Swetnam, D (2000:34) says "the basic question tackled here is 'How am I going to find out the answer?'". This quotation shows that it is important to select the appropriate approach to find answers to your research questions. There are different researching approaches such as: action research, quantitative research, ethnographic research and case study research.
In education as a researching field most approaches involve studying a group of learners. In this post I will talk about 'case study' approach which I used in one of my researches. Case study approach is appropriate for individual subjects because, as Bell. J. (1993:10) says "it gives opportunity for one aspect of problem to be studied in some depth within a limited time scale". The great strength of this approach that it helps researcher to focus on a specific situation and to identify the various interactive process during researching. This approach gives more information about individuals or small groups to see how much changes have occurred among the subject of the research. Brown and Rodgers (2002:22) say "case study research comprises an intensive study of background, current status and … interactions of a given social unit: an individual, a group, an institution or community".
This approach has a cautious focus on particular cases. That means I -as a teacher- cannot cover a whole class with twenty or thirty pupils. Case study can show the development of a small chosen group. This approach can allow me to research through a specific period of time; (a month, a semester or a year).
Researching Methods and Materials
It is important to think about how you choose your researching methods and how to collect data to answer your research question. These methods fall onto different categories which are measuring what happens, watching what happens and asking about what happens or doing things which are new to see if they succeed. Controlling is one of these categories. It means limiting what you do to avoid factors which have nothing to do with your study or might interfere with your results.
'Controlling' contains questionnaires and surveys, interviews and observations, examination and experimentation. In addition, researcher can use video recording , analysis' test-results, analyzing diaries. Blaxter, L. et-al (1996) say "when choosing a research topic, it makes sense to think about the method you will use to collect and analyse data as soon as possible".
Observation is one of the suitable methods in a case study. It can help you in watching, gathering and analyzing data. Before stating observation you have to decide what is the purpose behind it. You need to have a specific target each time you observe to avoid the interfering of data in order to have organized data.
Data Gathering: Qualitative or Quantitave?
It is important before starting a research to think about the type of data which are required. There are two different types: qualitative and quantitative. The concept of qualitative data is often in the form of words. It comes from methods that watch and ask. It is analyzed by finding pieces of data that are similar or very different.
On the other hand, the concept of quantitative data is in the form of numbers. It comes from methods that measure and control. It is often collected by using an experimental approach. Data are presented as numeral information. However the situation may not be natural.
Time management can simplify the carrying out of your research, because you will have clear view to what you will have done or not. As an example, the following table shows my dissertation time-line which helped me to manage my research. It also defines the researching materials. My research-question was "What Are The Errors Of Handwriting While Using The Four Guide-Lines Which Are Made By Some Young Omani Learners Of English Language In Grade Five Of General Education?"
1.Reading about researching approaches and methods.
2.Deciding my research topic and question.
1.Writing proposal for my dissertation.
2. Submitting of my proposal.
November 2004 , December 2004 , January 2005
1.Preparing material and instrument to gather data
February 2005 , March 2005 , April 2005
1.Data gathering about my topic. Reading and collecting information about the Omani system of teaching handwriting in grade five of general education.
2.Examine new teaching techniques in order to see any changes or development in my pupils' performance.
Prepare data in written form.
August 2005 , September 2005
Preparing the theoretical part of my dissertation
October 2005 , November 2005
1.Writing the first draft of my dissertation.
2.Checking my written work.
3.Writing the final report of my dissertation
Submitting my Dissertation.
. Bell, J. (1993, 2nd edition) Doing Your Research Project. Buckingham: Open University press.
. Blaxter, l., Hughes, Ch & Tight, M. (1996) How to Research. Buckingham: Open University press.
. Brown, J.D, & Rodgers, T.S (2002) Doing Second Language Research. Oxford: Oxford.
.S wetnam, D. (2002) writing your Dissertation. How to Book Ltd: Oxford.
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