All posts by oxanakirichok

About oxanakirichok

I like research in educational spheres

Tell me who your friends are and I will tell who you are

Two years before I met My friends at GSE! I made friends with my classmates, teachers and research procedure!

It seems surprising, but my classmates taught me most. First of all I found out much about myself communicating with very different, but very extraodinary people. I learnt how to communicate, how to work in group, how to take group decisions. Also, I learnt how to solve the problems together, I handled new approaches and tools. Before my study, it took me years to decide what and how to do something, as I wanted to do it well, but I didn’t know how. Now I am good in choosing the approach and immediate starting.

Teachers provided me an example on how good the teacher should be and how hardworking one should be. Also, how polite, gentle, and demanding to be at the same time.

I learnt how tj do research in systemic and honest way. I already got acquented with research, and it makes my friendship more difficult. I didn;t know about plagiarism and I couldn’t cite properly! Now I hope I am friend of Academic intergrity and very passionate fighter for establishing honest academic environment in Kazakhstan.

 

Why to read critically?

The active involvement of students themselves is very important as students learn from each other faster and more intensively. The more you read critically the more you know what to do. Post soviet students are not very good at critical thinking despite the fact that it is natural for person to read or study something critically. Post soviet people got used to listening and reading passively, it is easier for them not to digest the information deeply, just keep calm and listen. Then it is expected that the person will apply the criticism to his or her own paper. Gradually, the student looks at his or her paper from the outside position, look at the structure, logic, when everything should flow the reader to the main research question. It is difficult without training to get rid of the irrelevant to the research question information which you had been digging for many hours at the library. So, as a result you have to be critic to your own writing and the quality of the writing should increase. On the other hand, the papers are not ready at all and it might be surprisingly difficult to read illogical unready papers. 🙂

Writing a thesis: a wild goose chase!

The first aspect which reminds me chasing a wild goose is that everything is being done in a great hurry. The deadline is expiring and you are chasing trying to catch this goose’s tail (the deadline) at the last moment. The issue of quality is ranked to be number two in the best cases, in some worse cases it goes after good time, after good length, after APA, so number four!
The second issue is that the author like me is rushing in different directions simultaneously. In a real life conditions we are not choosing topic first, then making introduction, state research question, procedures etc., NO, we are doing everything at the same time, at the opposite order sometimes. I mean I first can make conclusion, then research question, then introduction. Believe me, I can! And this is not a breakthrough, the same happens with people, who find it more interesting to read a book from the end.
The same wild goose chasing for literature review part. The schemas and tables are left for theorists of thesis writing, real conditions provided us with different experience: read as quickly as possible, if you just smell the idea you need you are ready to make conclusion on what the author believes or what this author insists on etc. After your paraphrasing no one would be able to oppose it and let’s hope that the author, which you cite, would not read your thesis.
At the same time the thesis wild goose chasing deteriorates with other kinds of disturbance: endless problems at work and with family, friends and hobbies feel abandoned, so together they are greater force to leave you thesis for the last moment. Even best students in the priority list put family and work first, so theses the highest rated to be number three!
So, what to do with the situation? Just trying to do your best in the chase, as we are gifted and experienced, so we are able to do what hasn’t been done before!

One more experience on collecting data for research

According to Creswell (2014) data collection process is held in five steps, The first stage involves selection of the participants and the site, obtaining permission to conduct the research, gather the information in particular form, Transcripting the results following ethical issues.
To select the participants of the study, the group of students is asked one question “Do you like on-line Academic English (English for writing Thesis) course or not? Four participants for the interview will be selected applying maximal variation sampling. According to Creswell (2014), maximal variation sampling is used when to capture a wider range of perspectives of the topic, also, the maximal variation sampling seeks for the typical views of respondents whose thoughts are more extreme in nature (Creswell, 2014, p.163). Three students with extreme positive and three students with extreme negative answers are be invited to the interview.
To address the research questions of the present study the research is held at XXX University, Kazakhstan. Wide range of different regions representatives and substantial number of students, who have experience in online learning along with easy access to the them for the researcher contributed to the choice of the XXX University to be the research site for the study. The researcher will invite potential interviewees to participate in person for the interviews on the November, 1st. The day before, I contacted the participant to remind about the interview, agree on time and location. The interviews were conducted at a time, language, and location convenient for the participant.
I gave the consent form to the interviewee to sign prior to the interview then I asked permission of the interviewees for using the recorder. I was supposed to use interview protocol to write the most important information. Unfortunately, that was difficult, as the researcher was very much involved into semi-structured interview and sometimes could not cope with researcher’s prompt reaction. The weak part of me as data collector for the research that I am too involved into the problem discussed with interviewee that researcher’s position on the topic was observed by some respondents.

Interactive smart board drowned to the real life.

The fashion on decorating a classroom with smart board appeared approximately five years ago. In order to gain the shadow of technologically advanced education institution every university and school bought several smart boards. Also, the state program on informatization was targeted to supply smart board to every school.

The advantages to utilize the technology of smart board were obvious, when I was at Kaplan Language School in Berkeley. The connection to the Internet is good and teachers are well acquainted with all kinds of technology. Every lesson contained today’s information and today’s news. So, the students were discussing topics, which are hot and relevant. The teachers were writing at the boards, deleting parts of the words, along with special i-pack, which was providing interactive methods of presentation grammar and vocabulary. So, the students were very motivated and happy with the content of the lesson.

On the other hand, technology is not always used properly and turns out to be waste of money. The obstacles are observed every time. The first indicator of money waste is that smart board is just a screen for projector, the second indicator is that smart board without internet connection  this is just a piece of whiteboard, moreover, too much stress on technology sometimes provoke the situation where technology dominates the content. Also, learning outcomes of students with application of smart board and without smart boards were not compared scholarly to prove the effectiveness and contribution of smart board to learning outcomes.

It is important to follow the wisdom and apply the technology only reasonably. The technology itself does not provide and guarantee the learning outcomes. The technology stimulate motivation, and may interfere the result this way. But, still, do not forget that not learning is the process where very much depends on student.

To cite the word “a ball” or not to cite…This is the question.

The most challenging part of the article for Kazakhstani researchers is writing Literature Review, as language barrier, along with the different prospects and perception of APA style causes some difficulties for academics from post soviet countries.  The issue of plagiarism is also under great consideration and now some researchers are suffering from the previously unknown disease, which is “plagiarism fear”. There two directions flowing to opposite sides: the first is spread of literature review as a basis for authors’ ideas, second direction not to use, or limitedly use resources to avoid “plagiarism” or “greygiarism” issues.

This is fashion nowadays to cite very many sources to show how much evidence based your research is. On the other hand, quantity  of citations does not sometimes indicate quality of the research. Moreover, it is easy to transform authors’ ideas for your own advantage citing or quoting short pieces of somebody’s work regardless the general meaning. It also worth mentioning that some authors read only abstracts, and this is now good tool to understand the main results and methods.

The main challenge for me is sometimes too complicated structure, language or methods, described in the article. I think really good academic works are understandable for all, to the contrary, poor works to gain the shadow of professionalism tend to show what complicated research was done. I sometimes suspect that even the author does not understand the flow of his/her ideas. So, we should write professionally, but take into consideration that a piece of your writing is meant to be born to be read by otgher people and you do not  write for yourself.

One more issue is testing your paper through software to identify the percentage of “text originality”, which guarantees high percentage of plagiarism and doubtful conclusions. What I know I took from somebody. Shall I use quotation marks when writing the word “a ball”, giving the reference for my Mom? And even when I cite my Mom, it will appear that I was wrong and that was somebody else, who called a ball to be a ball.

So there are many challenges for researchers with Soviet background perception or previous postgraduate study, and I intended to present some of the funny ideas with this writing.

My story of dating with APA

The APA style is common way to organize your research for international community to accept your ideas. You will be recognized, heard and seen provided that you apply APA style.
The are two approaches to citing: soviet and international. There are still many researchers, who took after soviet style of citing, which is mostly look like reference list in the end of the article. The problem of this style is that it is difficult to indicate somebody’s ideas, difficult to recognize what is whose. The international styles, which is perfectly exampled by APA style, show in all details who, what exactly, where etc. done the research. It is impossible to plagiarize and apply somebody’s intellectual property without giving him respect and proper citation. Moreover, soviet style research is worthy with its novelty and originality and may contain few references, whereas international styles, including APA style, must be credible and be based on other research, and the more you cite structurally, the better.
One more important thing to be underlined is that international research is usually very narrow targeted and must contain abstract, introduction, objectives, methods, literature review, main results, conclusions and suggestions for further research. When I was completing PhD program in management, I took the topic which is now less than “Strategy of business education development in Kazakhstan”, which is too big to be solved by one researcher. As a result, that was incomplete and illogical research, full of improper citing.
So, taking into consideration that I already had some experience in publishing research, my teachers at NU had more problems with me, than with other students, who sometimes started from the scratch. Soviet style research tolerate some plagiarism, and those young researchers like me got stuck between, trying to cite, but improperly. In APA style it is very important to paraphrase the authors’ ideas if you do not apply quotation marks.
So, Kazakhstani researchers are on the right track now, but it will take time for everyone to get used to APA rules.

Online learning

According to Alexander (2004) mobile learning is a kind of disruptive innovation in the sphere of higher education and it follows all the stages and procedures of innovation dissemination. Moreover, the process of mobile learning intervention resembles “nomadic army arriving in an imperial city”, because the scale, mobile learning affects learning environment in the fields of the content of learning, teaching methods, campus life, is huge. The learning environment is influenced by its actors, “cell-phone-equipped urbanities” who forms new paradigm of learning. Teaching methods changed due to “augmented reality” due to the application of e.g. at the classes of archeology GPS-equipped Tablet PCs to perform archeological walk. Campus life changed, wireless labs shifted  the classical  libraries, and cheating policy can even indicate the process, where some schools develop policies to stop cheating by sms.

According to Sapargaliyev (2012) the formation of new paradigm did not leave Kazakhstani education behind. All levels of education has been applying the new modes of learning with the use of ICT. Sapargaliyev (2012) points out the clash between the objectives the western world apply ICT technologies for and Kazakhstani way of application. The western world introduced e-learning to increase the access to learning, whereas Kazakhstani State Program for Development od Education in Kazakhstan for 2011-2020 is aimed to increase quality through the proper application of IC Technologies.

The main strengths of online learning is that it inevitably provides wider access of learning for more significant layers of population. MOOCs, which are becoming more and more popular nowadays, provides solution of educational mission itself: to educate people at large and establish social coherence as a result.

The main drawbacks of this mode of learning is that online learning environment needs gargets and Internet access, so online learning depends on financial status and online learning does not exist for poor people as a result. So, it doesn’t significantly  contribute to solve the problem of education access.

References

Sapargaliyev, D. (2012). E-Learning in Kazakhstan: Stages of Formation and Prospects for Development. International Journal of Advanced Corporate Learning (iJAC)5(4), 42-45.

Alexander, B. (2004). Going nomadic: Mobile learning in higher education.Educause review39(5), 29-35.