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Doing, Writing and Presenting Research

From a Good Idea to a Robust Research Design: A Discussion of Challenges in Designing Early Childhood Research

nzrece journalClaire McLachlan
© ChildForum

 

Abstract:  Designing and carrying out research in the area of early childhood education is one that is attempted by many, including experienced and beginning researchers, postgraduate and undergraduate students as well as by people working in a range of different early childhood services. For all, the principle of a robust design is key to successful data collection and analysis, but creating a strong design that is best suited to answering research questions and the research context can be challenging, particularly given ongoing tensions regarding the nature of appropriate educational research methods. Issues of epistemology, theoretical position, methodology and choice of methods for early childhood research will be explored in this paper, along with some working principles and practices for beginning researchers. (Published in the NZRECE Journal, 2010, Vol. 13, pp 87 - 100.)

 

Introduction

In my current role at the university, I am privileged to work with a number of postgraduate students. Each year, students tell me that conceptualising methodology and linking it to a theoretical framework is a challenging aspect of postgraduate study. Working on this assumption, the common challenges and decision making required for postgraduate students, beginning researchers and teachers researching their own classroom are explored. I have written this paper to help to clarify issues and choices and demystify designing research. The paper begins with an overview of the challenges for early childhood research in New Zealand, before outlining and discussing the nature of robust research, the conceptualisation of a robust research design, some issues concerning choice of methodologies, and finally common concerns that beginning researchers encounter.

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