Approaches to Educational Research

Table of Content

                        The articles I have chosen for this research are “Email Dialogue in Journaling: Attitudes and Impact on L2 Reading Ability” by Hui-fang Shnag published in the Educational Studies Vol 31, No. 2, June 2005, pp 197-212 and “The teachers role when pupils work on task using ICT in project work” by May Britt Postholm published in the Educational Studies Vol 48, No. 2, June 2006, pp 155-175. The authors are from I-Shou University, Taiwan and Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondhein, Norway respectively.

                        The articles are recent in nature as both were published in the last 18 months. I chose the articles for their attempt to see how computers are bringing about a change in teaching methodologies or rather how computers can be used and where and how they may be used in the process of formal education.

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Email Dialogue in Journaling: Attitudes and Impact on L2 Reading Ability” by Hui-fang Shnag

What is the purpose of the article?

                        This article tries to see the relationship between using Email Journaling and its effects students reading ability. The article wants to lay a guideline on how we can use Email Journaling to improve the experience of the students and enhance their learning.

Has this research been done before?

                        The author claims that this is the first attempt to see the effects of Email Journaling on the Reading ability of the students.

What is the relevance of this research, if any?

                        In context, the research has meaning but the major flaw I see is that there are many teachers around the world who are not familiar with computers themselves. There are many who do not like technology and do not want to use technology as a teaching methodology. The first thing about education is the fact that it is hugely dependent upon the instructor/teacher; and this is a major point that the author has missed. The instructor and his or her knowledge about computers and what they offer can go a long way in making the process better and Email Journaling an exciting experience for the students. This can change the outcome of the research. If a student enjoys doing a certain task, it is more likely that they will learn more out of it as they wont mind repeating themselves and taking a more keen interest in doing the task.

What is the process of research?

                        The author tied up with another teacher who has 40 students, 21 girls and 19 boys ranging from 18 to 50 years old. The median age is 32 years. The students were given 2 questionnaires, one before the Email Journaling experience and one after it. The questions asked their comfort level and how they felt they had done on the assignment.

Most of these students rated themselves between 40%-50% competent on English language and 75% of them had used email as a form of personal communication.

                        The author hasn’t chosen his subjects properly as half the people are not good in expressing themselves in English, this means that when they do the assignment on an Email they will have a fear of exposing their English skills to their peers. As the topic is to assess how people will improve reading ability, this is a real challenge for them. However, as any teacher would know different people learn differently and that is why is it important to know what kind of people should or should not have been exposed to a learning technique where they have to expose their weaknesses in front of their peers – honestly, most people don’t have the courage to do it. Perhaps the author should have used a psychometric test to assess who will and who wont be comfortable exposing their weaknesses in front of their peers.

                        The author did a literature review of other studies however; it seems that the author has not picked up enough statistical techniques to present a statistically valid or convincing study.

                        Another major flaw of the research is that it was only done in one class and that too once. The author had originally planned to do it thrice but after the first assignment of Email Journaling, the students started complaining that the assignment was too time consuming and they were having difficulties doing it. Moreover, there were many who were having issues with using computers and some even had problems getting access to computers as the computer labs were facing server issues. All this shows that the research was either not planned properly or the author missed out on potential pitfalls. Perhaps they should have given more time for the assignment or deferred the submission deadlines, either ways; there might have been better support from the students.

                        There is no proof that the same resulted can be expected elsewhere, in another location or another setting or with another teacher. The author doesn’t convince us that we can see similar better or worse results if the students were different. There are too many variables that have not been addressed here. I would say that at best, this research is incomplete.

Has the author proved anything, convincingly?

                        Due to the flawed research methodology, the author fails to convince me of the validity of his results.

Does it all make sense? Do the references have meaning?

                        Although the idea of the research was a good one, the author failed to take in the many variables that affect the L2 reading ability of a student. The references we see in the research are from the early nineties and a very few from the 2000’s; email as a communication has gotten extremely popular in the last 5 years and if he were to concentrate on the research in the last five years, there might have been a more profound paper. Also, we must consider the fact that technology has improved leaps and bounds in the last few years and that means there has been a lot of improvement in the way Email works. The opinions that might have been correct 10 years back do not hold today.

The teachers role when pupils work on task using ICT in project work” by May Britt Postholm

What is the purpose of the article?

                        The author is trying to find out what are the roles of the teachers in ICT based learning. With the advent of information technology, there have been a lot of theories about what will happen to teachers and the way people will learn. There are schools of thought that the teachers would be completely redundant and that computers will replace them vs. other schools of thought saying that the basic method of teaching and the role of the teacher will never change. Information technology can help teachers teach better, put forward new ways of thinking and doing things, but the basic method of having a teacher to coach you, give you feedback and facilitate your learning will never change.

Has this research been done before?

                        According to the author, this is a first attempt to understand this field of teaching.

What is the relevance of this research, if any?

                        The research is very relevant and answers questions that are very important to teachers. Right now, the younger generation of students is far ahead in terms of knowledge than an average teacher and that is why it is critical for teachers to know what they must do not only to improve their own knowledge but to bring in computers and other aids to teach children. Children need to learn computers, it is as important as learning mathematics was a few years back. It will be very hard for people to live their lives in the year 2020 or 2050 if they don’t understand computers or know how to use computers, so learning computers is essential and that means that gradually teaching methodologies will have to use computers so that the children will use them better but also because computers and the internet help make the education experience much richer. There is a lot of information on the internet that can be used by students and teachers alike it increase their knowledge and actually know the current status about what they are studying, barring history everything always keeps changing. Nowadays, more and more research that is being conducted is updating even the history and making it more precise and filing in the gaps of knowledge that existed before.

What is the process of research?

                        The process of research is much improved as compared to the last article. The author has kept in mind the basic principles to assess if the process is repeatable and if the process would hold true in different settings. The author did his research at 3 schools spanning around 40 students in each school. The research was done over a full course and that gave the author sufficient data for his research. The students were all from grade 8 or grade 10 and proper research methodology was followed. It could have been better; nonetheless the author followed simple procedures for scripting everything and gave his research sufficient time to be able to get valid results.

                        The author spent entire school courses on practical subjects that involved ICT, he used tape recorders, video cameras, scripting and other methods to gather his data and used his observation skills to see what the teacher was doing to influence and contribute to the class. As there are 12 teachers involved once can see how each teacher handles the situation differently. Different teachers were handling different task and the tasks across the schools were very different, thus giving the author an opportunity to observe what each teacher was doing differently and how students were responding to different situations.

                        During the study, the author used open-ended questions to seek responses from people the questionnaire gave the respondents scope and breadth to express themselves completely and a qualitative case study method was employed to get into the details of the process. The author also visited classrooms beforehand to make the students comfortable and do his initial research about the students. The author shows in his work and in his article that the research phase of his paper was well-thought out and planned. He spent a lot of time and effort into the process as is shown for his commitment to study the students over the course of a whole term that spanned as much as 55 sessions.

Has the author proved anything, convincingly?

                        The use of ICT and how it is being currently used shows us that there is a lot of scope for using computers to make the learning experience exciting, interesting and to improve communication between students. The workings of the students during the sessions and how they communicate with one another and how they are bale to help each other with their knowledge of computers and other things thereof shows that the use of computers fosters more communication amongst students.

Does it all make sense? Do the references have meaning?

                        Like the other article, the references being used here are old and rather some are even from history, 1960’s and all but overall the level of research that has gone into the paper shows with the work as the author has spent time going back into the history of computers were perceived as educational tools vs. the theory that they would wipe off the teachers and become the sole means of educating the children of the future. The article gives an interest insight into the future however; a lot is to be desired as there are no clear indications on what the teacher should do – which is what the article sought to do in the beginning! Although there is a lot of research and history being spoken here, the solution to the problem that the author wanted to solve is not there.

Similarities between the articles

                        The articles are written by people who want to know who and why computers can be used and how they will affect the way we teach in the future. The process of research is similar to the extent that they both did literature studies and went to the classrooms to familiarize themselves. In technical terms, they both spoke to the student and tried to get responses using questionnaires.

Differences between the articles

                        The articles both want to know how computers are affecting the way we teach, the article about Email Journaling tests how a technique works, while the article about the role of ICT needs to test the IT frame work per se before it can go on to comment on what the teachers need to do. The research process of the ICT paper tells us that is what thoroughly planned and well done while the research process of the Email Journaling paper tells us that the author did not plan the research properly and even though the research was a failure by standards, the author did not put the effort to conduct another research in a planned fashion to get better results, the research was disappointing in the process and the effort was completely lacking.

Strengths of the articles

                        The article about Email Journaling has no apparent strength as the research and the research methodology is very weak. The article about ICT has its strengths in the research methodology and its comprehensive data collection.

Weaknesses of the articles

                        The article about Email Journaling has no basis as the research is flawed. As far as the article about ICT is concerned, it must consider more schools from different areas and communities to make the research more acceptable. It must also test the research in environments where the children are not as computer literate as they are in Norway.

Overall Summary

                        The articles give an insight into what can be done in the next few years and what teachers and students need to do. It also tells us how the relationship of the teachers and students will become a bit more informal and how the role of the teacher will remain the way it is – to teach, coach, give feedback and more than anything else kept eh students motivated about their studies and subjects.

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Approaches to Educational Research. (2016, Jul 07). Retrieved from

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