Research Methods in Education

 

1. You will be given 5 different articles to choose from, which will span a variety of
methodological approaches. You will select one paper only for your review. Using
course readings and any relevant published (peer-reviewed) academic literature that
you find, you will answer the following questions:
1.1. What is the article about? What is its thesis statement, area of inquiry, research
questions and objectives?
1.2. Does the author(s) draw upon previous research in establishing their
methodological approach or to justify the use (or non-use) of a particular method?
1.3. What research methods are used? To collect the data? To analyze the data?
1.4. Is the research design appropriate to the thesis statement and/or research
question(s)? Why or why not?
1.5. Do you think the research design has “reliability”? Do you think the data has
“internal and external validity”?
1.6. In terms of the methods and research design, how could this study or project be
improved upon?
1.7. What does this article teach you about research methods (either generally, or in
relation to the specific methods applied)?
PART TWO
2. “Many schools post values on walls and reiterate the importance of values in
classrooms, during assemblies, and at other school events. But the challenge is not
simply moral literacy—in fact, research indicates that most students, like my daughter’s
friends, know values such as honesty and respect by the time they are five or six years
old. Because they know these values, many children—especially adolescents—feel
patronized by lectures about values. And some children, as the question asked by my
daughter’s friend suggests, become nimble at simply parroting back what adults want
to hear.” - an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter
You as a researcher is designing a study to see if moral literacy in our schools to better
moral development. For your study on moral development see if you can design an
intervention study that qualifies as a true experiment. Use levels of moral literacy as the
dependent variable. The goal of the intervention is to increase levels of moral literacy.
2.1. Develop an intervention that you could test in the experiment. The intervention has
to be something that you control and that you think will have an impact on
individual levels of moral literacy for a specific population. Start by getting your
conceptual model which would answer questions such as – what factors do you
think impact levels of moral literacy? Which of these factors can you, the
researcher, change?
2.2. How would you recruit participants from the target population? How would you
assign them to the experimental group and the control group?
2.3. What measurements will you need to make? When will you make these
measurements (relative to the treatment)? How will you make these measurements
 

 


Part 1
1.1 About the article

 

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The article is about the problems that people face in promoting moral values in the higher education system of Jordan. It says that there are differences in the moral values of differences in education, culture, religion, gender, family background, etc., and there are various cultural and environmental effects on the moral system of the country. So it is necessary to handle moral education issue as it is an ethical issue too. If it is not addressed timely, then the materialistic values will start to press on the behavior of people. 
The thesis statement is “This study focuses on how moral values differ and vary according to variants such as education, culture, thoughts, and religion, gender and family relations. It handles the issue of moral education in Jordan, from the perspective of graduate students in Petra University.” (Jarrar, 2013)
Area of inquiry of this study is Petra University, Jordan
Research questions and objectives of this study are:
                                                
The objective of this study is to focus on a major challenging factor of moral education in Jordan where most of the part of its people are graduates or undergraduates. It also tries to emphasize on moral education in Jordan, tries to find the reality and find ways by which it could be developed (Jarrar, 2013).  
Research questions are (Jarrar, 2013)-
How is moral awareness affecting Jordanian university students' moral behavior?
Is there any moral education affecting the students' thinking of morality and moral behavior?
What are the main factors affecting moral values in terms of youth perspectives?

 


1.2 Analysis of literature review

 


As per the literature review mentioned in the study, I don’t find that author has drawn upon previous researches in establishing their methodology because most of the literature that the author has reviewed has used secondary sources to come to the conclusion of their researches. None of the authors mentioned in the literature review have used a primary method or questionnaire to conduct a study in this field. But the current researcher has used a questionnaire as his research tool. In one of the papers, the author reviewed 59 studies and analyzed then to find the results. Another researcher trusted the empirical findings to come to conclusions. Then another review was a book from where the author picked some important concepts (Jarrar, 2013). So it is not found anywhere that current methodology has been referred from previous researchers.

 


1.3 Research methods

 


The author has used primary research in which a questionnaire is administered to the sample.  The author wanted the answers to some specific questions, so he used the questionnaire as his tool of conducting the research. 50 statements were included in the questionnaire to know about the moral values owned and believed by people of Petra University. A sample of 300 was chosen, and no specific technique for choosing the sample has been mentioned in the paper. The data of 296 questionnaires could be analyzed because other questionnaires were not filled properly. Data analysis was done using frequency and percentages, and results were displayed using tables. Though no specific software is mentioned in the paper which is used to analyze the data, I assume the author might have used either MS Excel or SPSS because these are the two software in which are used by the researchers to analyze the data and make the tables and calculate the numbers. 

 


1.4 Research design

 


The thesis statement is about differences in moral values and moral education issue in Jordan. And the research questions relate to how the moral awareness affect the moral behavior of students of Jordanian university, is there any moral education affecting the students' thinking of morality and moral behavior and what are the main factors affecting moral values in terms of youth perspectives.  
So I find that the research design is appropriate to the thesis statement as well as the research questions. The administration of the questionnaire has helped in achieving the desired results, have fulfilled all the objectives and have answered all the research questions. The questionnaire that has been designed by the author contains 50 elements, and all of them are relevant as per the thesis statement. Also, the sample size was appropriate to capture the view of people. Author has chosen the appropriate scope for this study as this study was relevant only when it was conducted on students of a university at both graduate and undergraduate level. The literature that the author has reviewed is also apt as per the study. Other researchers have used the secondary method, but here both primary and secondary has been used which has given the author an added advantage as the analysis could be done in a better way with proper statistics.  The entire strategy is logical and coherent to conduct this study, and it has helped in delivering the results. The main thing in research is that it should be able to address the research problems effectively which has been very well achieved in this. 

 

1.5 Reliability and validity

 


Yes the research design has both reliability and validity. It is important to test the reliability and validity to know that whether the purpose of the questionnaire is served or not. Reliability is tested to ensure that if it is re-applied to the respondents again, then same results will be delivered, and validity means the study measures what was intended to measure. It was valid as many faculty members of Jordan University reviewed it and they found that it can measure what is an aim to measure. Also, when the data was analyzed, and results were concluded then the objectives were fulfilled. To test the reliability of study, the best method is to calculate Cronbach’s Alpha. Almost all researchers who carry out a primary research use this method to determine their internal consistency of data as it is an important thing to consider and display. It is calculated in SPSS. The alpha was 97% which was very high from the minimum acceptable limit of 60%. So the reliability of data is very high. 
Talking about validity, when the study permits its results to generalize the population at large then it is said to have high external validity. Internal validity is the degree of success in removing the cofounding variables in a study. Validity cannot always be too high, too low etc. it varies along the continuum from low to high. The possibility that confounding arises is from the non-random patterns in the membership of sample of the study or within the groups selected for the study. Thus internal and external validity can be affected in a number of ways and nothing is predictable in it. It is often only after doing a great deal of work that is discovered that some glitch in the procedures or some oversight renders the results uninterpretable.

 


1.6 Improvements in the study

 


 In terms of the methods and research design, the following things can be considered to improve the study:  
The study should incorporate a detailed explanation about the relevance of study and what is the importance of this study, which will be benefitted from it, what are the possible implications, etc. The relevance should be emphasized in more detail. The rationale is most important part of the research design which should be explained here in detail.  The literature review does not support the research methods used by the author. So more literature can be reviewed in this that have used similar research methods so that they can be referred in this study. The research could have been conducted using hypothesis as it helps to review the literature in detail and key unknowns can be identified. The questionnaire is a bit long, and it can demotivate the people to fill it. When questions are less to answer, then people fill it more actively, without getting bored and hence results are more valid. The sample size could have been increased. Since the scope of this research was broad, so more people could have been incorporated in the study. The data analysis of this study is limited to finding frequency and percentages; it could have been more detailed. A factor analysis can be done for the research question- ‘What are the main factors affecting moral values in terms of youth perspectives?’ This will make the study detailed, attractive and relevant. 
1.7 Learnings
I have learned that research can be primary and secondary. Primary research is carried out when specific questions and issues are to be answered.  The questionnaire is the tool which helps in carrying out primary research. Secondary research is used when existing literature, researches, books, journals are reviewed. It helps the author to know that what have been done earlier in the same field or area. The interpretation of primary sources is made by secondary sources. In secondary sources, the results of two or more primary sources are reviewed and analyzed. When the author collects the data himself, it is primary research, and when the data is collected by someone else, and then it is secondary research. The researcher can control the needs and quality of data in primary research which is not there in secondary. But primary research is a bit costlier than secondary. I have also learned that research is of no use until it is reliable and valid so reliability and validity should be tested if the questionnaire is not standardized on a particular sample before moving ahead with the research. This ensures that purpose and relevance of research are not lost.  

 

Part 2
2.1 Intervention

 


Moral literacy is the level of skills and knowledge which helps a person to make ethical choices, and it can be learned, but skills are required so that people can be more or less competent. It does not come naturally; the effort is to be made for developing right level of skills. 
Factors that impact level of moral literacy:
Geographical location, culture, socio-economic factors, ethics sensitivity, ethical reasoning skills and moral imagination. 
As a researcher ethics sensitivity, ethical reasoning skills and moral imagination can be changed to increase the level of moral literacy in people. 
In schools, human relations are very important. The center of instructions for students at school lectures on moral actions, and they are also taught the leader-follower relation with teachers and principals. The highest rate of ethical responsibility is necessitated by the management of the school and teaching and it is there amongst all current professions. The dimensions of morality and culture are emphasized in school leadership. It is important to understand and comment on the issues that take place in the process of ethical decision making as it form a the base for moral literacy ("2. Methods: Data Collection Activities", 1980). If the leaders start playing ethical roles from very basic level like from school level, then moral literacy can be increased among people. There is a problem of ethical dilemma faced by people today. Ethical dilemma means that people have to make a choice between two alternatives that are equal, or they have two answers, and both of them are right.  It is important to determine that how people decide among the two alternatives. So for increasing moral literacy, it is very important to give ethical education to people so that they don’t face this dilemma. Also, the people who face ethical dilemmas are the ones who have low levels of moral literacy. Moral literacy reflects the competency of a person to know, understand, comment and evaluates the major elements in the process of the ethical decision so that people can make right decisions.  
The key component of moral literacy is ethics sensitivity. When people have skills by which they recognize the issues related to morality and they are able to take decisions that affect the welfare of others then they are said to be morally sensitive. So this needs to be taken care of if the moral literacy has to be increased.  If we talk about the reasoning skills, then it can be increased by asking situation based questions to people that have two answers. Whatever option is chosen by the respondent he can be told about the positives and negatives of it.  He can be made aware of the situation, and he can be taught that what is right and what is wrong in the situation. Then moral imagination can be increased by asking ‘If-Then’ questions to people. For example- IF the problem is complex and the decision has the potential for causing harm, THEN how do you reframe the problem from a variety of perspectives to get a better understanding of the situation? This will increase the sensitivity to ethical implications when people take decisions and hence moral literacy can rise ("2. Methods: Data Collection Activities", 1980). 

 


2.2 Recruiting participants

 


Recruiting participants from target population mean that I have to select a sample for my study. There are five types of sampling. In simple random sampling, each participant has equal chance of getting selected in the study. It is generally used by the researcher as it is very easy to use; it is selected as per the convenience of researcher and the sample is selected purely on the basis of random selection of participants. The probability of participants to get selected in the sample study is equal, anybody can be picked. Then there is cluster sampling in which there is a population that is divided into groups called clusters and then the researcher uses a simple random sampling method to choose the clusters randomly. Here it is not probable that all individuals have equal chance of getting selected, but each cluster has equal chance of getting selected. Researcher can pick any cluster as per his convenience. The data is obtained on every sampling unit in the selected clusters. Then there is a multi-stage sampling in which the population is scattered over huge area and a list of entire population cannot be made. So various groups are made within the groups. For example a country is chose as a group, then sample is chosen of women group then groups of women are made as per their religion, occupation, family etc. Then there is stratified sampling technique. The sample will be selected using stratified sampling technique in this study. The target population will be divided into subsets which are called strata. The subsets will be formed on the basis of cultures, backgrounds and socio-economic status of the population. Then using a simple random sampling, the sample will be chosen from each stratum. I plan to make ten strata of 60 people each and then 40 people will be chosen randomly from each stratum. That will make a sample of 400 for this study. It will be taken care that the strata are not overlapping each other because if it happens then, some people have higher chances of getting selected for the study. The group of a scientific experiment where the performance of experimental procedure happens is an experimental group. The control group is the one in which independent variable cannot impact the results. While all experiments have an experimental group, not all experiments require a control group. Controls are extremely useful where the experimental conditions are complex and difficult to isolate. Experiments that use control groups are called controlled experiments. The sample that will be selected will be included in the experimental group, and the people who already have high literacy will be identified and put in the control group. 

 


2.3 Measurements

 


The measurement will include things like current level of moral literacy among the sample which will be measured using a questionnaire. It will contain questions related to weight of moral reasons, the people are acting morally or not, what is the current level of moral literacy, their awareness about it etc. All the questions will focus on knowing that what is the current level of literacy and how much work needs to be done to improve that. Measurement is important for all future courses of action. The author will use a primary research in which a questionnaire will be administered to the sample.  The author will find the answers to some specific questions so he will use the questionnaire as his tool of conducting the research. 50 statements will be included in the questionnaire to know about the moral literacy possessed by the sample. Primary Source: Questionnaires will be used to gather information from people about their moral literacy level and secondary source: Some data will also be gathered from existing sources of information on this topic like journals, articles, books, and thesis or research work published by various researchers. Likert scale will be used in this study. It is a scale where respondents have to rate their responses on a scale of 1….5. For example 5 means Strongly Agree,   4 means Agree,   3means Neutral, etc. Then before measuring, it is necessary to find the reliability and validity of data (Eder, 1998). It is important to test the reliability and validity to know that whether the purpose of the questionnaire is served or not. Reliability is tested to ensure that if it is re-applied to the respondents again, then same results will be delivered, and validity means the study measures what was intended to measure.
MS Excel software will be used for making bar graphs and for applying functions like ‘sum’; ‘if’; ‘count if’ on the data. Factor analysis can be done on data using SPSS software to identify the factors that contribute most information in the data set. The aim of factor analysis is to express the data as a linear combination of a smaller number of factors (variables). Every factor in the output sheet gets listed as per the variation they explain in the data. SPSS can also be used for finding out ‘Karl Pearson correlation coefficient.' (Eder, 1998) This method is a statistical measure of covariance between the variables. Two variables have been considered in my research: dependent and independent variable. The correlation coefficient ranges from +1 to -1. +1 shows a perfect positive correlation between dependent and independent variable, whereas -1 shows a perfect negative correlation between the two variables. Whereas 0 indicates that there is no correlation between the two variables. Significant and insignificant relationships can also be flagged along with the correlations. Reliability of questionnaires is also tested in SPSS using Cronbach’s Alpha. Regression analysis can also do on the data to know the overall significance of the model. 

 


References:

 


Jarrar, A. (2013). Moral Values Education in Terms of Graduate University Students' Perspectives: A Jordanian Sample. International Education Studies, 6(2). http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/ies.v6n2p136
2. Methods: Data Collection Activities. (1980). Medical Care, 18(Supplement), 6-15. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00005650-198005001-00005
Eder, R. (1998). Welcome to Organizational Research Methods. Organizational Research Methods, 1(1), 5-5. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/109442819800100102
Jha, N. (2008). Research methodology. Chandigarh: Abhishek Publications.
Kumar, R. (2005). Research methodology. London: SAGE.
Reserch Items. (1933). Nature, 131(3305), 331-332. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/131331a0
Al-hajaya, N. (2012). Impact of the Systemic Approach on Literacy Achievement of Jordanian 1st Graders at Mu’tah University Model School. International Education Studies, 5(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/ies.v5n1p100

 
 

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