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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Being critical in a positive sense?

Contact Malcolm
The address for the Researchit blog

Here’s the Student Feedback Survey for the Research Project:

The Evaluation of the Research Project and being critical

For the evaluation you must present the evaluation in written form; it can include visual material such as photographs and diagrams integrated into the written text . It needs to be a written assessment of a maximum of 1500 words (excluding the written summary). 
On the Moodle there is a document which gives you headings to guide the writing of the Evaluation and a Powerpoint which provides all the information you need on this final assessment piece.

Now that some of you are at this stage it is worth considering some information on being critical to guide your discussion on the use of the sources you used in your research project. 

Being critical may be defined as a challenging approach to the reliability, usefulness and bias of a source. It involves the questioning and challenging of the attitudes, values and beliefs that lie beneath the surface of a written source (Internet, pamphlet, book etc) or person/s interviewed or surveyed.

To be critical is often associated with being negative or finding fault unreasonably but I would like us to view being critical as:
  • careful or analytical evaluations 
  • skillful judgement as to the truth or merit of something.
An ability of a person to be critical is sometimes referred to as a type of literacy (literacy meaning an 'ability to'). 

In the case of your research when looking at websites, reading written materials, listening to your interviewee and reviewing your survey data I am sure you regularly asked questions like:

  • Who has presented this information?
  • How much of it is fact and how much opinion?
  • Is the information biased?
  • Whose point of view is missing?
  • Is this an ‘expert’ opinion?
  • How objective is this information?
  • How do the opinions reflected in this information compare to that of other social groups?
  • What are the values and attitudes implicit in this information?
  • How are the opinions in this information likely to make some people feel?
  • Are the opinions in this material likely to cause ‘injury’ to others? Is the writer using stereotypes to describe a social group
To ask these questions is to be critical in the positive evaluative way.  It is such questioning and challenging of your research that should appear throughout your evaluation document.   
I would also like to read the words credibility and bias in your evaluation discussion when referring to sources.
Credibility being something that is credible and is worthy of being believed because it has a high degree of accuracy. Some sources of information are more creditable than others. Newspapers and magazines vary greatly in their credibility as do television programs and the Internet.  No source can be totally creditable; each has a degree of credibility which must be acknowledged and discussed to explain how it effects the conclusions.

Bias being the misrepresentation of information to create a distorted view that could create opinions that are not credible. Much of the information we receive is biased in some way. Taking a particular point of view and disregarding all other perspectives is a form of bias as is leaving parts of information out of discussions. It is always important to identify whose point of view is not represented, and why it is not presented in any information that you have.

Please do not be fearful of being critical of your research

The moderators will not think less of your work if you have been critical (in the positive sense) of your process and research (but don't expose too may inadequacies - just challenge the veracity of the data and processes you used).  They will see that you have effectively evaluated your research and deserve to be rewarded as a deep and evaluative thinker.  Use the words and ask the questions.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Putting the jig-saw together

Contact Malcolm at

The address for the Researchit blog

End of semester hand-ups

Semester 1 Resulters

As mentioned in a previous posting those students resulting this semester are to hand up all their work by the end of Week 6  . However due to some changes in SACE 'pick-ups', we now have a little more time.  Here are the new deadlines:
  • Folio's by the end of this Week: 1 June.
  • Outcomes by Wednesday 13 June.
  • Evaluations 19 June at the latest. 
***Please note that no editing can go on after these deadline due dates***

Both the Folio and Outcome must be in hard copy (printed) to me for submission to the SACE Board. The final Evaluation must be in electronic form for uploading to the SACE Board on 21 June.

Attention to detail at this late stage is really important to ensure the best grade possible for your research project.

Semester 1 Non Resulters - resulting in Semester 2

For students who do not plan to result this semester, you should still be trying to get the Folio (and a draft outcome if possible) completed and to me by the end of Week 9 of the Semester so that you have a sound launching pad for next Semester.  You will only need to do your Outcome and Evaluation to complete the course.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Semester 1 and Semester 2 resulters

Contact Malcolm at

The address for the Researchit blog

Resulting we will go!

At the beginning of this semester we were hoping that all of you will complete the Research Project and "result" with SACE this Semester. That is, we forward a SACE Grade for you to the SACE Board.  We are really pleased that we have a core of the class which has or is close to completing the Folio for submission next Tuesday.  However we have a group of students who have not completed their research and as a result have not got a Folio completed. At this stage of the semester we are recommending that these students "result" next semester and continue into Semester 2 with the Research Project as a subject on their timetable.  This is preferred to resulting with a fail or poor grade this semester (cannot result higher if resulted again). 

The continuing students, resulting in Semester 2 will be timetabled to continue the Research Project next Semester. They will be able to continue on the same topic and hopefully will not take the full semester to complete.  If you have reached a dead-end with your research you can change your topic if you wish. 

Those students resulting next semester should continue to work on the Research Project this semester to get as much done as possible by the end of term.  This will leave them with less work to do next semester to complete the course.

To help this process we are going to split the class into the Semester 1 and Semester 2 resulters. 
  • The Semester 1 resulters will be busy completing their outcome and evaluation.
  • The Semester 2 resulters will be completing their Folio and hopefully be on the way to completing their outcome before the end of term.

    This week please consider which one you are:  a Semester 1 resulter of Semester 2 resulter.

    If you decide to be a Semester 1 resulter and you are behind, then you will have to work very hard over the next 3 weeks to complete the course satisfactorily.

    Monday, May 7, 2012

    The Outcome

    Contact Emma and Malcolm at

    The address for the Researchit blog

    The Outcome as a product

    The core component of the Research Project course is the Outcome which is worth 30%. 

    The Outcome is the product you produce as a result of your research.  The Outcomes in our class are mainly reports on an issue investigated.  I have developed a Report Format which I would like you to use when you hand up the Report Outcome, as I have called it. For many of you this outcome is the end point of a lot of hard work and hopefully interesting research.  You should have come up with answers/conclusions and recommendations in relation to your issue. 

    For those who are making something as your outcome, I suggest that it would be useful to provide an abbreviated report to go with your 'thing' that you have produced as your outcome.

    The report format includes the following sections:

    1. Contents
    2. Research Method (primary and /or secondary research conducted)
    3. Analysis (of focus question)
    4. Conclusion (overall findings, brief evaluation of research and recommendations)
    5. Bibliography

    *** Attachments***

    *** Remember to use footnotes through your report referencing the sources and attachments where necessary.

    The attached handout gives more information on how I would like the Report Outcome to be written as sections and the format it should be.

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    The Folio of your research

    Contact Malcolm at

    The address for the Researchit blog

    Thanks everyone for some great discussion sessions during the last two lessons.  They really helped to make sure everyone knows what is going on. As well as conducting your research and possibly commencing writing your report outcome, you should be well underway putting together your Folio. 

    Here are the guidelines for the Folio again:

    • 10 pages in length

    • The 2 page write-up of the Formal Discussion is to be attached to the 10 page Folio (as per handout on the Moodle - but you should type it up neatly and set out under headings on the attached).

    • The 10 pages of the Folio should be something like this:
    1. Pages 1 and 2: Your Proposal written as a 2 page statement of what you have done in terms of * your  topic *focus questions *why you chose the area of research * the details of the capabilities you have chosen * what primary research you have conducted (interviews/surveys) *the ethics involved in the research.
    2. Page 3: Your timeline clearly showing what you have done and when.
    3. Page 4-6: The key secondary sources you have used - a SnagIt 8  screen capture of the website or  article (not too big a capture image) with an explanation (annotation) of what focus questions it helped answer for you and how useful it was - include some of the most useful information from the source.  You may wish to also annotate in reference to bias/limitations of the source if you see as relevant.
    4. Page 7-8: The primary research you conducted.
    • If you did an interview, put in the questions asked, who you interviewed, how long, where etc, discuss how useful the interview was in addressing the focus questions.
    • If you did a survey, put in the questions and what type of response was asked, how many surveys were conducted, how did you decide your sample, how did you get your surveys completed, what focus questions were answered in the survey and how useful was the survey.   
    • You may insert a screen capture of your survey.
         5.  Pages 9-10: The analysis sheets for your secondary and primary sources (as per handout on the Moodle).

    At this stage it would be good to look at the examples of Folios provided by the SACE Board.

    * Bone Marrow Folio: example withour SACE Board comments
    * Moped Folio: A grade example with with SACE Board comments
    * Ned Kelly Folio: example with SACE Board comments
    * Grandma Folio: A+ example
    * Football boots: B- example
    * Motorbike: C+ example

    *** Note that these examples do not necessarily follow my suggested 10 page structure outlined above.  I have just put that together to help you organise the Folio and you are welcome to follow other examples if you wish. ***

    Good luck with this work everyone.  I would like to start putting the Folio's together next Tuesday during class, for handing up next Thursday.