20% of your whole mark for the paper comes from this essay question and it is a tricky one! This question requires you to APPLY your knowledge of research methods to a particular issue in education, this year’s examiners report from AQA states that still, many students are failing to apply the strengths and limitations of the given method to the particular issue presented in the item and that many responses are simply ‘methods essays.’
When answering this question there are 3 aspects to consider:read more...»
For those wanting a more humorous way into discussing the weaknesses of interviews as a method of research, this letter by Mark Twain might prove useful.
A simple evaluation template for research methods.
A great online exercise for evaluating questionnaires.
While colleague Mark Gillard is delayed reflecting on the merits of kippers, let me entertain you will some thoughts about opinion polls. Coming to the end of a general election campaign when, as usual, we have been regaled with the views of numerous experts and pundits, its worth pausing to reflect on how much we can trust the opinion polls. Accurately done, polls can be very useful tools. But the trouble is, it is hard to do them well - one of my pet points - students always think research is easy - just dash out a questionnaire or cobble a few interviews together. Wrong. And here is C4’s Gary Gibbon, explaining why the polls may not be quite as valid (technical sense) as some claim.read more...»
The last sections of our material on methods. The sections on positivism and interpretivism can be used to help you tackle the question of whether sociology is a science. It’s not a complete answer, but it does a lot of the work needed to get you there.
After that you will see a section on three vital concepts. If you know these well you can use them on a variety of questions - although that isn’t an invitation to keep repeating material. I don’t mean ‘know’, I mean ‘understand’. An understanding of validity, reliability, and representativeness can be applied to questions throughout the exam paper.
More methodology revision materials today. The stuff on observation PO and Non PO I confess has been posted before, but anyway, this might be easier to find. Also tacked on to it is some stuff about Official Statistics and a brief mention of Case Studies.
Tomorrow - some stuff you can use on the hardy perennial, is sociology a science.read more...»
More of our revision materials for methodology. Sorry it’s appearing in rather random order. I will see if we can get a whole handout posted up somewhere.
Today - the basics and sampling.read more...»
Interviews are generally considered as more of an interpretivist method, although sociologists taking a more positivistic and quantitative approach do also use them. The more positivist inclined sociologist would be likely though to favour a structured interview, where all interviewees were asked the same questions, in the same order, thus making it more reliable and easier to record and analyse the results.
Sociologists taking a more interpretivist approach would be likely to rely more on the unstructured interview or a partly-structured interview. These two forms of interview simply mean that there are few or no fixed questions which have to be asked or asked to all interviewees. This might mean for example, that a researcher interviewing drug users, would ask questions on broad themes, e.g. ‘tell me how you got involved with drugs’, and this could lead to all sorts of supplementary questions. Indeed, the supplementary questions might vary between different respondents.
There are two main types of questionnaire – fixed response and open-ended. Fixed response questionnaires ask a series of questions, but only permit the respondent to answer in a certain way – by for example providing several answers, e.g. a), b) or c). These are called ‘coded answers’. Open-ended questions leave a small amount of space and allow the respondent to fill it in as they please. With the last type of questionnaire, it is harder for the researcher to categorize, or code, all the answers.
Questionnaires of both types have various advantages and disadvantages:read more...»