Prior to taking the course, Building Research Competencies, my lens on research is purely in the finding out aspect about things that personally interest me – to be able to understand and find the explanation for the causation and interrelation of issues, events, and contexts. Little did I know that there are ramifications involved in research that would account for its feasibility, reliability, validity, and equity. Browsing through the chapters of Doing Early Childhood Research (Naughton, et.al., 2010) provided explanations to the components of research – from topic choice, method design, ethical considerations, to analyzing and presenting of information.
The research process is not a simplistic way of choosing a topic or framing a hypothesis, but being able to break the broad topic into sub-areas (Mac Naughton and Rolfe, 2010). Upon narrowing a topic, one has to consider the financial, time and human resources required to gather information. A big part of this is the consideration of ethical issues especially in seeking consent from potential participants. The researcher must be transparent in presenting the objectives, how the participants will take part, and how they will be given access to the findings of the research. The ethical issue of being able to communicate in a language the participants will understand the whole process of research is a primary consideration. Also, part of the process is studying carefully the equity issue of power relations when participants are given opportunities to negotiate and agree to the process on how their voice will be reflected (Grieshaber, 2010).
The method of study in relation to the objectives of the research and the nature of chosen participants can be quantitative, qualitative or a mix of both. Triangulation is an effective way of validating the data collected in a qualitative approach whether it is a method, data, theoretical or investigator. Thus, replicating a research is a viable way to validate its findings. Contrary to the common perception, where quantitative results that present statistical analysis is the only way to justify a research, it occurred to me that depending on the nature of the study, quantitative, qualitative or both can be applied.
Learning a new dimension about research, each week presented challenges although it has helped in refining and fine-tuning the research planning. The biggest realization that made me turn back to review the research plan thoroughly is the equity issue in research. It enabled me to reflect on my role as a researcher. How will I approach the process of data collection without overpowering and domineering the participants? One of the initial limitations that I considered was the capability of the participants. I then realized that if a researcher is cognizant of the social, economic, cultural, gender and age orientation, then the approaches planned for must match their predicaments. The early childhood researcher must, then, be an equal partner with participants – adults or children to co-construct the knowledge that will help in understanding or explaining the issues affecting the development of young children.
Scrutinizing the elements of the chosen research topic provides a solid foundation allowing for adjustments in time, resources and ways of collecting, analyzing and interpreting data. The results of the study whether it is a confirmation of the understanding, explanation of the cause of the phenomenon or otherwise, it is a reflective tool from which a sound decision can be made.
Discovering the complexity of research is, therefore, not a drawback in conducting research. Rather, it ensures that having a deep understanding of the process including the challenges and issues all contribute to a reliable and valid study that is equitable, relevant and an effective agent for change.
Naughton, Glenda Mac. & MacNaughton, Glenda. & Rolfe, Sharne A. & Siraj-Blatchford, Iram. (2010). Doing early childhood research : international perspectives on theory & practice.