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Peer Review

Research Methods

by Barbra Bied Sperling


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.33 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Sep 06, 2002 by Teacher Education
Overview: This site provides an introduction to the uses and limitations of five common
empirical research methods ? experimentation, naturalistic observation,
correlation, survey, and the case study - as these are used in the fields of
psychology, sociology, anthropology, geology, and biology. The tutorial gives
students information about the aims, strengths and weaknesses of each method and
practice in identifying examples of each method in a variety of disciplines.
Type of Material: Tutorial
Recommended Uses: The instructor could use this in two different ways: First as an introduction
to research methodologies after discussing the terminology, hypothesis
statements, and subject selection. Second, the instructor could also ask the
student to work through one or more of the methods, and then be prepared to
raise questions, and discover answers during class time.
Technical Requirements: Shockwave plug-in needed to access some features.
Identify Major Learning Goals: Differentiate the 5 basic research methods; identify the strengths of each
method; & identify the limitations of each method.

Target Student Population: This site is for students beginning the study of research. Though the site was
built and used at a community college, it's content and focus could also be used
for students in a four year college program, as well as those beginning a
graduate program. Students in a pre-service teacher education program as well
as in-service teachers could also benefit.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Understanding of and appreciation of educational research to improve teaching
and learning practices.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: This site provides a tutorial for studying the major research designs employed
in educational and other social science research. In a simulated laboratory
student may select one of five disciplines in which to apply each of the
research methodologies. The content is accurate and presented in a very logical
and easy to follow format.

Although the content of the site is designed for disciplines other than
education, the reviewers believe that educators can benefit from this digital
learning site as they begin the use of research methodologies.
Concerns: No emphasis is given to random assignment or selection and its importance,
especially to the logic of the experimental method.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The site provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to
better understand the process of research methods. The use of real life data
applications gives this site validity. The interactive nature of the site is
excellent in that the student can continue to "practice" even after class.
This gives the student confidence. It could be useful in an undergraduate or
graduate-level introductory course, such as educational psychology or adolescent
or child development. This site will help students understand the results of
empirical studies in professional journals or their text and understand that
different methods of investigation yield different types of knowledge. It is
especially useful in courses where students do not need a thorough and advanced
understanding of research methods. The tutorial appears to be based on
measurable objectives with accompanying practice and test items that correspond
to those objectives. Given an acceptable level of performance on the test an
instructor should be confident that the student has the capabilities specified
in the objectives.
Concerns: Examination of the practice and test items suggests that the level of
proficiency to be acquired from the tutorial would be most appropriate for a
student in an introductory course. Such a student needs to understand the
difference in the type of information that one gets an experiment and a case
study but does not need to understand threats to the internal and external
validity of an experiment for example.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The site is easy to navigate and use. Students in control, and can proceed at
their own speed. An explanation of how to use the product is readily available
and noticeable before using it. Students should have little trouble finding
their way around the site or working through the exercises.
Concerns: No major problems but in several places a phrase or title is truncated because
it was too long to fit into the window in which the program is running. This was
more annoying or distracting rather than disruptive of comprehension.

Other Issues and Comments: