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