Methodologies used by Educational Researchers

August 30, 2019

Different types of research methodologies used by educational researchers
Action Research
Action research is a research methodology (a type of research strategy) that can incorporate a range of different data collection and analysis techniques“Action research implies no specific methods of inquiry. Methods are context-bound and will be operationally shaped in the light of the problems that are presented in the context. Action research has no distinctive methodological characteristics..." (Elliott, 2005: 370) Elliott, J. (2005). Becoming critical: the failure to connect. Educational Action Research.

Case Study
A case study in a common methodology used in educational research, and there are many published studies in education which are considered by their authors to be case studies.
Characteristics of case study:
A case study is by its nature idiographic work, and usually tends to be interpretive."Studies such as these build upon the analysis of single settings or occurrences. They treat each case as empirically distinct and, in contrast, to survey analysis, do not automatically presume that different instances can be thrown together to form a homogenous aggregate." (Hamilton, 1980, p.79.)
Hamilton, David (1980).Some contrasting assumptions about case study research and survey analysis, in Simons, Helen (ed.) Towards a Science of the Singular: Essays about Case Study in Educational Research and Evaluation, Norwich: Centre for Applied Research in Education, UEA.

A case study is a methodology used to explore a particular instance in detail …The instance has to be identifiable as having clear boundaries and could be a lesson, the teaching of a scheme of work in a school department, a university teaching department, a group visit to a museum by one class of students, etc. … Although case study looks at an identifiable instance, it is normally naturalistic, exploring the case in its usual context, rather than attempting to set up a clinical setting - which would often not be viable even if considered useful, as often the case is embedded in its natural context in ways that influence its characteristics (so moving a teacher and a class from their normal setting, to a special research classroom in a university, for example, is likely to change behaviours that would be exhibited in the ‘natural’ setting).” Taber, K. S. (2014). Methodological issues in science education research: a perspective from the philosophy of science. In M. R. Matthews (Ed.), International Handbook of Research in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching (Vol. 3, pp. 1839-1893). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.
Ethnography is an overall research strategy - a methodology - employed in developing some research designs. Ethnographic research is naturalistic and employs data collection techniques such as participant observation and interviews undertaken in the ‘verstehen’ tradition. Ethnography is an approach drawing upon anthropology, which attempts to make sense of a particular culture or group in its own terms: that is to understand the meaning the individuals in that culture of group assign to certain rituals or cultural practices Whilst, ethnographies, that is detailed accounts produced by ethnographic methodology, are relatively rare, if not excluded. in science education, studies which draw on ethnographic approaches and perspectives are quite common.” Thinking Allowed Ethnography Award Shortlist’ concerns “The Ethnography award 'shortlist': Thinking Allowed, in association with the British Sociological Association, presents a special programme devoted to the academic research which has been shortlisted for our third annual award for a study that has made a significant contribution to ethnography, the in-depth analysis of the everyday life of a culture or subculture.”

Observation is a common data collection technique. There are different kinds of observation, so we might better think of observation as a family of techniques, suitable for adoption within a range of research methodologies. Observation is therefore adopted as part of many research designs. Two key ways in which research observation can vary is (a) in the role of the researcher, interns of the stance they present to those observed (and related to this, the extent to which observation is naturalistic or interventionist); and (b) in the level of structure imposed upon the observation process. A Beginner’s Guide to Observations.pdf was produced by educational research students as part of a constructionist class activity.

Types of Research Methods According to the Purpose of the Study

According to the purpose of the study, types of research methods can be divided into two categories: applied research and fundamental research. Applied research is also referred to as action research, and fundamental research is sometimes called basic or pure research. The table below summarizes the main differences between applied research and fundamental research. Similarities between applied and fundamental (basic) research relate to the adoption of a systematic and scientific procedure to conduct the study.
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