The research questions of my mini-scale study offered me a great opportunity to understand the factors influencing the students’ engagement during online learning. However during the data collection process I have faced different obstacles and understand some peculiarities of the process.
The first challenge I faced with during the data collection process is number of participants. It was difficult for me to identify ‘the best’ number. On the one side, time schedule of online NUGSE students who are working are completely booked, and on the other side, I have to ask at least more than one student, in order to answer the research question and discuss findings. After consultation with the instructor I understand, that ‘ideal’ number from 2 to 5 students.
Another step that is vital in the process of data collection is design and content of the interview protocol. All questions should be aligned with research question and sub questions. And if interviewee during the question session will start to discuss something different, it is important to return him/her back to the track by asking a leading question. For this reason, I prepared set of probing and posing follow-up questions that will provide information about participants’ opinion about online students’ engagement.
The interview protocol allowed the communication to be more spontaneous, and by observing the reaction of interviewee, (like tone of voice, pauses and etc.) I could drive more deeply understanding of participant’s feelings. And of cause, this process requires more concentration from me.
Both mini-scale study and proposed thesis research projects have qualitative research approach and an interview protocol as instrument. It was intentionally made for several reasons. First reason is that by employing the same methodology I could probe and test on small scale and avoid the ‘big’ mistakes during the proposed thesis. Next reason is that during my Bachelor studies I used quantitative approach many times, our professors frequently asked us to conduct questionnaires and analyze the finding using software. Therefore I decided to understand the nature of qualitative approach this time and enjoy the conversation with participants of the study.
I could personally claim that conducting the interview and using the data collection instrument contain many unexpected advantages and disadvantages. The nature of qualitative approach let researcher to gather more information from one-to-one interviews. However it is important to be focused in order to answer the research questions.