Rationale: Throughout the module, we will learn to apply specific methods and design research instruments to answer a variety of questions. But choosing the right method for the question you want to ask is not easy. It requires you to consider the assumptions on which the method is built, the kind of evidence it can provide, the practical issues of recruiting participants or recording data, etc. This exercise requires you to explicitly reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of a specific method: what are its strengths, the unique advantages it offers? What are its limitations or blind spots? What aspects of the topic you are interested with could be best explored with this method? Your evaluation should reflect on the research exercise conducted in class and attempt to reflect on how the ideas we’ve studied work in practice.
Brief: After conducting one of the practical research exercises in class, write a 1500-word report reflecting on your learning experience in this activity. You should try not only to describe the procedures you learned, but to critically review the potential of this method to answer specific research questions. Your reflection should contain:
- (a) a brief definition of the research method employed, including its theoretical assumptions and the kinds of research for which it is employed;
- (b) a brief review of the strengths and limitations of this research method, in terms of the kinds of knowledge it can produce and the kind of questions it is suitable for;
- (c) a brief account of practical considerations and guidelines relevant to the conduct of a research project using this method;
- (d) a critical reflection on the experience of conducting the research exercise, emphasising not only what you did, but what you learned from doing it.
Advice: Your report should show not only an ability to reflect, but also to link your reflection with theory. You will need to draw on your readings to support your claims and justify the point you want to make. Do not simply repeat the handbook’s argument, though; you are not writing a methodology textbook, but a reflection on your own practice and learning, and you will need to show how the argument of the authors you cite applies to your particular case.
The broad view: conducting surveys and questionnaire design
Required reading: Rugg, G., & Petre, M. (2007). Questionnaires: when to use, when not to use, which questions to ask, what format to use. In A gentle guide to research methods (pp. 141–151). Maidenhead & New York: Open University Press.
- Bryman, A. (2008). Self Completion Questionnaires. In Social Research Methods (3rd ed., pp. 215–229). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Robson, C. (2011). Surveys and Questionnailes. In Real World Research: a resource for users of social research methods in applied settings (3rd edition, pp. 235–67). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.
- Krosnick, J. A., & Presser, S. (2010). Question and Questionnaire Design. In P. V. Marsden & J. D. Wright (Eds.), Handbook of Survey Research (2nd ed., pp. 263–314). Bingley: Emerald.
- Rugg, G., & Petre, M. (2007). Questionnaires: when to use, when not to use, which questions to ask, what format to use. In A gentle guide to research methods (pp. 141–151). Maidenhead & New York: Open University Press.
- Schaeffer, N. C., & Dykema, J. (2011). Questions for Surveys. Public Opinion Quarterly, 75(5), 909–961