Things I’ve learned about research in education

Hello! After a short hiatus from my research, I’m back and trying to finish up some interviews before analyzing my data! Since I’m more than halfway through my project I thought I’d do some reflection on what I’ve learned so far about research in education. My background is in science and I’ve completed numerous research projects before, but I knew research in education would be different. In science, I was used to a very structured approach. There are similarities in education research, but there’s a lot more flexibility and openness when dealing with a qualitative data. Here are some things I’ve learned!

Research

 

Persistence is key.

As I knew from my science projects, research comes with a lot of challenges and problem solving. I’ve had to contact teachers a few times (which I do feel bad about), but know is necessary. As well, in figuring out technology (specifically in gaining access to adobe connect) there was a lot of people I had to ask before finding the right answer.

Everything takes longer than you think!

In my original plan, I was hoping to finish interviews within the first month – however, I only had a couple done after a month. It takes a lot longer to schedule interviews than I thought – mainly because people are super busy.

Ethics approval also takes a long time.

Thankfully, my wonderful supervisor was able to set me up under a project that already had ethics approval – so I was able to start really quickly on contacting teachers and interviewing them. However, my friends who are also doing research this summer had to start their ethics in May and they were trying to work with youth. It can take 12 weeks to get approval for a newly started project – which is most of the summer. Therefore it’s important to start early!    

People are willing to help.

My biggest concern for this project was not getting any participants. However, many people have been very open and willing to participate (thanks so much everyone!). As well I’ve received lots of help from my supervisor and other faculty members in figuring out technology (for recording interviews) and other logistics of my project.

It can be pretty fun!

So far, this project has been a lot less stressful than my science projects! Maybe it’s the nature of my project, but it’s been interesting to hear about the different experiences and perspectives of all the teacher’s who’ve taught abroad. It’s also helping prepare me for my TAB experience and is making me very exciting to teach abroad again. Even reading the literature is interesting as a lot of the articles aren’t too strewn with academic lingo.

Once I start analyzing my data I’m sure I’ll learn much more about working with qualitative data!

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