QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS…..an approach towards developing a new insight…!

When I started with this course, it was absolutely hazy for me to see the reasons for learning the methods of research.

I was not at all able to connect the reasons to our course. We soon got linked to a government school which was mainly for the students coming from the families below the poverty line. We visited the school a couple of times before we had to choose and finalize our research questions. I chose to research on “Relationships at School”. My research question was framed like this – “What kind of relationships are formed among the students and in between the students and the teachers at school?” I felt that researching relationships was important because it helps in knowing what helps a teacher or a student react in a particular way (negative or positive), how they work together, how they store or share things. All this leads to the formation of a better education system. Also, all this was important for me because I was carrying out this research with a thought of developing a space for carrying out various activities and studies at a school. an

Before going out to the school for observations, we ready the texts from Paulo Freire and Gandhi’s Nai Talim to have a better understanding of the scholl and its traditional way of working and the view points of the different writers.

Every week, we visited the school, met the children, spoke to them and made various observations with the help of our various senses. We observed with eyes, ears, nose, tongue and the brain.

We made the field notes for keeping the observations collectively. After we had a little understanding of the school and its curriculum, we further disaggregated our research questions into various fragments that would lead us to the answer of the main question. These were the sub questions.

We further simplified our research by building mind maps or affinity diagrams that exactly pointed towards those aspects of research that were important for getting the answers to the sub question.

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After coming to the main points of the main question, we built our research plan, which was a document that included the sub-questions, the number of interviews that were to be taken for carrying out our research, the focus groups that were to be performed for getting the answers indirectly from the people of the school.

When we had finally prepared our research plans, we went back to look at the works and studies that have already been performed on the chosen topics. I chose to read – Exploring the bias: Gender and Stereotyping in Secondary Schools by Elspeth Page and Jyothsna Jha, Attachment theory and the teacher-student relationship by Philip Riley and Social Life in School by Peter Blatchford for knowing what had already been said about the relationships at school at various levels.

We further made the interview guides for interviewing the teachers and the students on the key points. We recorded the interview and later prepared the transcripts of all the interviews that were taken for our better understanding of their idea and thoughts.

Finally, when we had all the data in hand – the field notes of various days, the interview transcripts, the readings and their specific points and the data of the focus groups, it was time to analyse the data. It was time to come up with the basic analysis and taking any one observation further so that it adds to the information on that topic.

I analyzed the data and concluded that “Although the students are very friendly among themselves at school, they tend to develop misunderstanding if confronted by their own friends against their wrong actions” and “The student-teacher bond, although formal is very strong but the generation gap between the students and the teachers at school adds to the ambiguity of understanding relations at school“.

I am still thinking about that small point that I can take further and make a statement which adds to the existing theories of relationships at school.

After completing the research, we put up an exhibition at the school where we displayed the key points of observations and conclusions of our research. The management and faculty appreciated our effort and were looking forward to the changes that could be made to improve the school that were shown in our research reports.

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By the end of the course,I was very much capable of answering my own question of ‘What is the importance of research methods and why this course’. I discovered that for carrying out any new discovery, or for building anything new, it is very important to know what has been done already and how do the people and the things around you behave.

The complete methodology of defining the topic and question of interest, then dis-aggregating it for better understanding, then observing the elements related to the sub-topics, reading and viewing existing material, talking and listening to the people’s point of view and finally analysing the data, leads to a new discovery. It struck to me that this is what I was looking forward to do further – to have my own new ideas and methods of design. The process has finally defined the approach to carry on my desire of innovation in design further.