Saturday, February 25, 2012

Assignment: When I Think of Research

When I started this course, I knew almost nothing about planning or designing a research study. I learned about quantitative vs. qualitative research and the steps involved in creating a research design. One lesson that I learned was that it takes a lot of time to design research. It is necessary to break it down into steps and later you can go back and change some of the plans to fit your needs. I also learned that it is more manageable in smaller steps. When you look at designing the entire research project at once, it is intimidating.

My first challenge was choosing a topic and sticking with it. My first two topics didn’t work out because during the literature review, I didn’t find any information. However, I learned along the way that I wasn’t looking in the right places. Using the Walden library has always been a challenge, but it is getting easier. I finally settled on the topic of infant friendships and with some modifications for each style of research, I was able to use it throughout the course. Another challenge was developing a hypothesis. This is where I had to modify my research question to make a hypothesis work. Then later in the course, I learned that when you use qualitative research, a hypothesis isn’t necessary. This fit my study better because I was looking at more than one variable. Keeping track of the terms and what they meant were a challenge. Some of the terms that were confusing to me at first were independent vs. dependent variables and qualitative vs. quantitative research. Doing the research simulations helped me to better understand these concepts.

Now I have a better understanding of what it takes to do research with children. I don’t feel I’ve changed a lot as a professional after taking this course, but now I can easily read research articles. This will help as it’s important to keep up with the latest information in the field. I have more respect for researchers and the work they do. If it weren't for researchers, we wouldn't have as much knowledge in the field. I also learned that you don’t have to do formal studies to be a research project. We are researcher’s everyday when we ask questions and try to find the answers. For example, one of my questions at the beginning of this course was, how can I expand my preschoolers play themes past trains and cars? Since then, we have tried a few different things in our classroom. We have added some new materials to centers, have stopped allowing toys from home and we have introduced new themes. The trains are still a favorite center, but the children seem more willing to try the other centers as well.

When I think back to the first week of the course, I wondered how I would get through it. I did a lot of work, learned new information and am glad I finished the course. I want to thank everyone for their support and helpful and insightful comments on the blogs and discussion boards. I look forward to seeing some of you in the next course.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Assignment: Research Around the World

The website I chose to look at was European Early Childhood Education Research Journal.

Many of the issues they are researching are similar to early childhood issues here in the US. Some of their articles include, Introducing children's perspectives and participation in research, Early education for diversity: starting from birth, The influence of play context and adult attitudes on young children's physical risk‐taking during outdoor play, The dynamics of early childhood spaces: opportunities for outdoor play? What's so interesting outside? A study of child‐initiated interaction with teachers in the natural outdoor environment, Togetherness and play under the same roof: children's perceptions about families and The social and cultural contexts of second language acquisition in young children. This journal covers many issues. There are studies on topics ranging from diversity to professional development. I noticed that some of the more recent issues focused on a specific topic. One focused on children between ages zero to three and another covered different aspects of children’s learning outdoors. The other thing I noticed about this journal is that it’s very diverse. There are studies done in many countries and not just the European ones.

Since I’ve already taken the Trends in Early Childhood course, I wasn’t surprised by the things I found on this website. I had already learned that many issues in the field are similar in most parts of the world. One thing that I’ve noticed after talking to my international contacts from the last class and by looking at this website is that they are much more concerned with children having outdoor time. Here in the US, many school age children don’t have recess. Since the journals were mainly talking about younger children, I wonder if there is a push to get school age children outdoors as well. The other thing I have gained from this assignment is another useful resource for articles and information. Here is a link to their most popular articles as well. Click here.
Designed by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates