Week Three: Reflection

Originally published here.

I believe that the importance of this weeks task is more so than the previous weeks as being able to see and give constructive criticism to one’s own work is such a vital skill. This week there was a lot of applying knowledge of terms such as validity and reliability in order to effectively evaluate research. Firstly, you had to differentiate the two terms and their meaning. In terms of validity, there is internal validity, that may include how well extraneous variables that may affect the outcome are controlled and also external validity, which is to how far can you generalise your findings and results to other people beyond the original investigation. In order to have ‘valid’ results you must be certain that the findings directly support your conclusion and for instance in other general research, that you can establish a cause and effect. Reliability is if we or others repeated an experiment will the outcome or results be the same. During this week I have learnt to consider that although a study may have to some extent reliable results, it does not automatically mean that the results are also valid.
This week has helped to to see studies in a critical way and help me notice the flaws in the study that should be adjusted to enhance the quality of the research. However I realise if we take for example validity, if we tried to increase the external validity, this most likely would be at the cost of control and so internal validity would be lower. I think being able to recognise these issues before conduction research and then identifying them along the way is a key skill to have in order to be able to find effective methods to overcome and obtain the best set of results posible in a study.
All in all, so far I believe this course has really helped me to expand my thinking in this area and helped me develop key fundamental skills that I will undoubtedly need to hone in the future. It has helped me think deeper into information that I am given and it has helped me with skills that I can apply to subjects I am currently studying such as pyschology and helped me with giving more sophisticated evaluation of studies. I think the skills developed on the course will certainly be of use in order to become a better independent learner in the future.