What Is Educational Inquiry?

Topics: Scientific method, Research, Sociology Pages: 5 (1810 words) Published: May 25, 2013
What is educational inquiry?

Educators and scholars draw upon data from many sources and on different subjects to illuminate current issues and trends in educational institutions. These subjects may include data from demography, health, education, culture and environment as well as government institutions and national databases. Educators and scholars use various research methods to collect, analyse and critique their findings to support or refute the topic of inquiry they are undertaking. Many researchers will commonly use the published data of others in the same manor to reinforce/support or counter argue their standing in a subject area.

Three articles have been chosen to critique in order to demonstrate various research methodologies, the analysis of the data sets involved and the findings of the research. The chosen articles are: “Class Size and Teacher Quality” by Jennifer Buckingham (2003) “Whatever happened to play time?” by John Evans (2007)

“Early childhood teachers: Roles and relationships”, by Anne B. Smith, Bruce W. McMillan, Shelley Kennedy & Brenda Ratcliff (1992) Through these articles analysis of validity and bias will be explored as well as the strengths and weaknesses, on the premiss of answering the question of ‘What is educational inquiry?’

Class Size and Teacher Quality (Buckingham. 2003)
Buckingham (2003) conducts a critical appraisal of the research methods and findings of an independent inquiry compiled for the NSW Teachers Federation on the topic of Class Size and Teacher Quality. Mesotheory would be considered as a paradigm for this article as it relates to one system, however it is still broad enough not to fit into the category of microtheory due to the size of the institution that it was compiled for (Babbie, E. 2011). Buckingham (2003) has employed a deductive theory to critique the original article, as she has specified the topic as being the effects of class size and teacher quality on student outcomes, as well as defining the pre determined range that the theory addresses (Patton, M. Q. 2002). Buckingham (2003), addresses the major concepts and variables through defining the validity of the data that was used to reinforce the findings of the inquiry. Buckingham (2003), also questions the bias of the participants responses in relation to the perceived benefits to teachers to support smaller class sizes, also known as the “Hawthorne effect” (Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. 2011, p.130).

One of the major arguments Buckingham proposes in the analysis of the data that was used to support the original outcomes, was that the data was extracted from broader studies. Patton (2002) states, that studies “cannot validly be divided into interdependent parts...because of the effects of the behaviour of the parts on the whole depends on what is happening to the other parts” (p. 120). There is evidence that some sources of the supporting data implemented a variety of reforms at the same time as reducing class size. Buckingham (2003) highlights this as a distortion of the quantitative data that was collected and should not be attributed to the successful findings in the reduction of class numbers. In the findings of Buckingham’s research, she quotes research that affirms her theory towards teacher quality being the successful contributing factor. Relevant data is sourced and quoted to support the findings. This included data collected from Australia, which was one of the significant points that was highlighted as lacking from the original data.

Whatever happened to play time? (Evans. 2007)
Evans (2007) uses a deductive theory to investigate the contested social issue question of “whatever happened to play time?” in the school environment. A number of factors are named to form part of the inquiry that Evans has undertaken. As this article has a significant range in regards to school institutions, a macrotheory blended with structural functionalism would describe the compatible...
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