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H809: Activity 2.4: Wegerif & Mercer 1997

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Wegerif, R. & Mercer, N. (1997) 'Using Computer-based Text Analysis to Integrate Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Research on Collaborative Learning'. Language and Education, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 271-286

Questions: What research questions are being addressed?

Can computer-based text analysis can overcome weaknesses of either quantitative or qualitative methods alone?

Illustrated by previously published research that addressed the question of whether a coaching intervention programme improved group problem solving abilities

Setting: What is the sector and setting? (e.g. school, higher education, training, informal learning)
Primary school

Concepts: What theories, concepts and key terms are being used?

Key terms: quantitative, qualitative, concrete, abstract, discourse analysis, concordance

Methods: What methods of data collection and analysis are used? (e.g. the number of participants; the type of technologies; the use of interviews, surveys, observation, etc.)

Main question addressed by using literature review and illustrated by use of previous research work.

Eight lessons coaching exploratory talk
Nine groups of three children aged 9-10yrs
pre and post-intervention evaluation of problem solving: group reasoning test and analysis of video talk
Control: same age children in neighbouring school (5 groups)
All increased but sig diff between control and test groups

Key word in context analysis - Qualitative analysis suggested key words such as cos/because. These used in quantitative analysis by !KwicTex.

Findings: What did this research find out?

Using computer-based transcript  analysis  to help combine qualitative and quantitative methods in the study of collaborative learning can produce an overall interpretation which is more convincing than either qualitative or quantitative  accounts  can  be  if  used  alone.

Limitations: What are the limitations of the methods used?

Using a coding system for qualitative data is regarded as quantitative - surely this is a mixed method as it uses researcher judgement on what and how to code? So it is actually a comparison of qualitative and mixed methods.

P281 - results are reported factually in most cases: 'Graham sees that she is right' - surely this is an assumption?
[John's] silence implies tacit agreement - does it or is he just fed up? May be able to see this from the video but reported here as a fact.

Were they the same tasks? It seems to suggest that they were and so this was a second attempt at the task with a group that were used to working together whilst the intervention was taking place. How were the control group formulated? Were they used to working together?

Who performed the research? One class teacher working across two schools will be known by one group but not the other; presume this may be the intervention group so having a strange person administer test may affect the discussion in the control group and thus results. Independent researcher would also become better known to intervention group with similar affect on the discussions.

How were the groups selected? Did they include all members of a class? Were they inclusive? Young children often have problems coping with group members with impairments such as deafness, blindness, Asperger Syndrome and slow speech. This may affect the results and is not reported, although the full report of this project is reported elsewhere and referred to in the paper. If

Ethics: Are there any ethical issues associated with the research?

Working with vulnerable group - researchers would need enhanced CRB check

Do parents need to be consulted?

Will the intervention give the teaching group an unfair advantage (if it works) over the rest of the year group?

Will the group miss out from other work by being separated from the year group during the intervention and tests?

Implications: What are the implications (if any) for practice, policy or further research?

The paper suggests benefits of using a combined approach for the research of talk and collaborative activity and illustrates one method of such an integrated approach. It is possible to expand these ideas to consider the use of such an integrated approach in other forms of discourse analysis.



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