Methodology of an Australian Study Essay

Pages: 6 (1615 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Teaching

Green, N. (2006). "Everyday life in distance education: Case studies with three families in Queensland, Australia." Retrieved via Proquet's Dissertations & Theses database (AAT NR13979).

As the title of this field study clearly indicates, this postgraduate research project was concerned with the general and everyday experiences of students enrolled in distance education programs in Queensland, Australia. While quite directly and accurately reflecting the people and the place that were studied during the research phase of this project, the title fails to define the specific research questions and areas being examined. The study itself, as a matter of fact, does not clearly define its aims, or has rather general aims, perhaps -- the author expresses a desire to, "learn how the mothers as home tutors and their children experience distance education," but this experience is not further quantified or qualified as part of the research question. This serves as a running problem throughout the study; criteria for evaluation must be rather lose and flexible as many elements of the research are similarly loosely defined, and research seems to have been conducted with this flexible perspective in mind.

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While there is an educational issue being studied, for instance, it is neither highly specific nor well-defined -- distance education and home tutoring are examined generally from a humanistic perspective, but without any further delineation. The author does not adequately demonstrate the importance of either the research or the perspective that was employed in the field study, and though some concepts are situated in previous literature there is not a clear trajectory or commonality shared between this study and previous research.

Essay on Methodology of an Australian Study Assignment

The research problem, insofar as one exists, definitely fits a qualitative approach to empirical investigation, and indeed the assumptions that the field study and the researcher rely on necessitate a qualitative approach, as the concepts of place and personhood utilized in the conducting of the research would need to be far better defined in order for quantification to occur. It could be suggested that due to the quantitative nature of the study and the specific questions involved in the research, it is somewhat unfair to judge the ill-defined nature of the research question and elements based on their lack of clear definition. Despite the purposefully and consciously subjective nature of this study and the elements of the research question, however, an expectation of a more clearly defined research question is definitely warranted as part of the criteria used to measure the efficacy of this research. No experiential analysis could ever hope to be complete, nor would a complete analysis be useful; defining specific elements to be examined would make the research more effective and more easily presented by the researcher and understood by the reader.

The study does not follow standard American Psychological Association style in its subheadings or the layout of the report, nor is there a formal literature review presented as such. The author does provide background information that relates to some of the concepts and research elements insofar as they are defined in the study, but this review appears to be more in preparation of the research conducted rather than in response to the research findings. This appears to be in keeping with the generalized and broadly-focused perspective of the researcher.

Neither an overriding purpose statement or a central research question are specifically or explicitly defined in the study; though the author makes her intent of examining the general daily experience of both mother-tutors and their students in distance learning settings quite clear, this is not the same as a true purpose statement. Based on experience reading a great many research articles and dissertations, purpose statements ought to demonstrate the practical applicability or even necessity of providing answers to the central research question, and this is not accomplished in this study at all. This criteria is definitely valid, however, as it forces research to be situated more completely in the real world rather than relegating itself to purely self-serving academic introspection. The primary research question, as noted above, is not even defined, so the applicability of answering this unstated question is necessarily non-existent, and the study must therefore be understood as precisely this type of self-serving and self-focused academic investigation.

Again, the people and the place are well defined in this study, and are highly specific, but the selection of these specific individuals and the place appear to have been more a matter of circumstance than a deliberate part of the investigation engaged in by the researcher. There is no centrality to this study, in other words, by which the people and place encountered in the research could be identified or associated with, further broadening the focus of the research and diminishing its clarity. Though the study is narrowed somewhat by the specific findings of the research, this narrowing is not accomplished through more narrowly defined investigation.

When it comes to gaining real and meaningful access to the people and places examined in the research, the researcher showed a large amount of dedication and success, spending three consecutive days every month with each family of subjects for five consecutive months. Formal interviews, informal conversations, photographs taken by subjects and by the researcher, and journals kept by the mother-tutors were all a part of the data collection methods used by the researcher, and these definitely provided an immersive understanding of the expectations and experiences of those involved in distance education programs in Queensland, Australia. For all of its immersive qualities and the comprehensive nature of the researcher's observations, however, they seem to have been conducted without any real concern in regards to protocol or standardization. Indeed, it appears as though the researcher found such concepts limiting, and wished to remain open to all types of data collection during her stays with the families participating in the research study.

This also indicates the lack of true selective sampling that occurred in this study. The researcher's potential participants were, admittedly, limited, as there are not large numbers of distance education program students and tutors in Queensland, Australia, making additional selection criteria prohibitive to the conducting of any research. The reasons behind the selection of Queensland, Australia for developing an understadning of the distance education and home-tutoring experience are also not provided, though, and this information would be very useful in providing some clarity as to the central research question and purpose of the study.

Analysis of the collected data took place along lines as general and as ill-defined as the research question and data collection practices themselves. Though this research was situated in concepts previously identified and defined by prior scholars, and fit into existing theoretical frameworks, there was no explicit attempt to interpret findings based on such frameworks. The conclusions appear to be well supported, but the selective presentation of real data and the lack of clear background theories make it difficult for anyone outside the research to make a clear determination in this regard. Many different layers and angles of the issue were discussed by the researcher, but this has an effect of weakening the overall research by obfuscating the purpose and intent of the study. Developing clear frameworks prior to actually conducting research provides a means for comparison and theoretical growth, and the researcher's avoidance of concrete theoretical underpinnings damages the efficacy of this field study and of its presentation in this dissertation.

Because there were no explicit research questions defined, it is meaningless to attempt to ascertain whether or not the analysis of the research findings answered the research questions or not. The findings were fairly realistic, at least in terms of anecdotal expectation, but other than finding educational activities were considered a "chore" by students and mother-tutors alike these findings were fairly inconclusive. The many different perspectives that the research employed, rather than creating a well-organized and multi-faceted… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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