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Identifying the right approach – the 6 questions

21/08/2011

Think – Objectively or Subjectively?

The questions below have been brewing for sometime. Formulating questions take longer than answering them it seems!

I must admit I did get some help from the blogs of previous students, (I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t – There goes the ‘Blogger of the Week’ chance! Oh well 🙂 )

But seriously, if you’d like to find out how to identify the right approach for the following 6 questions, have a look at the blogs of Katalina and Yao.

If you want to be left wondering, then read mine 🙂 

The task requires me to think
  • about each question, and
  • about what kind of useful knowledge or evidence I could uncover about the question (ontology), and
  • what would be the best way of finding that knowledge or evidence (epistemology).
What methods are there?
Codes
S=Scientific SS= Social Scientific
N=Numbers (quantitative) W=Words (qualitative)
D=Deductive (theory testing) I=Inductive (theory building)

 

Which of these two laptops gives the best performance?

Evidence –  

  • Specifications of each laptop
  • Reviews written/published about each laptop
  • Actual performance of the laptops
The best way of finding the evidence – 
  • ask directly to the manufacturer, or read the manual (primary search) (should be objective but may not be)
  • read ‘unofficial’ reviews/blogs/forums (secondary search) (should be objective, but anonymity of the authors could prevent objectivity)
  • test each laptop in the shop/factory, record the performance statistics and make a comparison (primary search) (judgement could be impaired by personal preference)
Possible Method(s)

 

Are virtual worlds like Second Life useful for teaching?

(Well, of course! But I must remain objective on this subject :-)!)

Evidence –  

  • Student enrolment rate
  • Student participation rate
  • The pass rate (on formative and summative tasks)
  • Course completion rate
  • Course development, maintenance & delivery
The best way of finding the evidence – 
  • The official statistics from the enrolments office (primary search) (factual/objective)
  • Report from the tutor/facilitator (secondary search) (mostly subjective)
  • Report from the tutor/facilitator (primary search) (objective*)
  • The official statistics from the enrolments office (primary search) (factual/objective)
  • Feedback from tutor/facilitator on the development, maintenance and the delivery of the course (secondary search) (subjective)
  • Feedback from the learners on the participation & completion of the course (secondary search) (subjective)
Possible Method(s)
  • Action Research (SS, W, I)
  • Appreciative Inquiry (SS, W, I)
  • Exploratory Research (SS, W, I)
  • Case Study (SS, W, I)
  • Design Research (SS, W, I)
  • Field Work (SS, W, I)
  • Literature Search (SS, W, I)

 

Why don’t many school students (16-18 yr-olds) choose to study IT at Polytechnic or University?

Evidence – 

  • School students
  • Educators
  • Scholarly experts
  • The alternatives to studying IT at Polytechnic or University
The best way of finding the evidence – 
  • ask the students in appropriate age group (primary search) (can be both objective & subjective as the real reason may never be revealed)
  • ask the educators in respective institutions (secondary search) (subjective)
  • locate the statistics on enrolment rates for 16-18 year olds (primary search) (factual/objective but may not necessarily reveal the reason ‘Why’)
  • Publications from the Ministry of Education, Department of Statistics (secondary search) (objective)
  • Locate the other options that are available to this age group, and analyse the factors that may influence the decision (e.g. time, money, distance)

Possible Method(s)

 

  • Exploratory Research (SS, W, I)
  • Case Study (SS, W, I)
  • Field Work (SS, W, I)
  • Mass Observation (SS, W, I)
Which ISP in NZ gives the best value for money?

Evidence – 

  • a list of ISPs in NZ, the service they provide, for how much
  • a list of ISPs overseas, the service they provide, for how much

The best way of finding the evidence – 

  • locating the ISPs & asking them directly (primary search) (subjective)
  • reading reviews/forum posts (secondary) (can be both subjective and objective)

Possible Method(s)

  • Experimental Method (S, N, D)
  • Empirical Research (S, N, D)

How do I feel about trying to work with slow internet speeds?

Evidence – 

  • my feelings (extremely subjective)
  • other people’s feelings (definitely subjective)
  • accepted levels of feelings (still very subjective but sets the standard)
  • the standard of internet speed available
  • the standard of internet speed that I’m provided with

The best way of finding the evidence – 

  • personally working with slow internet speeds (once the ‘slow internet speed’ has been defined)
  • questioning others who are working with slow internet speeds
  • making a comparison among ISPs (see the reference above)

Possible Method(s)

  • Action Research (SS, W, I)
  • Appreciative Inquiry (SS, W, I)
  • Experimental Method (SS, W, I)
  • Exploratory Research (SS, W, I)
  • Case Study (SS, W, I)
  • Design Research (SS, W, I)

What are the main security issues associated with ‘cloud computing’

(Now this is an area I have no idea about anything – I don’t know what I don’t know, so how can I ask it?) 

Evidence – 

  • security issues associated with standard computing
  • definition of ‘cloud computing’

The best way of finding the evidence – 

  • make a comparison between standard and cloud computing
Possible Method(s)
Action Research (SS, W, I)
Exploratory Research (SS, W, I)
Case Study (S & SS, N, I)
Experimental Research (S, N, D&I)
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