Welcome to Building Research Competency!
Over the next several weeks, we will learn about the in-depth process of research! The research process is relevant to early childhood education, as it continuous provides additional evidence and support to further enhance the quality and effectiveness this field has to offer. Therefore, it is crucial that we support and learn from each other as we work towards becoming critical consumers of research.
One of the initial steps in the research simulation project was identifying a general topic. From there we narrowed our focus and identified three related subtopics. After contemplating what ignited my personal and professional passion for early learning and development, I decided on the following:
When I first encountered the research simulation project, I will admit that I was overwhelmed by the amount of “diversity of issues, as well as the complexity within each issue” (Mac Naughton & Rolfe, 2010, p. 15). To choose just one general topic seemed like a daunting task to me, as I wasn’t sure where to even begin. Therefore, I compiled a list of topics that kindled my professional passion and challenged me to gain deeper insights and information. While my list was lengthy, I was able to narrow down to three general topics, with family relationships and partnerships ranking near the topic. I contemplated each issue, weighing which one interested me on a professional and passionate level and would “be of interest and significance to other people” (Mac Naughton & Rolfe, 2010, p. 16). Despite the fact that the other two topics captivated me, the desire to learn more about effective strategies to foster positive family relationships and partnerships far out weighed any other topic, and further research on this area would assist me personally, as well as benefit the families and other professionals I work with.
So, I went through this entire process to whittle down my topic to one specific focus. After I completed this task, I sat back and asked myself, Why did this area trump every other one? What was it about this topic that captivated me and motivated me to dig deeper? I recalled my personal experience as a parent of a young child. My son, who is currently 3, struggles with multiple disabilities that require numerous doctor appointments monthly and countless therapy sessions weekly. On top of this, I am a single mom juggling two jobs (which equate to about 48 hours a week), graduate school, and a beautiful son who needs more attention than a typical three year old. By the time I get to his child care center each day, my mind is already floating away with the long list of things to do. I do want to be an actively involved parent in my child’s early learning days. The desire is there. Yet, I struggle with how to get there. What are the strategies that I can utilized (and fit into my crazy schedule appropriately) to help increase my participation, which will then build family participation and cooperation? Therein lies one aspect behind the topic of choice for research.
Stepping aside from a personal perspective, I reflected on an earlier observation in a child care center, where I looked specifically for the involvement and cooperation of families. I tied a lot of professional passion for building family partnerships back to this sole observation. While I witnessed a few techniques that were used (like families being able to celebrate birthdays), I wanted to know what more can this center do to include more families? What about the families behind the scenes who appear shy and timid upon drop off and pick up? Or how about those moms or dads who struggle with a similar schedule like mine? What effective strategies are there that professionals can incorporate to include most, if not all, families in the learning and development of their young children? All of these questions remained with me, even months after the observation was complete. My passion was peaked. I want to know more about these effective strategies to help satisfy both my personal and professional questions ab
As I sit here, constructing this week’s blog post, I must admit one small thing to you all: I have had little experience with research. My personal experience is relatively slim. I usually shy away from research articles, as the unfamiliar terminology and statistics overwhelm me. I would incorporate bits and pieces from certain articles to help support research-based papers for undergraduate and graduate courses. Aside from this, I have dabbled little in the process of research.
With that confession out in the open, I can now freely pen my personal experiences thus far with this research simulation. Although it’s only been about two weeks since this course started, I can bravely state I have accumulated some personal experience. I have started to read through a handle from of research articles. I say a handful because my experience is just that: it takes time. Oh my, my poor mind fully expected to breeze through an article, yet two hours later I still sat at the table, trying to draw all of the connections throughout the process. I read each section of the articles at least a dozen of times (yes, a dozen as in 12), and after that I only began to understand the depth of the article. My personal experience quickly acquired the fact that this research simulation will consume more time and knowledge than I initially expected, yet I have high hopes that it will shape and mold me. Furthermore, I have begun my search for literature to support my subtopic. I am pleased to say that I have located several articles that support my research simulation. I am excited to begin to weed through them, identifying those articles that are well-supported and will enhance my efforts. Aside from these small feats in this research simulation, my personal experience halts to a stop. Yet, I am prepared to pick up pace, perhaps in dou
Rather than bore you to death with the droning on of my overflowing word count, I have decided to make it easier on your eyes with breezy bullet points of those insights I have gleaned thus far (and it’s only been two weeks!):
- As stated above, research is time-consuming. Now I understand why dedicated researchers make a career out of it. Instead of simply glancing, one must explore deeply the article to gain the full connections, main points, results, and conclusions. While this may not be the case for the trained eye who just knows how to read research, I am beginning to understand that those completing research need time – lots of it!
- There is a lot of terminology in research. One must be familiar and actually know the definitions to these words in order to fully grasp the depth of a research article. I speak from experience. I read through an article, not knowing any of the main terms used. Then I found the Appendix in the main course text book, which explained the main terminology. Using this as a resource, I went back to the article, and I could understand it much better. Terminology is key in research!
- Not all research is of quality and value. Going through the checklists of criteria and acceptable standards, I was able to see how certain research articles and resources shouldn’t be used. All research needs to be approached cautiously and critiqued carefully. If we were to haphazardly use all of the research we just happen to come by, it could skew the results or lead us to one side or opinion of the issue.
- There are a lot of steps in research. Read through this week’s chapter in the main text book, my eyes were really opened to just how much effort is put into the process of research. These steps must be completed, for if even one were skipped, the whole research process could be null and void. While there are a lot of steps in research, it is necessary. These steps contribute to the level of quality and credibilit
This is where you, my colleagues, come into play. Just as we can see in the research process, it can not be completed thoroughly and efficiently by a single person. It takes teamwork. So, how can you contribute? How can we work together as a team? Answering one or more of these questions is a great start!
- What advice do you have in regards to the research process in general?
- Are there any tips you use and have come to really enjoy when doing research?
- What do you tend to shy away from in research?
- What has been your biggest fear with research and how have you overcome this?
- Do you use any strategies to comprehend a research article that is time-effici
As stated above, we are a team. Therefore, I would love to share with you the insights I gained (see above for the start to the list), as well as any resources that I have come to greatly appreciated. Listed below are a few resources if you would like additional support for the research process:
- Lepuschitz, J.K. (2011). A practical guide to reading research articles. Laureate Education Inc., Baltimore, MD. (Yes, I realize this is a course resource, yet I believe it was worth another mention just in case you haven’t gotten a chance to see it yet.)
- Website: Richard Taflinger’s Home Page: http://public.wsu.edu/~taflinge/index.html
Near the top of this page, you will find four links to the process of research. I liked his writings, as it gave me a different perspective on research.
- Website: Purdue Online Writing Lab: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/
One of my favorite resources to make sure that I’m citing correctly in APA.
What resources have you acquired that you want to share with your colleagues?
Come back for more posts about my personal experience and journey with research.
Mac Naughton, G. & Rolfe, S.A. (2010). Doing early childhood research: International perspectives on theory and practice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.