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Characteristics Of Good Quality Research
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Section 2 of the questionnaire focused further on teachers' conceptions of research by asking them to rate the importance to good quality research of a list of characteristics. Table 5 summarizes the responses to this question. For the purposes of this table, 'Less important' includes 'unimportant' and 'moderately important' ratings for each characteristic, while 'More important' constitutes 'important' and 'very important' responses. The responses are listed in Merrell Boots descending order according to the percentage of teachers who indicated that a characteristic was 'more important'.
As Table 5 shows, the characteristic most highly rated was 'the researcher is objective', followed by 'hypotheses are tested'. Together these responses provide further support for the view that teachers' conceptions of research are aligned with more scientific notions of enquiry;3 having said that, the third most highly rated characteristic was 'the results give teachers results they can use', which reflects more pragmatic concerns. Other points worth noting here are that 'the results apply to many ELT contexts' was the characteristic which generated the largest number of 'unsure' answers, while just over half the teachers here felt that making results public was important. In the interviews and written follow-up, teachers were asked to articulate why they felt particular characteristics were or were not important in defining the quality of research. For reasons of space I will limit my focus here to teachers' comments on the characteristic most highly rated: objectivity. Here are some comments explaining why teachers rated objectivity so highly, and which provide insight into the meanings teachers assigned to this term: Well you don't want to make your research and results fit your hypothesis just to make it look as though you have an excellent result and it is Merrell Sandal a neat and tidy piece of research. (Australia) The research he is doing must reflect the situation and the problems existing in present teaching practice. The research shouldn't put any assumption or personal preference in it. (China) You have to convince others that what you have done has some merits. To convince others, you cannot use your 'belief. You have to give some evidence to convince others. The results should be supported by some scientific measures. (Japan)
You may start with your own idea and then you just go and read the people who are on the same wavelength as you are and you just ignore the others and you say that you have reached the truth, which is not the truth at all, who are you trying to fool? Some people do it that way. (Turkey) I think, any researcher who wants true and valid results needs to be objective. They may have an idea of what they think the results might be, for me the purpose of research is to test and analyse to see if that's true, not to say, I want to prove this, let's see if I can do it, let's do what I can do to prove it they may have an idea what they think but they can't say this is it and let's work backwards from that point to prove it. (Spain) Overall, objectivity emerged in this study as a central characteristic in the way teachers define the quality of research; teachers' comments, as indicated above, highlighted a range of meanings associated with this concept: One teacher also wrote that objectivity is when 'the researcher is distant and detached, but this is quite impossible even in empirical study' (UAE). This was the only comment which reflected critically on the feasibility of 'scientific' objectivity in social science research.
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