Our Research Methods course instructors taught us that a literature review is the intention of a researcher to show his readers that he has investigated the topic under the research by reading the main published work regarding the question he is willing to investigate. Furthermore, it will provide the framework for your future work. It is of a great importance that you do not simply describe what other scholars published, but you develop a critical discussion in order to show the insight and awareness of differing arguments, points of view, different theories and approaches.
The main challenge that I faced was the fact that I changed the topic of my research. My new topic is “Teachers’ experiences and perceptions of Universal Design for Learning in one NIS school in Kazakhstan”. As a result, I had to search for a different topic in order to investigate about the issue more. Furthermore, it was difficult to find relevant sources that would suit the idea you wanted to develop.
Based on the body of literature that I found and their relevance to my research and the main research questions, I divided the literature review section into subsections. The first and the most general subsection, which explains the UDL as a big concept is ‘UDL as a framework section’. The other one is ‘Teachers’ understanding of UDL’ which is of a great importance as the research is aimed to explore teachers’ perception of it. The next two subsections are ‘Teachers’ practices of UDL’ and ‘Challenges of UDL’, which will help to identify teachers’ practices, and challenges they face when using the main UDL principles. The organization of my literature review part in such a way helped me to reveal my research sub questions and guided my interview questions.
Throughout the literature review part, I used two sources very often. They are “The three block model of Universal Design for learning (UDL): Engaging students in Inclusive Education” by Jennifer Katz and “Implementing a UDL framework: A study of current personnel preparation practices’ by Scott et al. Both papers contain important and necessary information for my research paper. As it can be seen from the titles of these papers, the first one helped to describe the UDL as a concept while the second one reveals teachers’ practices and their preparedness to implement this approach.
Overall, I found the writing process very challenging. It requires not only hard work but also the skills of analysing, synthesising, summarising and sorting out the necessary and unnecessary information.
Conducting educational research is explained and followed by choosing one of the two existing tracks of writing any research: quantitative research, qualitative research or mixed methods. The qualitative research is largely based on collecting numeric data from a large number of people with research questions and hypothesis that are precise, narrow, measurable and observable (Creswell, 2014). As for the quantitative research, it is commonly characterized by detailed understanding of the central phenomena, collecting data from a small number of people to get their opinions and points of view and analyzing the data using text analysis (Creswell, 2014).
One cannot confidently say that one of this existing types of research is the most valuable and significant. It is necessary to say that researchers choose the type of research depending on the issue they want to explore and research questions they intend to answer. I remember one of the professors who taught Research Methods last year saying “once the instrument for qualitative type of research is ready, it is really easy to conduct this type of research”. However, as I have mentioned above, it all depends on the nature of a research.
Taking into account the nature of my research topic, which mostly demands people’s attitudes, opinins and experiences the current research will use qualitative research type. As the research deals with a particular school setting and requires participant perceptions and experiences, the case study research design is found relevant to get in-depth analysis of phenomena (Zaynal, 2007). I was interested to know if teachers in my school setting know about Universal Design for Learning. Moreover, I wanted to explore if they use multiple means of representation, expression and engagement in their teaching practice. Hence, I choose the qualitative type of research in this study. As my supervisor says “your research is your story”, so I want my story to be beneficial for the community where I work and make learning and teaching processes successful for both learners and teachers.
Creswell, J. W. (2014). Educational research: Planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Zainal, Z. (2017). Case study as a research method. Jurnal Kemanusiaan, 5(1), 1-6.
Before the course “Theories of Inclusive Education” I was confident that my research would be connected with exploring attitudes and perceptions of secondary school teachers in Karaganda about inclusive education. Since inclusive education is a new concept in Kazakhstan I wanted to know teachers’ opinions and perceptions of it.
I made up my mind when I first heard the notion of “Universal Design of Learning” and multiple means of access, representation, engagement, expression and equity. All these notions mean that each and every learner should or must have access to all educational resources. They also should be provided with audio-visual materials that fit best to their abilities and skills and be engaged into the learning process regardless their abilities or disabilities. I was really interested with the notion of multiple means of expression since it was really close to what I usually do with my students. Usually, I give them an opportunity to express or show their knowledge in different ways that they are comfortable with. Some students prepare ppt slides, some of them write essays or do some research which make the learning process even more interesting and productive for my learners. So, it was really interesting for me to know if students are provided with multiple means of access, representation, engagement, expression and equity. So, I chose How Universal Design of learning is applied in one school in Karaganda as my thesis topic. The outcomes of the research will be beneficial both for teachers and learners as teachers will add to their knowledge about UDL and its basic principles and learners will be provided with tools and resources that will fit their personality, skills and abilities. In general I hope to bring a new concept to my working environment.
Finally, it is important to mention that forming a conceptual framework is necessary in writing a research. This will give me an opportunity to know more about UDL and to apply that knowledge for my research. This research will contribute to change some traditional ways of teaching that teachers believe fit to all learners.