Process: If at all possible, consider trying to collect data through other means.
For example: If you had interviews planned, could these now take place via skype / telephone or written questionnaire? Discuss this with your Tutor and then, in the Project, you would need to discuss the limitations of collecting your data in this way and the degree to which it is congruent (or not) with your methodology.
Are there videos of practice that relate to your topic available through reliable and valid sources such as the DFE or professional organisations? If so, you could use these as examples of practice, which you could discuss. Obviously you would make it clear what the source of the examples is.
Structure: The overall structure of the Project remains the same. Where there are changes, these are highlighted in the text.
N.B. The word limits for each section given below have been revised and are for guidance and may vary between projects.
Also, although the overall word limit has been reduced in consideration of the impact on your data collection, this does not mean just cutting out a section. You need to show that you can discuss, analyse, critique and reflect on all aspects of the Project. The quality of your discussions is still key to your success.
A title and contents page
An abstract of no more than 250 words
This will be written last of all and willsummarise your project, what you did, how you did it, what you found and what your conclusions are. Look at some of the abstracts at the beginning of journal articles to give you an idea of what this will look like.
Introduction / Rationale: Approx. 800 words
The introduction to the study outlines its main aims and the issues addressed. It should clearly state your reasons for undertaking the study. Your research question needs to be clearly stated, as should the aims of your study. It will include the background and context of your project and briefly convey how you went about it.
You will need to include a paragraph that explains the wider social situation in which the research took place and the impact on the project: This should be succinct as you will go into more detail in subsequent sections.
A review of literature: Approx. 2,500- 3,000 words
The purpose of this section of the project is to highlight current key issues in your area of interest.
This section should include:
A critical review of relevant literature organised into relevant strands. For example in considering a question about boys and block play there may be a section of your literature review about blocks, another about gender, and depending on your specific question sections on curriculum or mathematics or adult interaction. And in a project about boys’ attitudes to writing, the sections included theories about the development of writing, views on dispositions for learning and a third section on class and group sizes.Evidence of analysis of the relevant literature. Avoid description – make sure that the reader can understand why you have included any particular text.Evaluation and criticism of the research or views included in the literature review. Perhaps the study only included a very small sample or only included girls? Was the sample skewed in some way? In voicing an opinion has the author ignored some important evidence?A clear conclusion, summarising your understanding of the main issues related to your chosen topic which arise from the literature.
Your success in this project depends to a great extent on finding relevant books and articles. A range of sources may be used. You should evaluate the usefulness of your sources – not everything written has the same value!
If you have very limited data and think your findings chapter will be limited, you might expand the literature review to discuss in more detail aspects of practice relating to your study as suggested by key writers.
Methodology section – approx. 2,500-3,000 words
In this section you firstly define your research approach in a general research context. Students will be taking an interpretivist perspective and a qualitative approach using Action Research.
You will all need to expand this section to discuss issues of reliability and validity in relation to your data collection specifically as well as the theoretical ideas in this regard.
Data collection methods
When you come to write up this section you should:
Discuss the methods you have used or planned to use identifying their relevance to an Action Research approach and the advantages and limitations of the methods you used. This should include a detailed discussion of the TYPE of observation / interview etc. you used and WHY.Discuss how you devised any observation schedules or other instruments such as interview schedules. Examples of these should be included in the appendix. Even if you didn’t get to use them, you can discuss what, why and how you intended to use them.Give details of any changes that you made because of problems. What did you do in order to gain additional data if things went wrong? This is an opportunity for a lot of discussion on what you changed or were /were not able to do in relation to your data collection methods and the impact on the reliability and validity of your research
Issues to consider
Reliability – the extent to which a different researcher or the same approach used on a day would produce different results (consistent)Validity – do the instruments you have selected or devised tell you what you claim they tell you? You might ask colleagues whether they think the methods you have chosen are likely to give you an accurate picture.Triangulation – using more than one method of collecting data in order to check findings –N.B. If you only have one source of data, such as observations, you need to discuss how triangulating your methods was not possible and discuss here (and in your findings) how that impacts on issues of validity and bias.Observer effect – is the very fact that subjects are being observed affecting what is seen?Interviewer effect – differences in age, gender, ethnicity, status or appearance can affect results. You need to think about how you can best fit in with those being interviewed but will also need to consider whether that in itself will show bias.Participant observation – an important feature of most action research but you need to be aware of the dangers (and advantages).
Thinking about ethics
This section may also be expanded to discuss the ethical issues caused by the interruption to your research; the late submission of consent letters for example.
If you have very little data, you will need to make your ethical considerations even more explicit in this section because you won’t be able to discuss the practical application of your ethical stance (such as using ‘ethical radar’ for example) in the findings chapter in the same depth as you might have done.
Reflect on and discuss how the wider context has impacted on any of the following:
Are the aims and methods of the research fair and right? (Question of justice)Would you wish to be treated in the way you … are intending to treat others? (Respect for autonomy)Might the research prove harmful or useless?
(Aubrey et al 2000)
The questions above might also be considered in the light of the following challenges:
Why and how have you selected the children in your study? Can you justify leaving out the children that have not been included in your study?How have you involved the adults in the context you are studying?How does your perspective compare with that of the adults involved? If you and they think that different aspects are important how can this be justified?Will the children have any say in what you are planning?Will adults and children get feedback?
In preparing your project, you must ensure that:
You have the informed consent of adults and childrenYou have the written consent of parents to include their child in your projectChildren’s identity is hiddenThe names of institutions and individuals are changed so that they are not identifiable.
Main Findings – approx. 1,000-2,500 words
If you have very limited data or no data at all, you would suggest in this section what you MIGHT expect to find. You would base these suggestions on ideas arising from reliable and valid sources that discuss practice that relates to YOUR topic and question.
This may include both written and video material that are valid and from reliable sources. You might use these as examples of practice that illustrate your discussions.
You would need to make it VERY clear that these illustrations come from other sources NOT your collected data
If you have little or less data than you intended, you need to discuss the limitations of the data you have and therefore of the interpretations being made at some length, setting out how your findings are limited and biased by the amount of data but discussing what they seem to be indicating and the conclusion you might infer from them according to theory and practice reading. You might still be able to identify a pattern or themes in the data but would need to be clear about the limitations or bias within these.
If you have sufficient data, you will be able to write with more certainty about what you have found and the conclusions you are coming to. BUT you STILL need to discuss limitations and bias etc.
Whether you data is reliable and valid or not will depend on its QUALITY not just how much you have.
For advice on whether you data is sufficient in quality and quantity, you MUST share what you have collected with your Tutor, who will advise you accordingly.
In this section you:
Explain the limitations of the data you have and therefore of the interpretation being made. Analyse the data using relevant theory, giving detailed comments and showing that you are attempting to interpret rather than simply describe it. Use the data to illustrate your points and to make comparisonsDiscuss the relationship between these findings and other work in the area as discussed in your literature review (both where there seems to be agreement and where there is not). Draw together your conclusions from your reading and from your practical research. Conclude the section by considering the implications of your analysis of the data, referring back to your aims.
Conclusion approx. 800 words
This will include:
Reflection on the impact of the wider situation on the research process, your learning as a researcher and practitioner, and the outcomes of your research project, i.e. having less dataa discussion of alternative strategies that could have been adopted and/or implications for further workComments on how the project has furthered your professional development. a reprise of what the study was abouta summary of your findingsa brief discussion on the extent to which the findings matched your expectationsan indication of the ways in which the study was helpful and suggestions of ways in which practice could be changed and improved with reference to the findings.
All of the conclusion will be framed in the context of the wider social situation and its impact on the process of your research, the outcomes and findings of your research and on your experience as a researcher and a learner.
Only include texts/ sources that you have actually referred to.
Referencing should conform to procedures given.
Appendices may include:
examples of research instrumentsObservations or samples of children’s work to which you refer in detail.
Do not add material simply to make the project look good – it doesn’t help – so please include relevant material only.
As a rule of thumb (although the words in appendices do not count as part of the project word limit) the appendices should not be more than about 2,000 words.
Writing up your project
You will need to be very disciplined. The required length of the project is 6,000 to 10,000 words and this is a lot of words to juggle! It is a good idea to draft the sections related to the review of literature and the methodology early on so that as you gather data you can focus on your analysis and the discussion of your finding.
Your project must be:
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