The fall session has been very informative and educational in terms of provided knowledge and acquired skills on data collection. Also, I had a good opportunity to test my originating research skills and have interview practice at NUGSE. All this work and practice helped me to revise the content of my mini-thesis and direct it in more meaningful way. In fact, this session became a critical point in identifying the purpose of my mini-thesis including the research design and methods for its data collection and data analysis.
Originally, my research project was oriented to examine the effect of online courses using blog posts on students’ performance at NUGSE. However, after going more deeply into the relevant literature and further discussions with the supervisors I realized that it would be difficult to determine the correlation between these two variables. So, I decided to look at my primary work from another qualitative angle and explore graduate students’ attitudes towards compulsory blog writing at NUGSE.
To address the research questions of my current mini-thesis I have decided to use the one-on-one semi-structured interviews for collecting the data. According to Braun and Clarke (2013) interviews “are best suited to exploring understandings, perceptions and constructions of things that participants have some kind of personal stake in” (p. 81). That was exactly what I was focused on: to obtain in-depth personal data from students in terms of their experience and perspectives on weekly blog writing by asking them open-ended questions. I was agreeably surprised that I could already practice those data collection instruments in the field at NUGSE. It was a sort of my first research experience and I was excited about it although I did not totally understand the purpose of that task in the beginning. I found this experience of practical learning effective and helpful as it gave me an opportunity to act as a real researcher, on the one hand, and contribute to my knowledge, on the other hand.
Following the recommendation of Creswell (2014) the data collection was conducted with “the use of standard procedures and ethical practices” (p. 187). The basic principle of selecting participants was their agreement, availability and willingness to be involved in the study. Research volunteers were fully informed of the nature and objective of the study. I also reminded the participants of the anonymity and confidentiality of information received during the one-on-one interviews. Then I asked for participants’ permission to audiotape the interviews and none of them minded in this regard. After the interview finished I thanked the participant, assuring him/her of the confidentiality of the responses.
Referring to my real research project, actually, I was thinking to change its topic and continue working in the concept of online learning tools, specifically, blog writing and their impact on students’ academic writing skills. However, I realized that I was not an expert in this field and not a real online user, so that I made a decision to keep working in my primary direction related to languages.
Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2013). Successful qualitative research. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Creswell, J. (2014). Educational research: Planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Boston: Pearson.