As a student, who is pursuing academic endeavours at Nazarbayev University for postgraduate level, I am required to conduct an independent research and present it in the form of a thesis for the award of Master’s degree. In actual fact, the process of writing a full -length thesis is quite challenging when you have other responsibilities such as a job and family. Moreover, it is more challenging when you do not have experience in conducting research and lack the knowledge of the appropriate methodology required.. However, during the time devoted for writing the thesis and carrying out other responsibilities, I believe I gained much knowledge and many skills from online and face-to-face courses offered by instructors at Nazarbayev University. I also gained valuable practice from writing short and medium length papers.
Therefore, after writing one third of the high –scale research paper and completing several courses both online and face-to-face, I think it is timely to share my opinions about the phases where I struggledmost and the strategies I used to overcome these challenges. This will further inform my readers about the challenging stages of writing research papers and, hopefully, help improve their learning experiences.
The first phase in which I struggled most was choosing the methodology that is appropriate to the topic and address the questions of the study. It was quite challenging to make a decision on choosing a mixed methodology approach for my full-length study, although I had quite a broad experience in conducting a quantitative study I had less experience in conducting a qualitative study. According to Creswell (2012) “The core argument for a mixed methods design is that the combination of both forms of data provides a better understanding of a research problem than either quantitative or qualitative data by itself” (p.22). However, there arises another challenge after choosing a mixed method design: one has to justify the chosen methodologies. To overcome this challenge, I constantly made reference to studies, in which the mixed method design is both utilized and introduced with rationales by their authors. In order to thoroughly understand the instruments for qualitative data collection and the ways of analyzing the data, I once again used this technique.
The challenge that I will describe in this paragraph is quite prevalent among the people who study issues in the context of Kazakhstan. Since Kazakhstan is a relatively young country, which has carried out very little research on education, it is often quite challenging to find some scholarly sources on a range of topics related to the practice in Kazakhstan. Moreover, access to official documents such as educational policies and reports are usually impossible due to the non- transparent culture adopted by the educational institutions in Kazakhstan. Therefore, while searching scholarly articles about the educational issues in Kazakhstan, I referred to geographical location and historical background of the country and searched scholarly articles using phrases like “Central Asia”, “developing Asian countries”, “post- Soviet time” etc.
As for the recommendations for developing the learning experience of my peers, I believe that I have shared some valuable strategies for overcoming the challenges that can be encountered in writing their full-length research paper. Moreover, I think that they are now better informed about their own learning style and techniques that are most helpful for them.Therefore, the only other consideration that I would recommend is to value the precious time and make use of feedback gained from course instructors.
I am highly satisfied with the content, pace, methods used by my instructor to deliver the content and feedback received from her. In comparison with other online courses, I think that it is worth mentioning the variation of tasks designed by instructors of the course ‘English for Thesis Writing’. I believe that most students saw benefits and made use of blog creation tool “Wordpress” for both learning and teaching purposes. I also recommend reading the blogs written by other peers in group and developing more interactive approaches such as peer commentaries.. The only recommendation for improving the course ‘English for Thesis Writing’ is to rearrange the time for its delivery. I think that it will be more effective if the course “English for thesis writing” is combined with the course “Research Design”, to inform students both theoretically and methodologically. This will further give students a more constructive understanding of the criteria for a successful research paper.
Summing up thus far, I think that all challenges faced while performing assignments were aligned to practical steps that help us to unlock the world of research.
Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research, 4th ed. Boston: Pearson.