focus is essential. A strong research question will aid in the direction and the approach taken to the research. It is important to remember that providing a link between the proposed research and the current literature, as well as outlining the importance of the research and identifying the audience that will benefit are necessary preliminary steps to conduct a successful research project.
How this knowledge will benefit my role as a TL in the future.
Having developed an understanding of how to develop a strong research question and the ability to select an appropriate research design that will answer such a question provides opportunities to gather data that can be used for within the Teacher Librarian role. The emphasis placed on the use of evidenced based practice throughout the Teacher Librarianship course indicates conducting simple research can be highly beneficial in driving decisions regarding structures, systems and programmes within the library. In addition, simple data relating to usage and outcomes of library programmes is a handy tool to present to the principal and school administrators to ensure adequate funding and resources are supplied.
Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods (4th ed.). Oxford, UK: OUP.
Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Punch, K.F. (2009). Introduction to research methods in education. London: Sage.
O’Toole, B. W., & Beckett, D. (2010). Educational research: Creative thinking & doing. South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford Univ Press.