Success with your Education Research Project


John Sharp

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    For Isobel

    About this Book

    There are many books available which provide an introduction to educational research as well as how to carry out an individual research project but these have generally been written for existing teachers or those setting out to do full-time or part-time M-level degrees or doctorates. Surprisingly few introductory texts have ever been written specifically for those studying education for the first time or training to be a teacher. This book is therefore aimed at you if you are enrolled on any of the following.

    • An undergraduate or postgraduate course of Initial Teacher Training leading to the award of QTS (primary or secondary).
    • A degree in Education or Education Studies with or without QTS.
    • A degree in Early Years or Early Childhood Education.
    • A foundation degree in education or any education-related subject discipline.

    Undertaking some form of small-scale, individual research project is a normal requirement of most undergraduate or postgraduate education courses, one often firmly rooted in personal interest and professional experience. It may turn out to be classroom-based and attached to a placement (e.g. in a school, an outdoor centre, a museum or a gallery) or it may be part of something more traditional and library-based. But how do you get started? You might be lucky enough to get some formal research methods input. But even if you do, the likelihood is that it may not be as directly relevant to your own project as you would like it to be. You might be assigned a supervisor to help. But even if you are, the amount of time your supervisor has for this purpose might be limited to a few short tutorials. Whatever your own course provides, one thing is certain. You can never get enough support. This book is therefore intended to provide the practical framework around which your own individual research project can be tackled with confidence and completed successfully. Several features are included to help.

    • Clearly specified learning outcomes for each chapter.
    • Carefully selected and organised text written and presented in a straightforward, no-nonsense way.
    • Worked examples based upon ‘real’ projects and ‘real’ data illustrating and exemplifying different elements of the research process.
    • Practical and reflective tasks making full use of the research literature to help develop knowledge and understanding.
    • Key points reminding you of what to try and what to avoid.
    • Further reading for digging a little deeper.

    While there is undoubtedly a wide range of education courses available, with an equally wide range of individual research project requirements and expectations, the practical guidance offered here should be sufficient to draw you into the world of educational research wherever you are starting from. By using this book carefully, you will begin to acquire the necessary range of intellectual, practical and transferable skills to lead you towards producing work of the highest possible standard whether in the first, final or only year of study. As is the nature of educational research, of course, nothing which appears in this book is uncontested. The secret is to know when enough is enough and move on.

    In this second edition, the text has been revised, updated and extended in order to remain current and in response to reader comments.

    Further Reading

    If at any time you find the need to consult more widely or perhaps would like an alternative perspective, try these seven titles for starters. Bell (2010) is perhaps the most accessible. Cohen et al. (2011) has it all but might be hard work.

    Bell, J. (2010) Doing your research project: a guide for first-time researchers in education, health and social science. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

    Burton, N., Brundrett, M. and Jones, M. (2008) Doing your education research project. London: Sage.

    Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2011) Research methods in education. London: Routledge.

    Hopkins, D. (2008) A teacher's guide to classroom research. Buckingham: Open University Press.

    Opie, C. (ed) (2004) Doing educational research: a guide to first time researchers. London: Sage.

    Thomas, G. (2009) How to do your research project. London: Sage.

    Wilson, E. (2009) School-based research: a guide for education students. London: Sage.

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