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Research Methodology " Observations of children with special educational needs.

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Introduction

Research Methodology - Observations of children with special educational needs. The objective of research is to improve our understanding of academic practice and the context in which it takes place. Research is intended to provide a foundation for others, to develop their own professional practice. There are many different ways in which research can be carried out, which fall into two categories. There are qualitative methods and quantitative methods. Qualitative research includes methods that produce non-numeric data. It is concerned with understanding the meaning of various aspects of behaviour from the perspective of those studied, in other words collecting, analysing, and interpreting data by observing what people do and say. Some examples of qualitative research include interviews, direct observations and focus groups. In contrast quantitative research does generate numeric data or data that can be converted into numbers. It is an inquiry into an identified problem, based on testing a theory, measured with numbers, and analysed using statistical techniques, whereas qualitative research focuses on developing a theory. Quantitative research involves using structured questions where the response options have been predetermined and a large number of participants are involved. Examples of quantitative research include surveys (which may include multiple choice answers), and questionnaires. There are many advantages and disadvantages to both these types of research. The advantages of qualitative research are that it allows for greater awareness of the viewpoint of participants, this method also helps build new theories explore new areas of research, and aren't limited by rigidly defined variables. ...read more.

Middle

The ethical and social research council released a "Research Ethics Framework (REF)" to ensure the implementation of such practice (REF, 2005). Researchers should ensure that the risks to participants are minimised by research procedures that don't unnecessarily expose them to risks, that the rights and welfare of participants are adequately protected and also that informed consent has been obtained from all participants and this has been properly documented (Anderson, 1999). When seeking consent researchers need to inform people with; an explanation of the purpose of the research and procedures that will be used, a description of any risks, a description of any benefits, a disclosure of any alternative procedures that may be advantageous to the participant and a statement that participation is voluntary (1999, p19). However, sometimes receiving informed consent from children can be difficult, especially if the children have either special educational needs or communication difficulties due to English being an additional language. It is important to realise that participants also have the right to withdraw their consent at any time during the research. In the process of observations, consent isn't always required. Such examples are when the observer doesn't have any contact with the participants (complete observer). Another thing that researchers need to bear in mind is that with observations, especially in "complete participant" and "participant observer", it can be difficult to record whilst in the field or situation, and since most recording must be done by memory, it can be difficult to recall all the information. ...read more.

Conclusion

This research method provides researchers with many opportunities to interact with the participants and gain first hand experience of their behaviour, which may not have been possible through the use of questionnaires or surveys for example. However, if this method were to be used to collect information a number of factors would need to be taken into consideration. First of all I would need to consider how to approach the observation (complete observer, participant...etc) and then I would have to find a way to tackle the disadvantages of the method. For example, the participant observer seems the best option to take, as it is a middle ground between the other two poles, however, this raises the issue of missing out on possible behaviour whilst stepping back to make notes on what was observed during the activity. I could consider recording the activities as well as participating in them, this way I could ensure that I was gaining as much first hand evidence as I could and also had the information backed up, so that I could recall and observe the data at a later date and ensure I viewed everything. Through this close examination of researching through observations I do believe that this method is the most appropriate for my chosen topic of children with special needs. As mentioned earlier there are many areas that can be observed within this topic, through hands on experience, and since it focuses on dealing with children with special needs I feel observing the children is a much better option than interviews would be, since the children would be prone to feeling stressed by being put into that situation. ...read more.

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