Developing STEM education research practices

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Pedagogic/Educational Research. Pedagogic or educational research is systematic and sustained enquiry, planned and self-critical, which is subjected to public criticism and to empirical tests where these are appropriate. [] Research is educational to the extent that it can be related to the practi

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Developing STEM education research practices

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1. Developing STEM education research practices Research Design Developing a Research Question

2. Pedagogic/Educational Research Pedagogic or educational research “is systematic and sustained enquiry, planned and self-critical, which is subjected to public criticism and to empirical tests where these are appropriate. […] Research is educational to the extent that it can be related to the practice of education” (Stenhouse, 1985, pp. 18-19).

3. Pedagogic/Educational Research Pedagogic research is NOT “reports of studies providing descriptive and anecdotal accounts of teaching developments and evaluations …. Pedagogic research is firmly situated in its relevant literature and high quality pedagogic research makes a substantial contribution to that literature” (RAE generic statement, HEFCE, HEFCW, SFC and DfEL, 2006).

4. Largely from the social sciences in its approach, research methods and interpretation of results, and may involve a shift in perspective from the seeking of irrefutable ‘facts’ and universal ‘truths’, to offering new insights, acknowledging the subjectivity of researchers, the impact of the research process itself on subjects and outcomes, and the agency of the subjects of the research. Nonetheless, this does not make educational research and its methods less rigorous or valid than those of the physical sciences, but they may require researchers to take a different approach, draw from a different body of knowledge and take particular care over study design and consideration of confounding variables.

5. Sarah Mann, University of Glasgow Research Design Research question Developing research design What data do you need in order to answer your research question(s)? What methods (techniques) will best enable you to collect data you need? What research design, using this/these method(s) will best help you collect the data need Timing, sampling, context and methods. Ethics This applies to all pedagogic research and what you can/cannot do may affect your question and design JUSTIFIABLE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN QUESTION, METHOD and DESIGN.

6. HEALTH WARNING! Watch the size of the question in relation to time and funding. More often than not, people ask 3 or 4 PhDs worth of questions for a small scale project. Research question development and then design is an iterative process. Jenni Case - guide

7. Ethics – don’t leave it until the end! Educational research has an ethical dimension as we are involving people. Even if your department does not require ethical clearance you are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to follow the BERA guidelines (see handout). You as pedagogic researchers may be more known to you than your institution/departments ethics committee's). It is the researchers responsibility to adopt a strong ethical framework is key to enhance the scholarship and credibility of your research and exemplar good practice in pedagogic research.

8. Research Question Bordage and Dawson (2003) emphasise that ‘the single most important component of a study is the research question. It is the keystone of the entire exercise’ (p. 378).

9. Qualitative/Quantitative Your research question will lend it self to qualitative or quantitative methods OR a mixed-approach. Don’t let the method dictate the question or be a slave to a method you have used a lot. Qualitative approaches are not just about ways of collecting data but about the framework of analysis. CONCENTRATE ON THE RESEARCH QUESTION FOR NOW

10. ‘There is a caution against a narrow view of empirical research on which the hunting and gathering of data are treated as the primary purpose of the research enterprise. Equally important is the ongoing scholarship you bring to the research cycle so that your work has a strong intellectual direction’. (Cousin 2009)

11. Bordage and Dawson (2003) Where to start – research question What topic (idea) of study are you interested in? What has already been done in this area (the literature)? What major outcome(s) (dependent variable) are you interested in? What intervention (independent variable) are you interested in? Are you looking for differences or a relationship (association)? To what group (population) do you wish to apply your results? What is your specific research question? What answer to your question do you expect to find (the research hypothesis)? Why is this question important today (relevance)?

12. ON a flip chart paper…. Start the 9-step process! Do not rush the process Be aware of all your own views/thoughts on the topic and assumptions you may make Look at the table of research types – which category do you think the research fits into?

13. What next…. You may start to think about data/methods - write this down on the flip chart but we will cover this later on. How JUSTIFIABLE is your research design?

14. Data What DATA do you need NOTE NOT WAYS OF COLLECTING BUT WHAT THINGS DO YOU NEED Highlight the KEY words in your question E.g. attitude, perceptions, experience How do you get ‘at’ this data Note, here is when may consider timing, sampling (see handout), WHO and context.

15. Methods How will you collect your data? Why this approaches? Link to literature here Triangulation maybe, mixed mode or all qualitative or quantitative

16. Methodology Methodology is about the whole design as well - a systematic set of activities Timing, sampling, decisions about what you record and don’t record and be explicit about your choices. When thinking about collecting data and the methods consider how you will analyse it This will affect what and how you collect What is your theoretical framework for the whole research design E.g. induction or deduction – see Jenni’s guide for more


18. References Bordage G, Dawson B. Experimental study design and grant writing in 8 steps and 28 questions. Medical Education 2003; 37:376–85 Bryman, A. (2008), Social Research Methods - third edition, Osford University Press, UK Cousin G (2009) Researching learning in Higher Education, Routledge, New York Creswell, J. (2007), Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches, SAGE, London Stenhouse, L. (1985) In Rudduck, J. and Hopkins, D. (eds.), Research as a basis for teaching: readings from the work of Lawrence Stenhouse. Oxford: Heinemann Educational. HEFCE, HEFCW, SFC, and DfEL. (2006). Generic Statement on criteria and working methods. From [accessed 9 July 2009] Quinn Pattern, M. (2002), Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods, SAGE, London What is educational research? [accessed 9 July 2009]

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