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Types of Research

Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Volume 40 , Issue 4 July Pages Related Information. Close Figure Viewer. Browse All Figures Return to Figure. Previous Figure Next Figure. Lead Author s : Charles Kivunja. Student Price: Contact us to learn more. We humans, are by nature curious about ourselves, and about our environments, and are forever seeking to understand the nature of the different phenomena that constitute our contexts.

The foundational understanding of research in education is that it is simply a means of trying to understand the complexities of the educational and social science challenges that students, teachers, and others in these contexts face. This meaning can actually be applied, not just to research in education and the social sciences, but also to any research. Put this way, research can be seen as a means to understanding something.

Together with experience and reasoning, research is one of the three primary means humans use to understand the nature of their world Mouly, I put truth in inverted commas at this stage because it is a contested term, but we shall return to it later on in our study of Research Methods. This way of knowing involves looking and looking again, hence re-search , so as to gain a deeper understanding of a phenomenon.

Before delving deeper into a more formal definition of the meaning of research, I should like you to take a moment to listen to this YouTube resource which I find helpful in explaining what we mean by research in a very simple way:. From this simple explanation of what we mean by research, we are able to provide a more structured, formal definition of the meaning of research, taken from the writings of Kerlinger , one of the leaders in the field.

Kerlinger , defines research as the systematic, empirical and critical investigation of propositions about the presumed relations among natural phenomena, to find answers to important questions. I have chosen this definition because it comprises five concepts or criteria, which I believe are crucial to our deep understanding of the meaning of such a complex term. These concepts are:.

I now take each of these concepts and unpack them for you. The term systematic investigation is used in this definition to convey the meaning that research is conducted according to a well-conceived plan.

Primary data and secondary data

Such a plan can also be referred to as an orderly system, or a well-articulated methodology. For an investigation to be rightly regarded as a systematic investigation, it has to meet the following seven criteria. Firstly, it should comprise a significant question that can be investigated empirically. Significant here means that the answer to the question posed will make a noteworthy contribution to the fund of available knowledge in the field.

It is noteworthy that because research in education and the social sciences deals with humans, it does not require hypotheses to be formulated and tested. We shall return to this topic later on in the book. Secondly, the investigation needs to be informed by relevant literature. In other words, it does not depend on what is in your head or what you know about the topic, but it is well grounded in existing literature pertinent to your topic. Thirdly, it should be grounded in a theoretical framework. Fourthly, it should apply well-established methods of investigation.

Suffice to say at this stage that the scientific research method requires experimentation involving observations of controlled variables. Fifthly, it should be consistent with coherent and explicit reasoning. This means that it will involve the researcher in making deductive or inductive reasoning. Sixthly, it should be case-specific, but transferable under certain assumptions. A lot of research studies in education and the social sciences involve case studies that investigate a localised phenomenon deeply.

Because they focus on a particular case, replication and generalisation of their findings are not the goal of the research or essential for the research to be deemed a success.

(PDF) Challenges in Conducting Secondary Data Analysis | Lorena Ortega -

Finally, systematic research should generate findings that can be scrutinised by other researchers and critiqued for their academic rigor and integrity. This also means that, to paraphrase Guba , the findings must be credible, dependable, confirmable, and trustworthy based on evidence.

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Conducting an empirical investigation in education and the social sciences is a way of gaining knowledge through observation and personal experience. Empirical tells us simply that data will be necessary to provide the basis for answering the research question or questions investigated. What is important for our research to qualify, as an empirical investigation is that the findings are based on evidence that is systematically gathered by the researcher through their direct observations or their personal experiences of a phenomenon or phenomena studied. As said earlier, controlled experimentation is neither possible, nor necessary.

Furthermore, as we shall see later on in the study of this unit, an empirical investigation in education and the social sciences does not have to use quantitative research methods. It can use either quantitative, or qualitative or mixed research methods. The emphasis is that the data are evidence-based. For research to be characterized as meeting the critical investigation criterion, it must involve a careful examination of data that constitute the necessary evidence.

That evidence also needs to be carefully evaluated. The evaluated evidence is then used to determine the essential features or characteristics of what is studied. Furthermore, the evidence is used to determine the nature or characteristics of the phenomenon being investigated.

These could include, for example, the quality of a product or service, the conditions in the situation or context being investigated, the attributes and features of what is being researched. Critical investigation also means that the data gathered are used to discover the real meaning embedded in those data. For example, trying to decipher and understand exactly what interviewees meant when they responded to a particular question asked during an interview.

Critical analysis also means that the researcher can pass judgment as to whether the evidence reveals any truth, merit, errors or flaws. In critical analysis, evidence is used to gather facts and to ask questions to reveal meaning people in the educational context make of their circumstances. The analysis includes a careful use of evidence to examine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats SWOT that might exist in a situation.

This way, the critical analysis process enables the researcher to use the evidence to reach independent and justifiable, well-informed, trustworthy conclusions.

It is important for us as researchers in education and the social sciences to be able to distinguish between critical analysis and descriptive analysis. As you can tell from the above paragraph, critical analysis is a higher-order cognitive process Bloom, It involves a deep understanding of the phenomenon being investigated.

The depth of understanding enables the researcher to make well-grounded conclusions. In contrast, descriptive analysis is the analysis of data that helps the researcher to simply summarise and describe the data gathered in a meaningful way. Unlike critical analysis, descriptive analysis does not provide sufficient depth and detail about the data to enable the researcher to make conclusions beyond the data analysed, or reach conclusions about any hypotheses that the researcher might have formulated.

It provides a simple way of describing research data, and is often used as a first step in the data analysis process. Table 1 highlights some of the features that should help you to distinguish between critical analysis and descriptive analysis. Those four skills are:. Let me tell you a little about the Super 4C Skills without digressing too much. These skills were first identified by what is called the Partnership for 21st Century Skills P21, as the skills that American students need to graduate with, in addition to the traditional skills, to effectively contribute to the progress and prosperity of America.

Trilling and Fadel assert that these skills are needed, not only by college graduates, but also by anyone and everyone that seeks to be a productive citizen in their country. And so, you should appreciate the importance of the need to develop your critical analysis skills, since they contribute to your ability to develop and to apply critical thinking — a Super Skill. The literature shows that without these skills, successful participation in statehood, i. As a researcher in education and the social science contexts, you will need to engage in critical analysis and critical thinking.

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skilfully conceptualizing, applying, analysing, evaluating data and using the evidence to create new knowledge. This is important to you because, a key criterion in determining whether you should be awarded a PhD or not, is whether your thesis demonstrates that you have made a new contribution to knowledge in the field of your research. Critical thinking is reflected in your data analysis and interpretation of your research results in which the discussion of your findings shows your ability to tell facts from opinions; to see holes in an argument, to spot illogic, and to investigate cause and effect relationships.

Application of critical thinking in your research enables you to challenge the evidence contained in your data for its integrity and authenticity. As a researcher, you will need to engage in critical analysis to inform your critical thinking.