All posts by Ainur Meirbekova

My perspectives on research

Any field needs research. Through research it is possible to reveal some facts, make innovations, add to what is known and solve existing problems. Research also helps to make progress in any sphere. Progress for better and peaceful life. Therefore, good quality research should be highly valued in our world. But does it refer to any kind of research? And is research valuable in all countries? In this post I would like to touch upon some issues around research in our country, and which are important for me.

As I mentioned, there are different purposes for research to serve for. For me, the most valuable research is the kind of research which aims to solve an existing problem. In other words, if the results of a research assist in solving some practical problems in reality or at least, contributes to the knowledge of how to find solution to the problem, that type of research would be interesting for me to read. For example, I would rather appreciate a research exploring reasons and motivations of teenagers to commit suicides, rather a research which explores the lifecycle of clown-fish. The results of the first research may greatly contribute to decrease of suicides among teenagers, whereas the second research just adds knowledge, in my opinion. Nevertheless, it does not mean, that the lifecycle of clown-fish is totally unnecessary information, maybe it is valuable among biologists, and I just do not understand the whole meaning of it.

In our country there is another picture on what is perceived as valuable research. People who have power to change something in our country mostly value quantitative research which is about statistics, numbers and concrete data. Maybe it is the influence of our past, when concrete sciences like maths or physics were more valuable, maybe it is peculiarity of our people’s mind to perceive more concrete data, I do not dare to judge. But anyway, it remains obvious that without qualitative research any data becomes superficial and not sufficient.

In conclusion, I would say that no matter what kind of research and what purposes it serve, it will be always valuable if it is a good quality research.

How I work on Literature review part

Literature review is a very important part of any research as it establishes the context of any research, connects it to the existing knowledge, and therefore shows the depth of a research paper. In this post, I would like to talk about my personal process of working on literature review part.

Let me start with reminding the topic of my thesis project which is “Examining inclusive education policies and infrastructure in schools of Astana”. The scope of my study will include mainstream schools as well as inclusive schools where I will investigate inclusive education policies, their nature, content and common patterns. Another goal of my research project would be to reveal how well schools in Astana are equipped to maintain inclusive education.

Overall, I feel confident about the content of my literature review, that is to say, what subtopics to include and how to organize them. Now, the draft of my literature review is on the stage of general editing process where I work on connecting ideas and sentences to make them more cohesive, and on improving an overall structure of the draft.

Following the targets of my research work, I considered to divide the literature review part into two major sections. First section touches upon the issues of inclusive policies, specifically, I talk about the importance of inclusive policies, how policy relates to practice and creating inclusive schools, and research done about inclusive school policies in other parts of the world. Second section is more brief, and includes the role of infrastructure and how effective inclusive schools look like in terms of physical resources.

The process of finding relevant resources might seem the most challenging when writing literature review. At least for me, it was difficult to find exactly what I needed when I finally reached the point when I was confident I would never find anything. However, it appeared to be so only in the beginning, and as the process went on, I could not stop from saving one more “useful” article. So, how did I manage to do that? Firstly, I changed usual searching systems to our library’s electronic resources. Secondly, I always start from broader topics. Considering my topic, I might start from searching just an “inclusive policy” or “inclusive infrastructure”. Thirdly, I narrowed my key words eliminating articles and prepositions. For example, instead of searching “the importance of inclusive school policies” it is better just to write “inclusive policies importance”. Finally, I tried to use various combinations of word phrases meaning the same thing. Sometimes new relevant articles appeared when I searched “role inclusive policy” instead of “importance inclusive policy” or “inclusion school building” instead of “inclusive school infrastructure”.

Next step after I had enough materials was to read, summarize, analyze, evaluate and synthesize all the sources to come to certain conclusions and make your own suggestions. Here, I usually create a simple table where I briefly write all the information about each article: name, author/s, date, aim of research paper, methodology, results in bullet points. This kind of summary of each article in a table is more convenient for me to structure my ideas, to analyze, look through the information and compare between sources rather than making a summary as a text.

To conclude, I would like to share few examples of research works which highly influenced my own research project. This is the work of Garrick Duhaney where he makes a deep analysis of the content of inclusive policies of 50 state educational agencies in the USA. Apart from this, the paper talks about a policy itself as a tool in changing a system, its importance and drawbacks. I also appreciate the work of Mcallister and Hadjri who highlighted the role of a school infrastructure when placing children with special educational needs into mainstream settings. I also liked that the authors indicated four-stage approach for an adequate evaluation of an environment for better inclusion.

References

Garrick Duhaney, L. M. (1999). A content analysis of state education agencies’ policies/position statements on inclusion. Remedial and Special Education20(6), 367-378.

McAllister, K., & Hadjri, K. (2013). Inclusion and the special educational needs (SEN) resource base in mainstream schools: physical factors to maximise effectiveness. Support for Learning28(2), 57-65.

 

 

The topic of my thesis

The topic of my thesis is “Examining inclusive education policies and infrastructure in schools of Astana”. Why have I chosen this topic? Who will benefit from it? What problem it is aimed to solve? Further I will try to answer all these questions.

It is known that successful implementation of inclusive education in any educational entity depends on different factors such as philosophy, policy, culture and knowledge, which, in other words can be described as a set of core principles of inclusion (Frankel, Gold, Ajodhia-Andrews, 2010). However, the primary and basic step in creating inclusive schools stays the development of inclusive school policies. The existence of such legislative mandate is very important since it highlights, firstly, the vision and mission of a school in terms of inclusion. Secondly, it provides specific guidelines for better promotion of inclusive education as well as sets rules for certain school operations (admissions process, assessment, etc.). Thirdly, it makes clear the roles and responsibilities of certain authorized people.

In 2007 Kazakhstan adopted the Law on Education where the notions of inclusive education were firstly mentioned. From that and now Kazakhstan signed many international inclusive education documents. Now, the aim of my research is to investigate whether there are any policies and regulations on inclusive education as well as any specific policies designed to protect the rights of specific category of students in schools of Astana.

I will try to make current statistics of how many mainstream and inclusive schools in Astana have inclusive education policies. Further, I will analyze the nature and the content of those documents, common patterns, what is included and what is not. It will help to understand organisation and structure of a school and identify areas of focus as well as gap areas in policies that should be further refined.

Another aim of my research is to find out to what extent schools in Astana are ready to accept students with special needs in terms of infrastructure because physical accessibility of a building is very important when maintaining inclusive education. I will explore the existence of ramps, elevators, assistive technology or other physical adjustments a school possesses.

Generally, I like doing research which will be further beneficial to solve a certain problem or improve the current situation.

Therefore, I hope that my research will be beneficial for educators, researchers, politicians or people who want to make change in inclusive education to build up knowledge and make proper conclusions and decisions for further development of inclusive education because it will present the real data and statistics about inclusive education in our country in terms of policy and infrastructure by measuring and evaluating the current condition. And according to Ainscow and Miles (2009), measuring of current state and outcomes of any educational policy is essential for further development and improvement.

References

Ainscow, M., & Miles, S. (2009). Developing inclusive education systems: How can we move policies forward. La educación inclusiva: de la exclusión a la plena participación de todo el alumnado, 167-170, p. 3

Frankel, E. B., Gold, S., & Ajodhia-Andrews, A. (2010). International preschool inclusion: Bridging the gap between vision and practices. Young Exceptional Children13(5), 2-16.