Activity 7

Possible Methodologies

"Accounts collected from different perspectives may not match tidily at all. There may be mismatch and even conflict between them. A mismatch does not necessarily mean that the data collection process is flawed - it could be that people just have very different accounts of similar phenomena. You need to critically examine the meaning of any mismatches and make sense of them" (Laws 2003: 281).

It is always important to approach the same research question from different angles, deliberately creating the possibility of mismatches and then analysing their significance and meaning.

READ: Read the following files about four possible research methods which could lay the basis for triangulation: observation, interview, documentary analysis and questionnaire.

"Observation" by Kumar, R. (1999) from Research Methodology: a Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners, pages 105-108, Sage Publications

"Methods of Observation in Classroom Research" by Hopkins, D. (2002) from A Teacher's Guide to Classroom Research, pages 82-101, Open University Press

"Interviewing" by Wellington, J. (2000),  J. Educational Research: Contemporary Issues and Practical Approaches, 71-89

"Using Documents" by Hitchcock, G. (1995) from Research and the Teacher: A Qualitative Introduction to School-based Research, pages 212-219

"Questionnaires" by Opie, C., Doing Educational Research: A Guide to First Time Teachers, pages 95-110

REFLECT: Consider what you would have to bear in mind in using each technique in classroom research to ensure (a) its validity, (b) the reliability of research findings.

WRITE: (a) Write a summary of the main strengths, weaknesses and issues to bear in mind with one chosen methodology which appeals to you. Ensure that you mention issues of reliability and validity. Post this summary on the discussion board and compare your comments with those of one other teacher in your cohort. (b) Write a response of at least 150 words to this teacher's comments. Comment, in particular, on the potential of a mixed methods approach which combines both methodological techniques.

(Allow 90 minutes)