Research Methods in Education

By Louis Cohen; Lawrence Manion et al. | Go to book overview

3

Research design issues: planning research

Introduction
There is no single blueprint for planning research. Research design is governed by the notion of ‘fitness for purpose’. The purposes of the research determine the methodology and design of the research. For example, if the purpose of the research is to map the field, or to make generalizable comments then a survey approach might be desirable, using some form of stratified sample; if the effects of a specific intervention are to be evaluated then maybe an experimental or action research model is appropriate; if an in-depth study of a particular situation or group is important then an ethnographic model might be more appropriate. That said, it is possible, nevertheless, to identify a set of issues that researchers need to address, regardless of the specifics of their research. It is this set of issues that this chapter addresses. It acts as a bridge between the theoretical discussions of the opening chapter and the subsequent chapters that cover: (a) specific styles of research (Part Three); (b) specific issues in planning a research design, e.g. sampling, validity, reliability, ethics (Part Two); (c) planning data collection (instrumentation, Part Four); (d) data analysis. The intention here is to provide a set of issues that need to be addressed in practice so that an area of research interest can become practicable, feasible and capable of being undertaken. This chapter indicates how research might be operationalized, i.e. how a general set of research aims and purposes can be translated into a practical, researchable topic. To change the ‘rules of the game’ in midstream once the research has commenced is a sure recipe for problems. The terms of the research and the mechanism of its operation must be ironed out in advance if it is to be credible, legitimate and practicable. Once they have been decided upon the researcher is in a very positive position to undertake the research. The setting up of the research is a balancing act, for it requires the harmonizing of planned possibilities with workable, coherent practice, i.e. the resolution of the difference between idealism and reality, between what could be done and what will actually work, for at the end of the day research has to work. In planning research there are two phases—a divergent phase and a convergent phase. The divergent phase will open up a range of possible options facing the researcher, whilst the convergent phase will sift through these possibilities, see which ones are desirable, which ones are compatible with each other, which ones will actually work in the situation, and move towards an action plan that can realistically operate. This can be approached through the establishment of a framework of planning issues.
A framework for planning research
Though, clearly, the set of issues that constitute a framework for planning research will need to be interpreted differently for different styles of research, nevertheless, it is useful to indicate what those issues might be. These include:
1 the general aims and purposes of the research;
2 how to operationalize research aims and purposes;

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Research Methods in Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Boxes xi
  • Acknowledgements xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • Part One - The Context of Educational Research 1
  • 1 - The Nature of Inquiry 3
  • Part Two - Planning Educational Research 47
  • 2 - The Ethics of Educational and Social Research 49
  • 3 - Research Design Issues- Planning Research 73
  • 4 - Sampling 92
  • 5 - Validity and Reliability 105
  • Part Three - Styles of Educational Research 135
  • 6 - Naturalistic and Ethnographic Research 137
  • 7 - Historical Research 158
  • 8 - Surveys, Longitudinal, Cross-Sectional and Trend Studies 169
  • 9 - Case Studies 181
  • 10 - Correlational Research 191
  • 11 - Ex Post Facto Research 205
  • 12 - Experiments, Quasi-Experiments and Single-Case Research 211
  • 13 - Action Research 226
  • Part Four - Strategies for Data Collection and Researching 243
  • 14 - Questionnaires 245
  • 15 - Interviews 267
  • 16 - Accounts 293
  • 17 - Observation 305
  • 18 - Tests 317
  • 19 - Personal Constructs 337
  • 20 - Multi-Dimensional Measurement 349
  • 21 - Role-Playing 370
  • Part Five - Recent Developments in Educational Research 381
  • 22 - Recent Developments 383
  • Notes 396
  • Bibliography 407
  • Index 438
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