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Unit 6: Methods and an example.

27 September 2011

As promised by Peter, here are his presentations from last week;

It was interesting to pull to pieces the questionnaire on teachers’ careers. Some of the points which emerged and are worth noting are:

  • the importance of context. The covering letter frames the whole thing in terms of how the respondent reacts to it.
  • instructions.¬† and their corollary; if anything can be misunderstood, it will be.
  • first impressions: what does it look like–does it inspire confidence?
  • the missing questions: those you fail to ask, thus jeopardising cross-tabulations and the like.
  • vagueness and precision; there’s always a trade-off.
  • ethical issues; being up-front about the purpose of the survey and its outcomes (and double standards between journalism and entertainment, and academic studies).
  • and the stats! See here for an introduction to Pearson’s chi-squared test.

We then looked at some of the issues around interviews (on the presentation) and the practicalities of recording, and selectivity of interpretation, and changing technique over time as a result of one’s own learning, etc.

But we also talked about the importance of combining, methods, sources and evidence, for triangulation of results.

In the process of this discussion we touched on a few side-issues (as ever!):

  • nowadays ethically impossible experiments; Milgram’s obedience and Zimbardo’s prison experiments in particular. But see here, too. And the BBC’s partial replication in 2002 here.
  • Kelly’s personal construct psychology is introduced here. Thomas and Harri-Augstein’s Self-Organised_Learning Conversations are not well served on the web–search for yourselves!
  • The stuff on fire-fighters’ decision-making can be traced from here.
  • And Wordle is here.

After the break, we revisited the action-research cycle, looking at how we could (more or less) plug in Merielle’s ideas to it, and provide a structure for her work:

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