Samples Psychology Modes of Enquiry in Psychology

Modes of Enquiry in Psychology

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The intent of Hung, Chou, Chen & Own (2010) was to investigate student readiness for leaning online for purposes of developing and validating a multidimensional instrument for similar investigations. The researchers developed four research questions for exploration which relate to: whether an online learning readiness scale (OLSR) could be developed and validated through confirmatory factor analysis; the meaning of readiness for online learning; whether gender plays a role, and; whether the grade level makes a difference (Hung, et al., 2010). The aims of Reay, Ball & David (2002) were in attempting to better understand both opportunities and constraints confronting mature learners as they attempt to transition into higher education. The researchers were particularly interested in focusing on students who had failed at making the transition. The central question for the researchers stems from prior UK government policy that addressed the need to attract mature learners to university. While initial data showed a spike of mature students entering the ranks of academia, the ensuing years have thus shown a decline. The research enquiry focuses on why the decline has taken place (Reay, et al., 2002).
Hung, et al. (2010) studied five dimensions, termed factors, corresponding with self-directed learning, motivation for learning, computer/internet self-efficacy, online communication self-efficacy, and learner control. They concluded that their OLRS was useful in validating online learner attitudes and behaviors. The OLRS determined that learners ranked above the median in computer/internet self-efficacy, motivation for learning and online communication self-efficacy. However, scores for self-directed learning and learner control ranked lower, indicating a need for college-level instructors to pay considerable more attention with students who are deficient in the two factors (Hung, et al., 2010). The study showed no differences by gender but did identify distinct differences between grade levels, where juniors and seniors were assessed as competent in all factors while freshmen and sophomores shared deficiencies in self-direction and motivation. As the authors report there were several limitations concerning their findings which are in need of further investigation. They question the validity of factors related to computer/internet self-efficacy and learner control. There also appears to be issues related to the sample population, where learner-readiness as it relates to the five factors was not investigated and there was no effort to collect student data for purposes of the OLRS (Hung, et al., 2010).
Reay, et al. (2002) found that various deficiencies in the governmental program that attempted to attract more mature learners to higher education served as barriers to their entry and success. This was particularly true for minority students where it was felt that the program itself was more hyperbolic in nature and did not serve specific needs and concerns. They cite market principals as the underlying culprit, where the mandate for efficiencies when administering education services conflict with the issues faced by this student population. The study seems more useful to policy makers as they consider appropriate methodologies in which to deliver higher education to mature learners. However, the authors make no recommendations as to how this might occur and leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions (Reay, et al., 2002).
Because their OLSR is comprised of various factors, Hung, et al., (2002) include two psychological theories that relate to student motivation and control. Each relates quite well with the OLSR in terms of assessing the validity of each representational factor (learner motivation and learner control). Research methods were constructed in such a way as to determine the validity of each factor and how they relate to research questions. Their methodology was comprised of developing a scale divided into the five factors, assumed to have been divided relatively equally. As is indicated in Brysbaert & Rastle (2012) psychological research studies tend mainly to be empirical and guided by a hypothesis that could potentially be falsified. This is also the basis of the hypothetico-deductive method, and in this particular example the hypothesis relates to the OLRS and whether it could be validated. However, as reported by Hung, et al. (2010) specific factors could not be validated for various reasons, appearing to indicate the need for continued research. Because the authors’ intent was to determine the value of the OLRS the study was guided by this specifically. The issue of validity, especially as this relates to learner control, is in need of further consideration, which is also the case for computer/internet self-efficacy. Until then, the conclusions reached by the authors seem relatively ambitious.
Reay, et al., (2002) seem bent on viewing the issues presented in their study either through a sociological aspect or through systems theory. While qualitative research efforts may, in many cases, lack either theory or a hypothesis (Eysenck, 2009), there appears to be the added dilemma in that the study concludes in a rather terse, political manner. As such, the question arises as to whether the study was actually for research purposes or to merely buttress a position opposing government or free-market approaches to higher education. Hence, the study ultimately lacks focus and when compared to other research that utilizes the induction method, it pales in comparison. For example, the study on obedience conducted by Milgram (1963) is merely guided by the concept of obedience and yet remains focused in intent, methodology and its requisite conclusions. What Reay, et al., (2002) have constructed is a report that gains in volition until reaching a conclusion that is extremely anti-climatic. There is no hypothesis that emerges as it was indicated in Eysenck (2009), only a confirmation of shortcomings. Without a hypothesis or theory grounding the researchers they seemed only on a mission to discredit the government program as it was then devised. It may be that similar studies of this type should either utilize an empirical or mixed-methods approach so that strict parameters can be devised and the opportunity to determine cause-and-effect is done so objectively.

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