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:
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.
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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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.