Research 101

Research.  Just hearing this one word often brings fear to many and groans to others. Many people view research as a very dry, boring, complicated topic with long articles full of technical jargon.  After reading the book, When Can You Trust The Experts, and going through the process of conducting a research study, I have some new ideas about the implications of research in education.

To begin our research journey my colleagues and I explored the different types of research studies.  As we discussed different types we thought about topics in education that interested us.  Our cohort broke up into research groups based on our interests.  My group spent days reflecting and redefining our research question.  We were all interested in school calendar schedules and the implications that year round school systems have on student learning.  The research articles we found were a mix of supporting year round schooling in a positive light, negative, and some said that school schedule did not make a difference in student learning.


Image Credit: Rachel Larner

Based on our limitations we chose to form our study around the question of, “Do teachers view year round schooling in a more positive light compared to a traditional school schedule?”  We developed a plan on how to gather data and came up with a Google Forms survey.  This made the most sense as we were in a foreign country with limited connection to educators.  We needed to hear back from participants very quickly as we had limited time to conduct the study.  The survey was quick and convenient for our participants to complete.  We sent this out to our professional learning networks via social media, emails, and text messages.  Through our analysis of the 54 responses, we had many takeaways on the perceptions of teachers on this topic.

Our participants provided us with a variety of feedback, some were contradictory, and some depicted a few overall themes.  70% of our participants reported that year round schooling is best for student learning.  As we reflected more on the results, we discovered some issues within our survey that may have affected our data.  The biggest issue was that our participants did not have an understanding of the definition of year round schooling.  Many thought that year round schooling meant no breaks.  If we were to conduct another research study surrounding this topic a definition of year round schooling we would include a definition of year round schooling at the beginning of our survey.


Photo Credit: Megan Dreffs

We reflected on more changes for the future as well as the pros and cons of our research method.  We then put everything together into a presentation that we shared with our colleagues.

I feel that I gained a lot from this research experience.  It was trying at times through the planning and development stages, but this project pushed me to be even more conscious of how assumption can cause problems in research.  It also opened my eyes to the complexity of research in education.  There is great diversity in where teachers work, what subjects they teach, what type of schools they teach in, and just their ideas and perceptions.  Humans are fascinating to study because each person is different, however that is what makes researching them so difficult.  There is no 100% answer to how everyone feels, thinks, or perceives.  Research is a beautiful, stressful, confusing, interesting part of our world.


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