Governmental Education Issue, Research Paper Example

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Words: 2075

Research Paper

Abstract

In the academic world, an educational research is often considered to be one of the most challenging fields of research conduct. This consideration is often conditioned by general academic perception that any research in the aforementioned field is characterised by the preference of qualitative over quantitative methodological approach. Thus, it is often viewed as rather subjective research conduct than exact and neutral. Another potential challenge of the target research is in the need to connect theoretical dimension of research with the practical data collection. The aim of the present paper is to outline a methodological section of the target project in the framework of general description of methodology, procedures, evaluation plan, assumptions, limitations and delimitations of the project.

Key words: educational research, methodology, quantitative, qualitative, interview.

Methodology Section

In the academic world, an educational research is often considered to be one of the most challenging fields of research conduct. This consideration is often conditioned by the general academic perception that any research in the aforementioned field is characterised by the preference of qualitative over quantitative methodological approach. Thus, it is often viewed as rather subjective research than exact and neutral. Another potential challenge of the target research is the need to connect theoretical dimension of research with the practical data collection. For instance, evaluation of a certain program or new policy might not be properly justified through the empirical verification of the potential suggestions or the existing program’s outcomes. Other potential challenges of the present research might be “the academic naivety”, by which is meant an attempt to give research meaning beyond its actual potential (Lodico, Spaulding, & Voegtle, 2010). In this context is meant that researcher might consider that his/hers   exploration might be able to overcome limitations of subjectivity, validity, usefulness and be able to change something in the existing system of education. While the author might be able to overcome the internal inconsistencies of the research, the external factor of validity and accuracy of information will remain a substantial challenge of the whole project.

In order to be sequential, the present project is aimed at a research as the main methodological approach. The main reason why this type of research conduct was chosen is because it corresponds to the research question of how the governmental K-12 or “No Child Left Behind” educational funding was affected by the economic crisis and further recession. The preference is given to the research over development and evaluation, because the aim of the present project is to find the current situation of governmental funding and not to imply how the situation should be improved (Wallen & Fraenkel, 2011). Thus, research, aiming at description and acknowledgment of certain states of affairs in the framework of cause-effect relationship, corresponds better to the target project objectives. The author argues that before applying development or evaluation methods, research method should be used.  Therefore, in a long-term perspective, the present project can evolve into an evaluative or developmental research, which would “inform the decision making process during the development of a product/program in order to improve the product/program being developed and the developers’ capability to create things of  this kind in future situations” (Akker, 1999, p. 4). Thus, unlike in development and evaluation, in the research the emphasis is placed not on the supportive role of the project in its explanation of the existing situational specifics, which perfectly corresponds to project’s objectives.

In the framework of the research method, the project will include the following procedures. First of all, in order to understand how the governmental funding had changed under the influence of the recession, it is essential to emphasise the legal framework of governmental commitment to the mentioned initiative and its priority among other governmental policies (Leedy& Ormrod, 2005).  This procedural step will cover the exploration of the official governmental document referring to the target issue from the point of exact governmental commitment to it, which means reading subsequent parts of constitution, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and further regulations on the federal level. In this context, analysis of the texts will be conducted from the point of their conceptual rather than contents analysis perspective. The main resource of the aforementioned materials would be the official website of the Ministry of Education and links to the websites indicated in it.

The second procedural step would involve practical interviewing of the governmental officials responsible for the program development and implementations, teachers delivering the program and parents of the target children group.  This step would be able to give an opportunity for the researcher to collect empirical data on the topic and also to achieve interdisciplinary evaluation of the problem from practitioners’ point of view. In this regard, the interviewing would be conducted with the application of the semi-structured interviewing method, meaning that the initial list of questions will be provided in advance with a further opportunity to ask additional questions during the actual meeting, telephone or skype conversation (Lodico et al., 2010).   The potential questions would include the following: “How is government sponsoring the K-12 program?”, “Are there any potential ways to increase funding?”, “What are the more important priorities in comparison to this?”, “Whether this amount is enough?”, “What are the reasons for the current situation?”. The list of people for the interview will depend largely on official’s availability and desire to conduct interview on the first place. That is why it is advisable to create two lists – the first one of people who are the most preferable for the project and the second list in case the first candidates refuse or additional information is required (Leedy& Ormrod, 2005).

The third step would be entirely devoted to the quantitative analysis of the existing statistics on the governmental funding. The field of interest would include data on how much funds were devoted to the target policy from the time of its introduction to the nowadays. Thus, the comparative analysis of the previous statistics and the present data will be conducted. The relevance of this procedural step for the project question is in factual explanation of the change in funding before and after crisis of 2008/2009 from strictly financial and objective perspectives (Wallen & Fraenkel, 2011). The main reason why this step was included is because it contributes to the general; objectivity of the research. In other words, strict financial matters would contribute to the relatively subjective and situation-conditioned opinions of the people, both interviewed and those conducting research (Wallen & Fraenkel, 2011). The final procedural step would be an analysis of all data collected and its interpretation from the cause-effect perspective. The relevance of this step is of crucial significance because at this point the answer to the research question will be given. A particular feature of this step is that the researcher would have to mange to keep the balance between subjectivity of the qualitative method and relative dryness of the quantitative. In other words, the researcher will have to analyse the data and available arguments from the point of their validity and trustworthiness, which is again quite subjective matter (Leedy& Ormrod, 2005). Thus, the success of the present project will depend on this balance.

In order to keep the balance between personal perception of the case and academic objectivity, evaluative plan is required. First of all, evaluation of the legal framework will be conduct on the basis of conceptual relevance for the research question. In other words, it would be essential to discover how much government is required to spend on the target initiative and what might be the legal limitations of this commitment. For instance, it would be relevant to see whether the War on Terror had significant legal priority over the target policy of K-12. In this context, legal and official documents will be read and quoted in order to support researcher’s central thesis (Lodico et al., 2010). Secondly, interviewing data will be evaluated on the basis of the position of the interviewed individual and particular interest in the target policy and relationship to the governmental institution or final beneficiaries. In this context additional academic opinions and analysis might be of the relevant source for opinion seeking. In this context, review of the working conclusions by peers might be helpful to preserve the ground of balance and efficiency of the research.

An essential aspect of interviewing part of the research is that researcher should try to keep his study of the topic from situational understanding of individuals’ personal attitudes to the target topic (Leedy& Ormrod, 2005). In this context, relevant evaluative technique would be writing down data collected during the interview and analysing it only some time after the initial conduct of the interview (Wallen & Fraenkel, 2011). In such a way the researcher will be able to abstract himself from the individual interviewed and pay attention only to the data collected during the conversation. Further on, evaluation of the statistical data will be conducted on the basis of its source, time frame of collection, overall number of states covered and potential statistical and finical discrepancies (Wallen & Fraenkel, 2011). Thus, attention should be paid not only to the amount of funds devoted to the target policy, but also their origins and relevance under the increasing requirements of the educational system. Attention will be also paid to the relevance of funds from the point of inflation rates increase and general economic conditions of recession.

The general assumption of the target research is that the data available from the official websites and governmental archives is valid and corresponds to the real states of affairs with a slight statistical inconsistency due to the inflation rates and potential outdated ways of data collection when the case refers to the decades-old statistics. Another assumption is that the target research would be relevant mainly for the specialists in the field of education and potentially for the academics in the target field. It is quite unlikely that policy-makers and specialist in other fields would be interested in this project or might use it for an exhaustive evaluation of the target topic. The specific assumptions include the following. First of all, the validity of conclusions depends on the validity of statistical and interviewing data available and objectivity of the researcher; thus, it can differ from the existing, generally accepted viewpoint on the subject matter (Leedy& Ormrod, 2005). Secondly, the final relevance of the project to the field of education will depend on the conclusions and their contribution for further analysis of the target topic.

The main limitation of the present research is the subjectivity of both data collected by researcher and the one available on-line on the official web-sites. Therefore, 100% accuracy of conclusions is impossible. Thus, the research would still bear certain percentage of inaccuracy and uncertainty, which would not be overcame by procedural improvement (Wallen & Fraenkel, 2011). On the other hand, the aim of the research is not in evaluation of the existing policy, but in its description and conditionality due to the recession. Therefore, the project would still be able to fulfil its objectives. The specific limitation of qualitative method is balanced by use of quantitative analysis. The researcher’s subjectivity would be further measured by the peers’ review of the project and its further validation.

The main delimitation of the research is in its wide scope of federal level of funding, without specification of the policy conduct on the local level. This limitation is conditioned by the timeframe and scope of the project. On the other hand, the present project might be the basis for the future more specific research of the target topic on the states and local levels.  Another restriction of the project is that it is devoted only to the governmental K-12 or “No Child Left Behind” educational funding affected by recession and not the whole scope of governmental funding of education. The project also does not pay attention to the distribution of those funds between different levels of study. Those delimitations might be unravelled in further research projects in case this one proves to be efficient and successful.

References

Akker, van den Jan (1999) (Ed.). Design Approaches and Tools in Education and Training. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publisher.

Leedy, P.D. & Ormrod, J.E. (2005). Practical Research: Planning and Design. New Jersey,NJ: Pearson Education.

Lodico, M.G., Spaulding, D.T. and Voegtle K.H. (2010). Methods in Educational Research: From Theory to Practice. 2nd Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Wallen, N.E. & Fraenkel, J.R. (2011).  Educational Research: A Guide to the Process. 2nd Edition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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