Research Methods and Statistics

Purpose

This course reviewed basic research methods and statistics learned in undergraduate study, with a focus on qualitative research designs (case studies) and quantitative research designs (true experiments and t-tests and ANOVA). The course assumed that students had some basic knowledge on research methods and statistics, but may not have had experience in practicing these techniques in an experiment. Therefore, as a class, we conducted a class project that followed a research circle, from generating a research question,to conducting a literature review, to forming testable hypotheses, designing experiments, collecting data, to analyzing and interpreting the data. In addition to the class project, students were also expected to design a study to test questions that were of interest to them. Toward the end of the semester, they were required to write a research proposal using the techniques they had learned throughout the semester.

Reflection

I taught this course in Fall 2014 and it definitely was a learning curve. I have known quantitative and qualitative methods as a student but application of these strategies to instruction is very different, especially when working with students where English is a Second Language. There are a number of meta-cognitive concepts such as epistemology and paradigms that influence these research methods and I find translating the utilization of these concepts difficult. I definitely was 'lost in translation' as I tried to explain the connections between persons for example with a functionalist paradigm, their ethics and how they approach research (conditions, selection of participants and interpretation of results).

Things progressively worsened as the semester progressed. Firstly, I was not prepared to teach this class because I overestimated how much my students knew and chose an unsuitable textbook. Some students did not have a basic knowledge of statistics so I had to revise my goals during the semester. I state 'my goals' because I did not consider how much time my students were spending on the material in the class. Secondly, I was teaching other classes and I may have inadvertently misplaced their work. So they were correct in their evaluations for the most part. Conclusively, I was not prepared for the number of foundational concepts I had to teach, and they were not prepared for the volume of work necessary to reach the high standard I had originally set. Furthermore, our frustration was compounded by no access to the statistical program. So many teachers encounter a class that goes terribly wrong - this was the class for me.

The high point of the class was the students' research papers. They were able to complete and present fully their research proposals by the end of the semester. My students and I appeared happy but I think all of us wished the class was better. I took photographs but my phone broke the next day after the presentations. Clearly, I have learned greatly from my students and this failed experience in teaching this course. 

Syllabus

This is my syllabus for the course. If you need a copy, please contact me.

Evaluations

Here is the link to the evaluations for this class for Fall 2014.