Issues in Education

Researching Issues in Education

A reflective essay about your experiences of utilising a self-completion questionnaire


Please present essay following these instructions: (2000 words) +/-200


Delete all the instructions given in red or blue font but …DO NOT HOWEVER DELETE THE TITLES in black




  • You are allowed to use sub headings
  • Do not make paragraphs so short they appear more like bullet points




  • Clear, succinct, coherent expression, error free
  • Spelling and grammar accurate and consistent
  • correct use of punctuation
  • Effective use of topic sentences and linking words to create a flow
  • Students may use the first person, for example I interviewed…I felt … I chose…. However they should ensure that their work does not become too descriptive, informal or conversational.
  • Restrict use of the first person to part two and the conclusion



Reflect on the process of conducting a small scale, research project that utilises a ‘self-completion survey’.


Include within the discussion an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of a ‘self –completion survey’, plus the skills, attributes and resources required. Examine also the suitability of applying a similar process for collecting data from children and young people and how credible any resulting findings might be?





Introduction (Approx. word count 100):

  • Outline what is to follow in your essay
  • Be as brief as possible
  • Try not to repeat words
  • Demonstrate a breadth of vocabulary
  • Try and ‘whet the appetite’ of the reader



Part One: A review of the perceived value of the applied research method according to literature (Approx. word count 400):

You should cover:

  • At least one definition of the research method
  • Identified strengths and opportunities – including how and why this particular tool is often viewed positively and the circumstances where it is believed to work well
  • Recognized weaknesses and threats – including the perceived drawbacks and pitfalls.

You should avoid use of the first person in this section and make numerous references to literature



Part Two:  A review of the skills, attributes and resources required

(Approx. word count 600):

You should cover:

  • What are some of the recognized competences, personality traits and resources that help facilitate the application of the research method?
  • What you learnt from your participation and how you felt?
  • To what extent you feel you have developed the skills and confidence to utilize this research tool in the future?
  • What you (now) consider to be vital ingredients to ensure similar research is conducted professionally?
  • What resources are likely to be needed for you to do so, and how might you prepare or access them?
  • How the skills acquired and developed, in relation to self-management, teamwork and professionalism, might prove beneficial in any future roles and responsibilities in the field of education and beyond?
  • What skills require further development and how might you go about this?


TIP: Most reflective essays benefit from an honest appraisal and awareness of   areas for development. Exaggerated claims of strengths or an impression given of being beyond improvement are often seen as disingenuous or naïve.

You must refer to literature as well as reflecting on your personal experience of conducting your survey. You may also want to refer to your appendices.

*As Part Two, is partly about reflecting upon ‘your ‘journey’, moderate use of the first person is appropriate.*



Part Three:   A reflection on the suitability of applying a similar process for collecting data from children and young people and how credible any resulting findings might be? (Approx. word count 700):


You should cover:

  • Examples of how a similar process has been, or could be, applied to collect data from children and young people on other educational topics?
  • How credible are any findings likely to be and why?
  • How are findings typically processed?
  • An appreciation of issues (and definitions) of reliability, validity and bias
  • To what extent are the views expressed likely to be representative of the wider population and to what degree this might matter?
  • Different perspectives on the value of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ data
  • How the method may or may not be particularly suitable for gathering information from children and young people?
  • What you could do to make the process more accessible to children and or young people?
  • An awareness of some of the risks involved
  • In particular possible behavioral and child protection issues, including the importance of obtaining informed consent and maintaining confidentiality, agreeing ground rules and the right to withdraw, and being aware of children and young people’s vulnerabilities and adults’ safeguarding responsibilities.

*You should avoid use of the first person in this section and continue to make numerous references to literature*


Conclusion (Approx. word count 200):


  • Provide a clear summary of themes addressed in all three parts
  • Indications of when, whether and why you might apply the method in the future
  • Do not include any surprises or references within the conclusion


Reference list:

Should include all items referred to in your assignment

  • Wide ranging (including the core texts)
  • Does not over rely on websites
  • Follows academic conventions (Cite them Right)



  • All students are required to submit an appendix that evidences their engagement with this research process which you may want to make reference to within your essay


For example:

  • Question(naire) design
  • Presentation slides




Core Resources List


Thomas, G. (2013) ‘How to Do Your Research Project: A Guide for Students in Education

and Applied Social Sciences’ Sage


Bell, J. and Waters, S. (2014) Doing Your Research Project: A Guide for First-time

Researchers in Education and Social Science The Open University Press


Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2011) Research Methods in Education, 7th edn.

London: Routledge Falmer. Available as an e-book


Punch, K (2011) Introduction to Research Methods in Education, London: SAGE

Indicative Reading for this Module:


Adler, P. and Adler, P. (1998) ‘Observational Techniques’, in Denzin, N. and Lincoln, Y.

(eds.) Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials, London: Sage.


Bassey, M. (1999) Case Study Research in Educational Settings, Milton Keynes: Open

University Press.


Clifford, J. and Marcus, G. (eds.) (1984) Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of

Ethnography, Berkley: University of California Press.


Costley, C., Elliott, G. & Gibbs, P. (2010) Doing Work Based Research: Approaches to

Enquiry for Insider- Researchers, London: Sage.


Crème, P. and Lea, M. (2003)Writing at University: a Guide for Students. 2nd edn.


Maidenhead: Open University Press.


Epstein, D. (1998) ‘Are you a girl or are you a teacher?’ The ‘Least Adult’ role in Research

about Gender and Sexuality in a Primary School’ in Walford, E. (ed.) Doing Research

about Education, London: Falmer Press.45


Erben, M. (1998) ‘Biography and Research Method’ in Erben, M. (ed.) Biography and

Education: A Reader. London: Falmer Press.


Freeman, M and Mathieson, S. (2009). Researching Children’s Experiences. Surrey: The

Guildford Press.


Hammersley, M. (1998) Reading Ethnographic Research: A Critical Guide. 2nd edn.

London: Longman.


Heath, S, Brooks, R, Cleaver, E and Ireland, E. (2009) Researching Young People’s Lives.

London: Sage


Hitchcock, G. and Hughes, D. (1989) Research and the Teacher: A Qualitative Introduction,

London: Routledge.


Keeves, J. and Lakomski, G. (eds.) (1999) Issues in Educational Research, Oxford:


McDonough, J. and McDonough, S. (1997) Research Methods for English Language

Teachers, London: Arnold


Robson, C. (2002) Real World Research: A Resource for Social Scientists and Practitioner researchers, Oxford: Blackwell.


Shipman, M (ed.) (1985) Educational Research: Principles, Policies and Practices, Lewes:



Wellington, J. (2000) Methods and Issues in Educational Research, London: Continuum


Willis, P. (2000) The Ethnographic Imagination. Oxford: Polity