Ethics in Research

I think what I am most concerned about ethically when doing research is my own ignorance. My background in research is 100% historical research and/or literature analysis, no studies of humans. So, I haven’t been trained to be aware of possible effects of the research I will do. Similarly, I hadn’t considered that providing a technology intervention should be considered a form of treatment. If I was handing out pills, I would definitely be more cautious about testing out my theories on people, especially on students which is predominately my research field. I have done my NIH training, and it was a little overwhelming. In fact, my first response was “umm is this really the kind of research I want to do??” Ha! Then I remembered that I want to solve problems for teachers and students, so this kind of research is what it is going to take.

I have the same concerns about the IRB approval process. I am not interested in wasting the time of the faculty or the IRB committee by submitting an application that shows my ignorance. So, I really need to know my resources for constant review to help me in the IRB application as well as for my own research design. One of the requirements in our research is do not harm. It had never occurred to me that anyone in Learning Technologies could do harm! That is because my previous perspective of research had nothing to do with studying humans directly. Further, I am not clear on when to do IRBs. What is the timeline? What can you do when you are waiting on approval? During our meeting, Dr. Warren said when getting IRB approval on minors, it could take between 2-4 months. So, I am concerned about time management since my work will be focused on students.

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Just Thinkin’ ’bout Research

At this stage in my career, I am definitely more concerned with practical research questions rather than theoretical. What draws me to practical research is my job. I currently work in the classroom. I am constantly evaluating and adapting my process even within the same day in a different class period. I have a great group of students who have a particular set of obstacles to overcome. So, when I think about spending my limited free time on research, I want to have practical answers to help my students. Further, I want to find real solutions that work in the classroom. I want to witness the effectiveness of some aspect I’ve researched for my specific students that actually works. What’s more, if it works for me, I want to share it. I don’t have a problem with theoretical research; it just feels less important than practical research.

 

I guess to start, my first research question is What is collaboration? I want to know what definitions are out there. I am specifically looking for versions that lean towards interdependent learning structures and assignment design. Then, I’d like to test out some version of interdependent learning style collaboration on a group of my current freshman in high school. I would like to take a 6 weeks, possibly the 6 weeks teaching Romeo and Juliet where I have two of my four classes integrating  collaborative assignments and two classes using the traditional group work style assignments. I’d like to do two for each side since time of day and class size really affects student participation and involvement. For example, first period of the day is one of the most difficult to get students to work with anyone. They are tired and don’t want to talk to anyone.  Also, the last period of the day is often more rowdy and harder to keep focused. Group work easily shifts to social time since they  just got back from lunch. So, I’d like a wider group for each style of teaching/learning. As far as data, I’d look at the level of analysis in their final project as well as the data from a multiple-choice test.

What to do, what to do?

The kind of research I am attracted to is research based on actual successes in the classroom. However, in class this week you talked about Education being a subset of Psychology. You described education as a way of influencing behavior and thinking, and therefore, theories of thinking should underpin our research projects. This is a new realm of research for me, so I think starting here is both efficient but also overwhelming. I have done zero amount of research in Psychology as it relates to Education. I wonder if this would be a better minor for my degree plan rather than business administration or educational leadership? I can’t know until I start reading.

The questions I am constantly asking are related to both read and writing and always collaboration. I have my own theory, based on experience as a student and a teacher, that learning is social. I can easily learn from a book. I can easily learn from doing. But, the most engaging way I have learned is by having to work with a group on an assignment that I could not truly do on my own. This type of learning was also connected to an immersive learning experience abroad. So, I wonder what kind of design creates those types of assignments? How do we design that? What theory is under all that? How do we create interdependent learning opportunities? How do we evaluate if it was an effective method? How do we measure growth with these types of assignments? How will these assignments support state testing in a high school setting? How do we draw in reluctant students to play their part without it damaging others in the process? Or can we? How do we really “grade” collaborative learning? Should we? Can we create immersive learning environments in a stationary classroom? What learning technologies help to create interdependent learning as well as immersive technologies?

I can see that there are two topics intermixing: collaboration and immersive learning. There is an overlap. When I get into gaming in the classroom as a method for collaboration that is where I start to delve into the immersive learning environments as well. That is when I come back to reading and writing as topics for research. I wonder how we could use immersive technologies to teach reading and writing separately but also maybe together!  I don’t know what is out there, so I need to start reading!

Real World Research

I am most interested in collaboration in the classroom. So far right now, collaboration is only a word that educators throw around but it has very little substance. Collaboration is more than group work, but what is it really? Further, how does technology support that, enable that, and hinder that? So, my research will be focused first on defining the term more concretely. Then, I’d like to see if there are different functioning versions of this definition. I’d like to then test out those theories in my own high school classroom. After those tests, I want to know how to more effectively train a variety of teachers in the real meaning and function of collaboration. This would include core, vocational, and elective teachers. Finally, I would like to support this research with suggest strategies for instructional design integrated with effective collaboration

As far as learning technologies, I am curious about available tools out there like VoiceThread or Quizlet Live that support collaborative learning. I am also curious about Computer Supported Collaborated Learning (CSCL). I don’t exactly know what that is, but Dr. Lin suggested I look into it for this topic. The common tool used today for “collaboration” is live documents. These kinds of tools are super cool, but I am wanting tools that create an interdependent learning environment rather than just a shared space.

What I found most enlightening about class and the first chapter of Real World Research is the emphasis on what our research should be about. I appreciate that this research is really focused on real-world problem solving. I do love research, but I feel that research for the sake of knowing is short-sighted. I can do that kind of work on my own time. But, research for the sake of problem solving is very motivating, and what’s more, it feels easier. You are telling I should be trying to solve problems, not just point them out. This gives more validity to why I chose this program over a strictly English PhD and that makes me feel confidant about my choice.