In continuation with our last piece which was an introduction to Educational Research, this piece provides more information on the nuances of educational research, approaches to educational research, and the peculiarities of educational research.
Educational research sets itself apart from other forms of research mostly due to the people it caters for. In most higher education institutions in the world, various researches are required of students throughout their degrees and as a prerequisite to the grant of a first degree. Post-graduate studies are mostly research-based as there is an unending need to understand ideas, concepts, situations and to provide solutions to problems.
In addition to improving the education sector at all levels, educational research is a foundation for other forms of research as it provides a channel through which researchers are groomed to work in other areas of research.
Showkat Rashid Wani shares some of the characteristics of educational research,
1. Educational research is directed towards the solution of a problem in the field of education. It may attempt to answer a question or to determine the relation between two or more variables.
2. It emphasizes the development of generalizations, principles or theories that will be helpful in predicting future occurrences.
3. Educational research usually goes beyond the specific objects, groups or situations investigated and infers characteristics of a target population from the sample observed.
4. Educational research involves getting new data from primary or first hand sources or using existing data for a new purpose.
5. Educational research accepts only what can be verified by observation. Certain interesting questions do not tend themselves to research procedures.
6. Although research activity may at times be somewhat random and unsystematic, it is more often characterized by carefully designed procedures, always applying rigorous analysis. Although trial and error are often involved, research is rarely a blind, shotgun investigation trying something to see what happens.
7. Research strives to be objective and logical, applying every possible test to validate the procedures employed, the data collected and the conclusions reached. The researcher attempts to eliminate personal bias.
8. Research requires expertise. The researcher knows what is already known about the problem and how others have investigated.
9. Educational research involves the quest for answers to unsolved problems. Pushing back the frontiers of ignorance is its goal and originality is frequently the quality of a good research project.
10. Educational research is based on insight and imagination. It needs the service of man who looks beyond the present.
11. Educational research requires an interdisciplinary approach. It is related to the study of complex relations about facts.
12. Educational research is not as exact a research as physical science. In the latter we can control the events but in educational research it is not possible.
13. Educational research has a great field. Educational psychology, educational philosophy, methodology, class organization and management, child development and other subjects are the fields of research in education.
Approaches to Educational Research
The purposes of research in the education sector determine the approach to be taken while conducting the research. The major approaches to educational research are basic and applied approaches.
The basic approach is also referred to as the academic research approach and it focuses on the development of educational theory. Research following this approach are mostly carried out by students who are conducting research as part of their academic work. These research works are mostly descriptive and explanatory as the purpose is for the advancement of knowledge.
Researchers using the applied approach, which is also referred to as the contract research approach are different as they do more of the exploratory form of research. They are result-oriented and strive to find solutions to educational problems by gathering and analysing information that will directly impact the education sector. This approach is taken by researchers sponsored by an agency with a vested interest in the results of the research such as higher education institutions, government agencies, intergovernmental organisations and so on.
One prominent distinction between basic and applied approaches to educational research is that the former is more focused on a single discipline while the latter tends to be interdisciplinary.
Peculiarities of Educational Research
Research is general and interwoven so much that there is little distinction between the various forms of research. However, educational research, especially, academic research, places a lot more emphasis on methodology as it needs to be validated scientifically. The other arm of education research, applied research, is more concerned with using the information gathered to inform, instruct, stimulate and encourage actions from the target audience.
As educational research places a heavy emphasis on the scientific method of research, it follows the universal scientific steps of identifying a research problem; formulating the hypothesis; methodology; collecting data; analysing and interpreting data; and reporting the result.
Research in the education sector, both academic and professional are geared towards a single goal; to facilitate a continuous development in the state of education by improving teaching, learning and schooling.
Written by Aisha Yusuf
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