A Sample Theoretical Framework : Input-Process-Output Model
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Methodologies are outlooks on research; they set out an image for what research is and how it should be carried out. Basically, axioms and methods are connected to each other. Methods are tools or techniques of gathering of data, techniques of analysis, and techniques of writing. Since it is a tool, then a scrupulous method can often be used by many different methodologies (both qualitative and quantitative). Therefore, methodologies are at a more abstract (or general) level than are methods. Apparently, www.encyclopedia.com defined ‘methodology’ as a strategy or plan for achieving some goal. In contrast to this, methods are the tactics that can be used to service the goals of the methodology. In essence, methodologies provide the blueprints that prescribe how the tools should be used. Those prescriptions can be traced to the axioms -- beliefs about how research should be conducted.
According to Saunders, Mark; Lewis, Philip & Thornhill, Adrian (2004), all research will possibly involve categorical or numerical data or data that can be use for analysis to help the researcher answer the research questions. In connection to this, Saunders, Mark; Lewis, Philip & Thornhill, Adrian (2004; p.327) defined quantitative as a type of empirical knowledge. Actually, qualitative data are described in expressions of quality. Qualitative is the converse of quantitative, which more precisely describes data in terms of quantity (that is, using 'formal' numerical measurement).
In connection to this, this chapter will discuss the research design, significance of the study, conceptual framework, participants & the methods course, data sources, historical thinking skills, data collection, data analysis, validation of the data, ethical consideration and summary of the chapter.
The Research Design
In order to come up with the most suitable research approaches and strategies for this study, the research process “onion” is undertaken. This is because conducting a research is like peeling the back layers of an onion—in order to come to the central issue of how to collect the necessary data needed to answer the research questions and objectives, important layers should be first peeled away. With the said process, the researcher was able to create an outline on what measures are most appropriate to be applied in the study.
Saunders et al (2004) said that while it is not unusual for a researcher to first think of his research undertaking by considering whether one should, for instance, administer a questionnaire or conduct interviews, thoughts on this question should belong to the centre of the research ‘onion’. That is, in order to come to the central issue of how to collect the data needed to answer one’s research questions, there are important layers of the onion that need to be peeled away: the first layer raises the question of the research philosophy to adopt, the second considers the subject of research approach that flows from the research philosophy, the third examines the research strategy most applicable, the fourth layer refers to the time horizon a researcher applies to his research, and the fifth layer is the data collection methods to be used.
Figure 1 shows how the researcher conceptualised the research approach to be applied in this study by Saunder, Lewis, and Thornhill (2003), in order to come up with the pertinent data needed to answer the research questions stated in the first chapter, as well as to arrive to the fulfilment of this research undertaking’s objectives.
As shown in Figure 1, the research philosophy that is reflected in this study is positivism. With this research philosophy, a researcher prefers to work with an observable social reality in order to come up with law-like generalisations similar to those produced by the physical and natural scientists (Remenyi et al, 1998), and in this tradition, the researcher becomes an objective analyst, coolly making detached interpretations about those data that have been collected in an apparently value-free manner (Saunders et al, 2004).
Meanwhile, the second layer shows that this study has undertaken a deductive approach. Accordingly, this approach has five sequential stages: deducing a hypothesis; expressing the hypothesis in operational terms; testing this operational hypothesis; examining the specific outcome of the inquiry to either confirm the theory or indicate the need for its modification; and finally, modifying the theory in the light of the findings (if necessary) (Robson, 1993, p. 19).
Significance of the study
In recent years, historians and history educators have concluded that historical literacy requires children in grades four through twelve learn and refine historical thinking skills (National Standards for History in School, 1996; National Council for the Social Studies Standards, 1994). Therefore, young people in high school history classes should become increasingly adept at analyzing and interpreting primary sources such as diaries, old photographs, government documents, and other artifacts from the past. Furthermore, students should demonstrate increased historical literacy. They should be able to compose more refined and coherent narratives of what happened and why. To demonstrate historical literacy, students must also be able to properly cite evidence on which they base their historical narratives and interpretations. The requirement of documenting claims about the past, in part, distinguishes historical literacy from other kinds of literacy skills.
History teachers could help students improve the above skills by helping students comprehend broad historical themes. They could help them to weave historical materials from various historical sources into coherent historical narratives (Fehn & Koeppen, 1998). This could be done because effective history teachers have a deep understanding of how historians investigate and reconstruct the past and understand that historical knowledge is always open to revision and interpretation (Yeager & Davis, 1994; Wineburg, 1991, 2001). These teachers are comfortable with the ambiguity of conflicting evidence and are aware of the sources of bias in historical documents. History teachers who possessed a deep understanding of history and the historiograghic principles are the ones who will become successful teachers of history (National Standards for History in the Schools 1996).
This study joined the lines of research that have investigated the nature of historical thinking skills among professional historians, secondary social studies teachers, elementary school teachers, high school students and elementary school students (Yeager & Wilson, 1997; Fehn & Koeppen 1998; Wunder, 2002; Wineburg, 1991 & 2001.) It explores the historical thinking skills of pre service teachers so far neglected by previous researchers (Wunder, 2002; Seixas, 1998). In order to do so, this study investigated the historical thinking skills exhibited by five would-be history teachers in a, mid western public university in the United States and how they planned their teaching strategies to teach the thinking skills. This study shed some understanding on the similarities and differences between these individuals. This study managed to identify, describe and compare the historical thinking skills of the participants and described and analyzed the instructional strategies that they utilized to teach historical thinking skills.
The theoretical framework that will be used in the study is the Input-Process-Output Model. In the IPO model, a process is viewed as a series of boxes (processing elements) connected by inputs and outputs. Information or material objects flow through a series of tasks or activities based on a set of rules or decision points. (Harris & Taylor, 1997) Flow charts and process diagrams are often used to represent the process. (Harris & Taylor, 1997) What goes in is the input; what causes the change is the process; what comes out is the output. (Armstrong, 2001) Figure 1.1 illustrates the basic IPO model:
The IPO model will provide the general structure and guide for the direction of the study. Substituting the variables of this study on the IPO model, the researcher came up with the following:
Participants and The Methods Course
The researcher enlisted five would be secondary education social studies teachers in a mid western public university in the United States. The participants were going through the social studies methods course when they were enlisted, and they volunteered to take part in this study.
The data sources consisted of five historical documents and the lesson plans that were developed by the participants.
Historical Thinking Skills
To elicit and detect historical thinking skills, the researcher presented the participants with five different categories of historical documents. They depicted an overarching theme of slavery. Those documents were:
a. an etching from the 1700s illustrating a coffle of slaves in Africa marching under guard towards the sea,
b. a painting of the “Amistad” depicting a slave revolt at sea (based upon an actual event),
c. an excerpt from the 1852 Alabama Slave Code,
d. a letter from James Henry Hammond, and
e. a photograph of armed African American in the Union army uniform in front of a barrack.
The documents were selected to simulate a professional historian’s task of weaving together a coherent historical narrative from a mix of historical sources: a painting, an etching, a photograph, a letter, and printed documents. This mix of historical materials offered the participants opportunities to interpret non-written materials as well as written materials. Both type of materials are essential in elucidating historical thinking abilities (Wineburg, 2001 and Levstik & Barton, 2001).
The task given to the participants potentially enabled inter-textual comparisons between historical sources. On the back of each source was printed the author of the source and the date it was produced. If the respondents checked the date and source of the document, they would exhibit their historical heuristic skills which is to evaluate the attribution of the source, assess the author’s stance and its truthfulness by examining the date and source of the documents, relate it to the historical background that represents that period, and assess the truth of the author’s biases and intentions (Wineburg, 1991).
The five historical sources provided the participants the chance to reconstruct a rich portrait of slavery in the United States. Each of the five selected historical sources for this study was chosen for specific reasons:
- Slave coffle (1700). This etching is an indication that slavery was a terrible system of exploitation. Together with the other sources, the etching could suggest an overarching theme of exploitation and oppression that the respondent could narrate in their story. This generalization would cohere with the respondent’s previous understanding about slavery (Fehn, et.al.1997). The etching, through the subtext, also could direct the participant’s attention to the fact that Africans were implicated in the enslavement of other Africans, portraying a complex view of slavery. It shows that slavery happened everywhere and the researcher intends to discern whether the participants will include these notions in their narratives. Furthermore, the researcher wanted to detect if the participants evaluate etching as more or less reliable historical evidence than other types of historical sources, thus displaying their sourcing heuristic skills described above.
- Amistad (1841). The painting was selected to see whether the participants are aware that slaves rebelled violently against their captors. The painting should motivate the participants to explore the theme of slave resistance and detect whether they can weave the theme of resistance into a more complex history of slavery. The Armistad tested the sourcing heuristic skills of the participants by inviting them to ponder its validity since it was painted more than a hundred years after the actual rebellion (Fehn, et. Al. 1997).
- Alabama Slave Code (1852). The excerpts from the code gave the opportunity to the participants to form diverse possibilities of interpretations and to an overarching theme of a legally sanctioned and rigid system of slave control. The code provided specific evidence portraying restricted lives experienced by the slaves. This document allowed the participants to identify a “subtext” an inference that slaves tended to rebel or flee for their freedom.
- James Hammond’s Letter. James Hammond’s Letter provided the participants the opportunity to analyze the thoughts of a slave owner justifying slavery to an English abolitionist staying in England. The researcher could detect whether the participants provided valid interpretations about the thoughts of the slave owner in the context of the period the letter was written, particularly with regards to the other sources that were presented to them. With hope, the participants will evaluated the letter in terms of its reliability as a historical source (Fehn, et.al. 1997).
- African-American Soldiers (1864). A photograph of Civil War soldiers will be included to elucidate the theme of resistance in the narrative of the respondents. The researcher wanted to know if the respondents could weave a narration from the photo to include discussions about the slaves’ participation in their own liberation through armed struggle. The researcher also wanted to see if the participants regarded photograph as a reliable historical event.
Lesson Plan. On the other hand, the lesson plan of the participants was chosen to identify the ability of the participants to develop effective lessons for teaching historical thinking skills. Each participant was required to develop a lesson plan using primary sources as part of the course requirement. The teachers’ lesson plans were collected and photocopied as a data source for this study since the purpose of this study is also to describe the instructional strategies that the participants developed. The content of the lesson plans were viewed, analyzed, and coded for characteristics of an effective history lesson.
Furthermore, lesson plans were chosen to analyze effective history teaching strategies because lesson plans revealed information such as teacher activities and how they communicated with the students. Generally an effective lesson plan has an introduction, body, opportunity for questions, and summary. These components are bound together with time cues, media cues and practice (Toney, 1991).
According to Cramer, R. & Schwartz, R., (1989), lesson planning can be divided into three types; content, process, and context. Each type helps to organize classroom activities, and together they establish the ambiance of the learners’ learning process. Content plans focus on information students should know. Instructional strategies designed to introduce or elaborate the content should be included in the plan.
Apparently, process plans help student learn how to perform cognitive skills or procedures. Process skills include procedural knowledge that supports independent learning. Context plans set the larger framework in which content and process lessons occur. Context plan can include decisions about grouping, discipline, and grading. The lesson planner can develop process lesson plans in six steps: a) decide what process would improve student performance, b) help student understand the purpose of the lesson, c) help students connect prior knowledge to process new information, d) break instruction into incremental steps to help students develop their performance theory, e) provide meaningful practice in the process, f) extend the lesson by making applications to other areas (Cramer &Schwartz, 1989). Well structured content plans and process plans will help insure that all students make progress in acquiring the knowledge and skills set by the lesson objectives (Cramer, & Schwartz, 1989).
For the face-to-face interview part, open-ended questions will be used to obtain as much information as possible about how the interviewees feel about the research topic. The researcher will interview 5 purposively selected individuals.
The researcher will design a semi-structured interview. Using this type of interview enables the researcher/interviewer probe deeper on the issues of biracial identity development. Unlike structured interviews which are standardised and do not allow the interviewer to deviate from the questions (Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill, 2004), this type of interview does not limit response of the interviewees.
Open questioning, in addition, will help me explore the topic and produce a fuller account. In this case, interviewees are encouraged to clarify vague statements and to further elaborate on brief comments. The researcher will not also share her own beliefs and opinions so as not to influence the answer of the interviewee. Importantly, the researcher will avoid leading questions and showing personal bias as these may result to interviewee or response bias (Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill, 2004).
In the face-to-face interview, the distribution and collation methods that will be used to manage the process will ensure anonymity. A cover letter will explain to them what the research is all about and how the researcher intends to regard the survey with high confidentiality. The results from the interview will be given in question and answer format. Moreover, content analysis will be drawn from the interviews to identify the development of biracial identity.
Actually, the best way to understand a respondent’s past experience, thoughts, and attitudes are through interviews and document analysis (Guba & Lincoln, (1981). Data was gathered and recorded through one 30 minute semi-structured interview session with each participant. Semi-structured interviews allow for flexibility, therefore obtaining optimum information regarding a topic from the participant, and they are more likely than other forms of inquiry to provide a complete picture (Guba and Lincoln, 1981). The recorded interviews were transcribed by the researcher and the content was analyzed for the presence of historical thinking skills. The member check procedure was used to validate the accuracy. The participants were given the transcript to confirm the authenticity of its content. The interview began with a warm up phase to familiarize the participants with the exercise. The participants were shown the photograph of a slave with horrendous whipping scars on his back and were asked questions about this photograph stands out to you? What grabs your attention?” These questions elicited from the respondents what they considered the central elements that provide an overarching theme for the documents or sources. Then they were asked, “What does the photograph convey to you about slavery? What was slavery like?” These questions guided the respondents to initiate reconstruction of historical narratives with regard to slavery. Then the participants’ attention was directed towards the reverse side of the photograph that was printed with the photograph’s title, the person who took it and when it was taken. This procedure encouraged them to exhibit their sourcing heuristic capability. The warm up phase usually lasted about five minutes.
After the warm-up session, the participants were presented with the five historical sources mentioned before. The participants were instructed to examine the five sources and were asked the same questions as during the warm-up session. Following that, the participants were asked to tell a narrative that tied all the sources together while emphasizing that there is no right or wrong answers. The participants were encouraged to take notes and make an outline of the narrative. The participants were allowed to refer to their notes while voicing their narratives to the researcher but none of them did. After examining the sources, the participants shared their narratives with the researcher without any interruption.
Then, the participants were asked to identify the most important source for their narrative and the reasons they considered the source importance. Subsequently, the participant’s historical heuristic ability was assessed by asking the following questions: “Which documents are the best ones for writing an accurate history of slavery? Which document is the best source of information? Which is the least reliable source of information?” This phase lasted for about 15 minutes.
Throughout each session, the researcher acted as a naïve listener and accepting anything the participants said and declining to interpret any responses. The researcher from time to time however offered clarification or prodded the participants to elaborate on a comment or observation they had made.
The lesson plans that the participants developed were collected over duration of the course and analyzed to detect characteristics of effective history teaching.
The qualitative method of data analysis utilized in this study consist of making sense of raw data by identifying sign posts that determine the presence of characteristics of historical thinking skills and effective teaching strategies to teach those skills. The content was analyzed in order to make sense out of a phenomenon. In this study the phenomenon was historical thinking skills and effective teaching strategies to teach these skills. The data allowed the researcher to describe historical thinking skills and effective teaching strategies after analyzing interview transcripts and the lesson plans. These characteristics were explicitly analyzed to detect sign posts of historical thinking skills and of effective teaching strategies.
Basically, Mays & Pope, (2000) believes that qualitative research uses explanatory methods in describing the variables wherein the data, situations, or other facts collected will be explained or correlated with other data. According to them qualitative research methods are useful when conducting a study wherein the data are immeasurable, such as feelings, beliefs, thoughts, and others.
Moreover, Yin (1984) stated that qualitative methods is important to management analysis, organisation studies and even to business development since it assist the researchers who desire to understand complex social phenomena. They are appropriate when seeking knowledge about the fundamental characteristics of a phenomenon being studied before theorising about it. This knowledge often surfaces through close contact with subjects of a study, allowing the researcher to understand their points of view about and experiences with the phenomenon.
Researchers even disagree on the definition of "qualitative." For example, some researchers use terms such as naturalistic and descriptive, as well as field, product, and case study. Perhaps the best way to clear up some of the confusion about qualitative research is to examine some its most accepted methodologies and characteristics.
On the other hand, Wolcott (1992) proposes that there are but three general types of data-gathering techniques in qualitative studies: experiencing, enquiring, and examining. These three techniques are used, Wolcott argues, in such diverse qualitative approaches as case studies, non-participant observed studies, interviews, participant observation, phenomenology, ethnomethodology, enography, and ethnology. As Wolcott (1992) notes, most qualitative research is based on a case study that uses one or several of these qualitative techniques, enabling researchers to immerse themselves within a culture or a context and producing questions to pursue for further research and understanding of phenomena.
As an extension of the qualitative technique of interviewing, Byers and Wolcott, H. F. (1992) proposed that focus groups offer researchers a rich source in which to gather genuine information about participants' perceptions, experiences, and attitudes which provide a basis from which to build theory. Another variation of interviewing techniques proposed by Martin and Chaney (1992) is the Delphi technique, which can be valuable in gathering data on a subject from a panel of experts.
In connection to this, the collected and analyzed data were checked for accuracy by a social studies professor who teaches social studies methods course. He was selected because of his knowledge and familiarity with conducting similar research on a similar topic and similarity in reporting such research. This expertise is necessary so that he is able conduct an informal examination of the data. The expert examined the raw data, transcripts, data that have been coded and analyzed, and reconstructed and synthesized items.
For this study, a participant was considered to exhibit interpretive skills if he or she focused on aspects of a historical source in deriving meanings about slavery or slave owners. As part of the analysis, the participants were assessed for whether or not they provided elaborate or circumscribed interpretations of the sources. Numerous possible interpretations and detailed analysis of the sources indicated a higher level of interpretation skill (Wineburg, 1991, 2001; Fehn, 1997).
The researcher also checked the ability of the participants to recognize overarching themes or generalizations to provide a coherent relationship among the sources. The participants’ ability to construct a sophisticated narrative, such as the ability to weave the themes of oppression and resistance in their narrative, was also assessed. The researcher assessed if and how the participant used all or a few of the sources as authentic evidence in support of his or her generalization or theme. Finally the researcher analyzed interview transcripts to determine the usage of historical heuristic as the participants narrated their stories. Historical heuristic is the ability of the participants to critically evaluate and distinguish between a more reliable source and less reliable source with substantive arguments or reasons (Wineburg, 1991, 2001 ; Fehn, 1997). The researcher compared the similarities and differences between the participants because the individual differences affect an individual teacher’s perception of historical thinking and learning (Larsson, 1998).
In identifying effective teaching strategies for teaching historical thinking skills the researcher analyzed and evaluated the lesson plan based on three principles derived from the literature review on chapter three with regard to teaching and learning history. The principles are; (a) history is interpretive and is explained through narratives; (b) learning history is through in depth understanding; (c) history is learned through disciplined inquiry.
History is interpretive and is explained through narratives suggested that a single historical account is not entirely objective. The historical events were over and cannot be directly observed. The only way to find out what happened is through using primary sources and artifacts which students can interpret and develop into narratives of what might have happened. In other words, an effective history lesson should utilize historical documents and artifacts that are relevant to the topic and objectives of the lesson.
Learning history through in depth understanding means that students should know how to interpret history and write narratives about history. Just knowing historical facts such as dates, events, and people does not mean greater historical understanding. To attain in depth understanding, teachers should use teaching strategies that help students to organize ideas and engage them in sustained activities so they have enough time to understand and reflect on the meaning and significance of what they are studying. This could be achieved by encouraging students to interrogate the primary sources, collecting data, questioning, interpreting, explaining, developing historical narratives and organizing a community of critical learners
History learned through discipline inquiry means that students should learn history through a process of systematic inquiry that is specifically historical. They should be taught the historian’s craft of interrogating primary sources. They have to learn how to evaluate sources, how to reconcile and explain conflicting accounts, and how to properly narrate their own account of historical events.
In conclusion, this chapter provides the explanation on the methodical procedures that the researcher followed to collect, analyze and validate the data for this study. The findings, conclusions, and recommendations of this study were derived from the guidelines presented in this chapter for the purpose of producing a responsible and thrust worthy research findings.
Validation of the Data
According to Stewart and Kamins (1993), the use of secondary data is advantageous for a researcher since one can already evaluate the suitability of a data as it is already in existence, thus, much time can be saved. Needless to say, an evaluation of potential secondary data is very important before one incorporates it in his/her study.
In this study, the researcher adopted the three-stage process devised by Saunders et al (2004, p. 205):
The first stage is assessing the overall suitability of data to research questions and objectives. During this stage, the researcher paid particular attention to measurement validity (measuring / estimating whether the secondary data will result to a valid answer to the research questions and objectives) and coverage (this includes ensuring whether or not the data is wanted and can be included, as well as making sure that sufficient data remain for analyses to be undertaken once unwanted data have been excluded).
The second stage is evaluating precisely the suitability of data for analyses needed to answer and meet the research questions and objectives. In this stage, the researcher made sure of the validity and reliability of the secondary data by assessing how it was previously gathered, who are its sources, and the likes. Also, the researcher was cautious not to commit measurement bias (which can occur due to deliberate distortion of data or changes in the way data are collected) had been paid close attention.
Finally, the researcher judged whether to use data based on an assessment of costs and benefits in comparison with alternative sources.
The data generated will be used solely to understand the development of teaching and learning theories. The researcher is solely responsible for conducting the whole research process and shall abide all the policies regarding the organization as well as the university. The data will not be transferable for any means in person or organization. The research is being done according to the guidelines and rules and regulations of the university. The researcher does not belong to any professional bodies to share the outcome of the research results. The four stages of ethics in doing research are followed by the way of a good design, modes of data collection, analysis of data and for proper dissemination. Both confidentiality and anonymity will be maintained of the informants who have participated or shared information in the research. There will be no Coercion or force to take advantage from the informants. Full voluntary guarantee will be taken from the informants. Due consideration and approval will be taken from the organization which is being studied. Prior objectives and motive of the research will be intimated. There shall be no misrepresentation or misuse of the data collected from the organization. Strict confidentiality shall be maintained. Finally, the university for dissemination of academic purposes might take the data collected.
As stated in this chapter, the researcher will undergo stages. In the research design, the researcher will collect secondary data and will formulate and develop an interview. In this stage, this instrument will be subjected to approval and validation. During the data collection, the researcher will collate and summarize the data obtained from the literatures and survey. The researcher will then analyze these data and from these, findings and recommendations will be presented.
In summary, the researcher will have taken four major phases to complete the study.
Phase 1: Problem Identification for Research
In the first phase, the researcher identifies the specific focus of the problem to be researched. This involves reviewing existing theory, research, and practices from professional literature. This process helps me integrate theoretical perspectives and empirical findings with my own understanding of the problem, and discern the aspect of the problem the researcher want to research and learn more about.
Phase 2: Administration of the Instrument
After reviewing literature, the researcher formulates questions for the survey and makes a set of guide questionnaires for the interview. These are then presented to the advisor for validation purposes.
Phase 3: Data Collection and Analysis
In the third phase, the researcher will collect and analyse data for the purposes of identifying critical variables specific to their setting. These data will enable me to achieve a specific understanding of the problem.
Phase 4: Data Synthesis and Generation of Recommendations
In the fourth phase, the researcher will synthesise findings from the previous phases and relevant previous research. The focus of this stage is to synthesise these data to modify existing hypotheses and account for different factors, as well as generating recommendations based on new understandings. During this phase, research-based, culture-specific recommendations for action will be generated.