Synthesis and Evaluation

Originally published here.

This week’s project involved working in a group of three to complete a collaborative video under the title of: Chicken or Egg?
The assignment was quite unusual and challenging as it involved the 3 of us creating different parts of a video and then merging them together. As neither of us had ever had any experience making videos before, it was certainly interesting!
Firstly, we had a discussion to decide what each of us would contribute to the video, and decided on 3 main subjects: Theology, Science and the Cyclical View of Time. 
I took on Theology and the different ideas religion has about whether the chicken came first or the egg. For example, from a creationist’s point of view, (religions such as Christianity) God create all animals in one day. This would include the chicken. Therefore, the chicken came before the egg.

Unfortunately, I had some technical difficulties when attempting to share my video and therefore my part has not been added to the final project. However, making my part of the video itself was useful in helping me become a more interdependent learner as collaborating with strangers and learning to use tools outside of what I would normally refer to has given me the opportunity to explore all areas of learning. 

The final video link is:

Week Four: Reading and Analysis

Originally published here.

This week’s assignment has been especially eye opening in terms of approaching a piece of reading. From taking part in the reading and analysis, I have been able to develop my analytic skills. Phoebe Ayers article on How to Evaluate a Wikipedia Article was especially useful as it taught me some valuable skills when using research from a Wikipedia article in the future and it also helped us to complete our assignment effectively.

Eleanor and I decided to assign a time when we were both available in order to tackle the assignment to ensure it was completed on time. I think this was especially important as collaborative tasks in the past have proven to be difficult due to the fact that the group members were never online at the same time and therefore could not discuss the issue at hand. The paragraphs were distributed fairly between us and we used the discussion section to give our thoughts on the sections and helped each other to add any extra information or to give feedback. The assignment was completed within a reasonable period of time therefore I feel that we worked efficiently together.

Overall, the course has made interdependent learning seem like a more natural and habitual method of learning to me and therefore I feel as if it has helped me in all aspects of learning. E.g. time management, analysis, independent research etc. 

Article Analysis:

Validity and Reliability

Originally published here.

This week has posed a different yet refreshing task to the previous two weeks. It involved evaluating our recent research which helped me to develop skills which I already have and learn how to improve them.
It helped me to acknowledge my mistakes and learn how to improve my collaboration skills in order to be more productive and work more efficiently as a team.

To conduct effective research, you have to consider many different aspects such as both the validity and reliability of the data. You want both of these things to be of a high quality and so I learnt that a lot of things must be first discussed before carrying out the research. Brainstorming proves to be an especially important part of this process as it helps you to cover all aspects of the question in hand so nothing is missed out.

As the halfway point of the course is approached, I feel that the most important progress I have made is to be more attentive and focused when considering a project or a piece of reading. I have learnt there are many things you need to consider before jumping into something such as a collaborative project and in order for it to be completed successfully, you must be willing to make an effort and address the issues surrounding carrying out research.

However, I still feel there is a long way to go for me to truly become an active in(ter)dependent learner so I look forward to the following weeks and what the course has to offer.

Egg Research Critique

Originally published here.

Carrying out the Egg Research as a collaborative group proved to be a challenging task and this in turn, produced many criticisms and faults in our method of approach. The validity of our research was especially questionable.
When referring to validity, there are two types we must consider. External and internal validity. Internal validity refers to the amount of realism the investigation holds ie. in the words of Graham R. Gibbs ‘the evidence found reflects the reality under investigation.’
When taking this definition into consideration, our investigation severely lacked internal validity. To an extent, this was of no fault of the group but just the mere fact that the question was so broad, it was hard to pin it down. ‘What is the best way to cook an egg?’ In our research, we chose to take this to mean what is the HEALTHIEST way to cook an egg. However, through reading others research, a lot of different approaches can be taken to this ie. tastiest way or quickest way. Therefore, as we only chose to go down one line of inquiry when carrying out our research, we effectively ignored all other aspects and approaches to the question which reduces the internal validity and overall realism of the investigation.
On the other hand, external validity refers to the extent to which the results can be generalised to the wider population. Again, our research lacked external validity. A survey was carried out on 17 people of a variety of ages. On one hand, this provided a range of ages which could boost our external validity as it takes all frames of mind into account. However, 17 people is not a sufficient amount to be able to apply the findings to a wider population of people. As Blaxter et al wrote in
Advantages and Disadvantages of Surveys , with a good response rate, surveys can provide a lot of data very quickly. However, our data did not produce a good response rate. Therefore, the lack of response to this questionnaire meant our findings lack external validity as well as reliability as our results are not supported by much evidence. Although this is extremely important, there are also a range of other factors that need to be taken into consideration when talking about external validity other than the number of people involved in a survey. For example, all the people involved live in England and other countries may have extremely different views on what the healthiest ways to cook an egg are. Blaxter et al also said that ‘with an appropriate sample, surveys may at representation and provide generalised results.’ However, our sample was not entirely appropriate if we were to cover all aspects of the research.

From critiquing my own research, I have learnt some valuable skills and lessons. It is always important to thoroughly plan and talk about your research with your fellow collaborators first, before jumping right in. This is because there are several different aspects of the research which need to be addressed. Through this, you should assign different roles to different people in order to make sure everything is done in and everything is indeed covered in time. Every participant should be willing to help this to happen and contribute to getting the research completed in time.

Research and Inquiry

Originally published here.

This week’s assignment has been much trickier and more time consuming than the previous assignment.  However, it is also much more informative and helpful. I learnt that the research process is a lengthy and thoughtful process, with many factors you have to consider before actually carrying out your research or indeed, researching something for yourself. For example, although it is very easy and tempting to conduct research on the Web and take the first answer you find as genuine and truth, this is not always the case. You must consider the reliability of the source and whether the information you are reading is really accurate or true. However, this is not always easy to notice. I have learnt that there are specific websites to be wary of, with a popular choice being Wikipedia. Although the content seems extremely detailed and therefore could easily be mistaken as truth, it must be approached with caution.

As well as this, the type of data received is also important. Data can either be qualitative and quantitative, Qualitative data refers to data in the form of words. This method is concerned with opinions, feelings and experiences. The benefit of this type of data is that data rich in detail can be collected and is usually genuine. However, it is extremely difficult to record.

On the other hand, quantitative data is much simpler and comes in the form of numbers. E.g. used in Questionnaires/for natural sciences. An advantage of this method would be that it can easily be recorded, however the data is not usually very detailed or elaborated.

Both these methods are important in recording data and which method to use when carrying out research should be taken into consideration. Previously, I was not aware that such factors had to be thought about but I have learnt that they are extremely important in determining the course of your research.

The research project for this week posed the question: ‘What is the best way to cook an egg?’
This title proved to be extremely deceiving as it sounds quite simple! However, there were many things that we had to consider before tackling the question. For example, what is the definition of ‘best’? Were we, as a group, going to go down the route of ‘healthiest’ or ‘tastiest’ way as a means of defining ‘best’? These were just a few of the questions we had to take into consideration.

As for the success of our group project, I found it quite difficult to communicate with other team members in regards to the path we were going to take. I found that, working as a team via online sources and not face-to-face, was extremely difficult as it is difficult to be online at the same time as other team members, and some members may not co-operate as much as others. This made getting well under way with the project difficult and we made slow progress. Admittedly, if every member of the team made a conscious effort to help the project get going, I think we would have made much better progress however it was difficult to get a response.
As of yet, the project has not been completed.

I think I was quite effective at collaborating, however due to the lack of response within the group, it was difficult to be online long enough to get things going and truly find out whether I was good at collaborating. However, I think I could have helped push things by assigning roles to different people earlier on in the project and so made sure every member had an active role in completing our assignment earlier and more effectively.