Saturday, 21 June 2014

When I think of research...

What insights have you gained about research from taking this course?
Before taking this course the idea of research terrified me. The only idea I had about research stemmed from finding resources as support for written dissertations throughout my undergraduate work. I now understand the importance of research within the early childhood field and have seen some examples of such research and its contributions. I also learned about the many types of research that exists, these include quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods of research.

In what ways have your ideas about the nature of doing research changed?
As mentioned above, before this course I didn't have much experience or understanding with regards to the realm of research. Now I have a deeper understanding of the process (from different methods of collecting data, choosing participants, to laying out a research design) and understand a little bit more about the different types of research that exist. One thing that really shifted in my thinking is the understanding that doing research is often a messy process. I reflected a lot and at times changed my thinking, question and design.

What lessons about planning, designing, and conducting research in early childhood did you learn?
Throughout this course and the research simulation process I learned that first it is important to break a generalized topic into subtopics in order to see if it has enough depth, if it could be stated as a question and if it works in terms of cause and effect to form a hypothesis. I then learned about the importance of ethics in terms of research and the effect it could have on its participants, the general population and the early childhood field as a whole. Another important aspect I learned about when designing the research simulation is validity and reliability and ways to choose data collection methods that would support the study in a way that is valid, just and unbiased.

What were some of the challenges you encountered—and in what ways did you meet them?
I encountered many challenges through the research simulation process. Some of these included my fear that outer factors would influence my study in a way that was not foreseen. I found that I went back and forth throughout this process, reflecting and questioning my ideas and even research question and whether or not it would work and be insightful. I found it difficult because the process wasn't as clean cut and linear as I would have liked. It was messy but I appreciated that we continued to build and move forward with the design from week to week. I liked that I could look to the discussion forums and appreciated that the group members changed frequently. Often my colleagues were asking the same questions, it was great to know that I wasn't alone in my questions and challenges.

What are some of the ways your perceptions of an early childhood professional have been modified as a result of this course?
I have always had a strong appreciation for the work that early childhood professionals do. I did not realize the amount of growth that research can and has caused in terms of understanding and knowledge within our profession. I believe that early childhood professionals are often overlooked and underestimated, perhaps people should look into the world of early childhood research in order to understand its and our importance.

I would like to thank all of my colleagues and Dr. Todd for the past eight weeks of learning and professional growth. It was nice to know that I wasn't alone in the undertaking of this research simulation and that I had my peers behind me, supporting me along the way. Thank you all, and I wish you the best of luck in your future courses and endeavours! 

Friday, 6 June 2014

Research Around the World

For this week’s blog assignment, I decided to explore the link, for the Early Childhood Development Virtual University. The site lists many projects related to the early childhood field that are currently taking place in countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.

What are some of the current international research topics?
I found two research studies that I found particularly fascinating, both of which focused on using local and indigenous stories, teachings and culture to create and supplement an early childhood education curriculum. I also found a research study, looking to provide a developmental framework for orphaned and vulnerable children in Ghana. This topic spoke to me as it is closely linked to my research simulation looking at abandonment and attachment in early childhood education. Although there were many projects listed on the website these are the three that stood out to me the most.

What surprising facts/insights/new ideas about early childhood did you gain from exploring this international early childhood website?
One insight I learned in researching the website is the amount of work that is being dedicated to the early childhood field. This includes support to families and children dealing with HIV and Aids, involving fathers in early childhood care and development, strategies and support to dealing with poverty, to parent training and enrichment. I was truly blown away by the amount of research and studies dedicated to this field.

What other noteworthy information did you find on this website?
Along with all of the research listed above, I also found studies involving nutrition. One study in particular focused on the care and nutrition of two motherless babies.