My new experience in small-scale research …

Today online education is widely spread around the world. More and more universities suggest this approach to adult students. Graduate School of Education in Nazarbayev University is one of the bright cases in the context of Kazakhstan. Being an adult student in online learning environment I am interested in studying the perceptions of online learning by graduate students who are completing Master Program and working at the same time.

Due to the reason that it is small-scale research official consent form or ethics board approval was not necessary. The purpose of the study, how the data is going to be used and was clearly explained to my potential candidates.

I encountered some difficulties due to lack of research experience. The main challenges were defining the “right” number of   participants for my small-scale research study to get the full data. Consultation with one of our instructors helped me to define the suitable number for small-scale research.  Another one is how to make alignment of interview questions more effective, as repetitive questions took place.  The third one is that potential participants could refuse from being interviewed because of some reasons. The last one is that as a researcher you never know how the participants will react to some questions.

Choosing effective data collection tool for my small-scale research I based on the Cohen & Crabtree (2006), as the main purpose of this small-scale research was gathering reliable and comparable information, qualitative research has been considered an appropriate one and semi-structured interview was the most suitable one. The main strengths of  the data collection instrument I used was that this set of questions provided full picture of online education perceptions by adult students. Talking personally to each interviewee you can observe their emotions, tone of voice and their perception of online education.  The main weakness of semi-structured interview is creating questions and transcribing the interview is time consuming process, but it worth it.

In conclusion, semi-structured interview is a good way for getting comparable data, even though some questions could embarrass some participants. They were guaranteed about anonymity and confidentiality from the beginning of interview.

Reference

Cohen, D., & Crabtree, B. (2006). Semi-structured interviews. Qualitative Research Guidelines Project. Retrieved October 27, 2015, from http://www.qualres.org/HomeSemi-3629.html

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3 thoughts on “My new experience in small-scale research …

  1. Dear Almira,
    I faced the same difficulties as you described. As we are not fully ready for asking the questions about the specific topic, it seems a bit hard to adapt your questions and asking them in more comfortable way. Now I understand our journalists who studied to be a good speaker and be able to conduct interviews on different issues. Such kind of small scale research really helps to improve our ‘interview’ skills and how to direct the conversation to stated purpose of the study.
    I hope, Almira, that this step of your practice will contribute to more successful work on your thesis and its findings!

    Like

  2. Almira,

    Thanks for your honest and open discussion of the research process. Keep reflecting on how you can improve with each new project! Your thesis, in the end, will be perfect.

    Your writing is quite strong here, albeit a bit wordy. Take your opening three sentences for example:

    “Today online education is widely spread around the world. More and more universities suggest this approach to adult students. Graduate School of Education in Nazarbayev University is one of the bright cases in the context of Kazakhstan. Being an adult student in online learning environment I am interested… ” 48 words.

    This should be condensed into one sentence that helps the reader jump right into your topic without all the “throat-clearing”. Here’s my version:

    “As an online student at NUGSE, I have seen first-hand this learning environment which is increasingly used by adults in higher education. I am interested…” (30 words… 38% more direct!)

    Keep up the good work!

    5/5

    Like

  3. Hello,
    Your topic is realy interesting and cnnected with your learning. It would be beneficial to know opinion of your peers. Personally, I have learnt a lot about my topic during the interview.
    Good luck with your thesis writing.

    Like

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