Data collection for my small-scale research project

Apparently, one of the greatest things about a number of online courses offered by the Graduate School of Education is that full-time working students have now received an opportunity to learn anywhere and to access education even from their workplaces. However, every coin has two sides, and it turns out that full-time employed students have difficulties with online leaning due to the factors other than the language constraints (most of the courses are taught in English).

My small-scale research project aims at exploring challenges full-time working students of Graduate School of Education face with online English learning. Qualitative approach has been selected to answer the research question and develop better understanding of the central phenomenon. One-to-one semi structured interview was used as an instrument to collect the data. Each interview lasted for about 20 minutes and was audio-recorded (participants were preliminary informed about the procedure).

The obvious strength of this instrument is that it helps to investigate the depth of the problem and to use personal experiences of respondents to answer the research question. Besides, if an interviewee was sharing something directly related to the research question of my study, I could ask a follow-up question to find out more about that. Thus, when the responses of participants had been analysed, I answered the research question and found some unexpected details that might have been beneficial for the study. The weakness is that interview is a time-consuming data collection instrument and the findings of my study cannot be generalized to all GSE students due to a small sample size. To address this limitation, I selected participants employed by various organizations to check if their responses would demonstrate challenges specific for employees of different businesses. I was also thankful to my group mates who showed their willingness to take part in this small-scale research despite their busy schedule.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for me was to design proper interview questions, as I kept in mind that the research findings would entirely depend on the questions I asked. I put much effort into designing questions for the interview that would be aligned with the research question. It has been a great experience of being an interviewer that I believe will be of great help when collecting data for my thesis.

Unfortunately, this small-scale research project is not related to my actual thesis. However, I would be interested in investigating the topic of online education in Kazakhstan and issues associated with it. Furthermore, since there is a lack of studies on online education in our country, it would be a great thesis topic for GSE students.


3 thoughts on “Data collection for my small-scale research project

  1. Marina,

    This is nicely written. Research always has limitations and turns up unexpected information as you discovered. You clearly presented your research steps and the challenges of conducting research with interviews. Your organization and grammar are very good.

    5 out of 5


  2. Hi Marina,

    The research topic is very interesting for me as I am a full-time working student. I also will be interested in the results of your mini research.
    I also had challenges with constructing proper interview questions. But as my Adviser suggested, the literature written on my research topic was helpful in designing research methods, especially interview questions. Also after a piloting interview I could find some irrelevant and repetitive questions which were removed from the interview protocol before final interviews.

    Good luck with your Thesis!


  3. Dear Marina,
    Thank you for raising such actual issue of online learning in NUGSE among master students, who complete their thesis and overloaded with paper work at their jobs. It is something new in our higher education system.
    What about the number of participants in your small scale research?
    What was the proportion of participants from diverse organizations, considering the fact, that majority of 2 year Master program students from NIS schools?
    What are the ways to minimize time consumption in conducting interview in your opinion?


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