Friday, September 20, 2013

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Curriculum of Forest School

Once upon a time the animals in the forest decided to start a school. They agreed that
the curriculum should include the following subjects: swimming, hopping, climbing,
running, flying, digging and slithering. All animals were required to take all subjects.
Everything went on well until the third day when the principal, Wise Old Owl,
noticed some disturbing trends. For example, the rabbits were excelling in hopping
but performed poorly in flying tests. The cheetahs were scoring A’s in running but
were getting D’s in digging. The ducks were getting straight A’s in swimming but
were failing in the slithering course. The snakes easily got A’s in slithering but had
difficulty flying.
An emergency staff meeting was held among the teachers to find out whether it was
due to poor teaching or was a curriculum problem. It was agreed that the teachers
were good and dedicated to practising research-based instructional strategies.
Professor Lion from Forest State University was called in as a consultant. He
discovered that the problem was not due to poor teaching but rather the low level of
curriculum utility. He pointed out that ducks really do not need to know how to slither
and cheetahs should not be forced to learn digging skills. Neither should the snakes be
asked to take flying classes.
Prof. Lion concluded that animals were forced to learn skills that were not relevant to
their situations. However, there are certain skills every animal needs to know such as
finding food and water. He proposed that the curriculum be revised to include
instruction in generic skills such as food acquisition principles and social skills. But
animals were allowed to specialise in subjects most applicable to their species (e.g.
swimming, running). The animals all rejoiced when the recommendations were
implemented and shouted “Now this is a useful curriculum”.
[Source: Adaptation of L. F. Buscaglia (1972), Love. Thorofare, NJ: C.B. Slack, cited in R.
Burks, A theory of secondary curriculum utility, 1998.]

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Conference, Seminar, Symposium, etc.

Conference, seminar, symposium, colloquium, and workshop--- all the terms are common in the sense that each refers to a meeting of a group of individuals to discuss about something--- academic or otherwise. Now, coming to the first three terms, I must say that these are synonymous to each other.

 • A Conference refers to a formal meeting of people (with shared interest) to discuss some issue (and the issue may not be highly academic or about specialised academic subject; it's more of a general nature). it typically takes place over several days and a relatively larger group meets here (which may not be the case in Seminars or Symposia). 
 • Ex: An international conference like the famous 'Jomtien Conference'. 

 • Seminar, on the other hand, involves the meeting of a relatively small group of individuals for discussion or training. 
 • Ex: 'Two-day Seminar for TGT Science/ Math of NDMC Schools’ 
 • Seminar also refers to a small study group of university students, which meet to discuss topics with teacher/teachers. 
 • Ex: The 'M. Ed. Seminar' begins from 17th September. 
• Seminar, in fact, is also a teaching method which uses a lot of discussion among small groups of university students. 
 • Ex: The M. Phil. course requires you to attend at least 5 seminars and actively participate in the same. 

 • Symposium (plural: symposia) refers to a meeting in which individuals discuss a particular specialist or academic subject. It is of more academic nature (with a narrow focus) than a seminar/conference. 
• Ex. Symposium on Gender, Race and Philosophy • Symposium also refers to a collection of related papers by a number of contributors.

 • Colloquium (plural: colloquia/colloquiums) is also an academic conference /seminar (where individuals do conversation about a particular topic or issue); but is mainly used for a meeting of researchers where they present the progress of their works and discuss the issues which emanate. It is more customary in our universities to use the term for such a monthly or bimonthly meeting of Ph. D. scholars. 
 • Ex: Every Ph. D. student, under the new rules, has to present the progress of her/his work in the monthly colloquia on a regular basis. 

 • Workshop, in academics, also refers to the meeting of a group of individuals. What makes it different from the other terms, is the fact that the group meeting for a workshop not only engages in intensive discussion (on a particular subject/project), but also involves in some ‘activity’. So, both ‘talking’ plus ‘doing’ is there in workshops!! 
 • Ex: National workshop on educational technology. 

A Classical Student

[Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (Jan 29, 1860 - Jul 15, 1904) was a Russian physician and supreme short story writer and playwright. In 1879 Chekhov was admitted to medical school and he joined his family in Moscow. He assumed financial responsibility for the family and while attending classes at Moscow State University he wrote and sold a large number of humorous stories and vignettes of contemporary Russian life. He published more than 400 short stories, sketches and vignettes by the age of twenty-six. Some consider Chekhov to be the founder of the modern short story and his influence is observed in a diverse group of writers including Flannery O'Connor, Tennessee Williams, Somerset Maugham, Raymond Carver and John Cheever. Most of the English-speaking world knows him as a playwright, particularly for The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard. Some popular starting points for short story readers include The Lady with the Little Dog, Ward No. 6, The Darling and Gusev. For a change from the routine theories of education and pedagogy, here I post a less known story by Chekhov, for it's a description of a student of Chekhov's time. Wish my readers a happy reading!! ]
BEFORE setting off for his examination in Greek, Vanya kissed all the holy images. His stomach felt as though it were upside down; there was a chill at his heart, while the heart itself throbbed and stood still with terror before the unknown. What would he get that day? A three or a two? Six times he went to his mother for her blessing, and, as he went out, asked his aunt to pray for him. On the way to school he gave a beggar two kopecks, in the hope that those two kopecks would atone for his ignorance, and that, please God, he would not get the numerals with those awful forties and eighties. He came back from the high school late, between four and five. He came in, and noiselessly lay down on his bed. His thin face was pale. There were dark rings round his red eyes. "Well, how did you get on? How were you marked?" asked his mother, going to his bedside. Vanya blinked, twisted his mouth, and burst into tears. His mother turned pale, let her mouth fall open, and clasped her hands. The breeches she was mending dropped out of her hands. "What are you crying for? You've failed, then?" she asked. "I am plucked. . . . I got a two." "I knew it would be so! I had a presentiment of it," said his mother. "Merciful God! How is it you have not passed? What is the reason of it? What subject have you failed in?" "In Greek. . . . Mother, I . . . They asked me the future of phero, and I . . . instead of saying oisomai said opsomai. Then . . . then there isn't an accent, if the last syllable is long, and I . . . I got flustered. . . . I forgot that the alpha was long in it. . . . I went and put in the accent. Then Artaxerxov told me to give the list of the enclitic particles. . . . I did, and I accidentally mixed in a pronoun . . . and made a mistake . . . and so he gave me a two. . . . I am a miserable person. . . . I was working all night. . . I've been getting up at four o'clock all this week . . . ." "No, it's not you but I who am miserable, you wretched boy! It's I that am miserable! You've worn me to a threadpaper, you Herod, you torment, you bane of my life! I pay for you, you good-for-nothing rubbish; I've bent my back toiling for you, I'm worried to death, and, I may say, I am unhappy, and what do you care? How do you work?" "I . . . I do work. All night. . . . You've seen it yourself." "I prayed to God to take me, but He won't take me, a sinful woman. . . . You torment! Other people have children like everyone else, and I've one only and no sense, no comfort out of him. Beat you? I'd beat you, but where am I to find the strength? Mother of God, where am I to find the strength?" The mamma hid her face in the folds of her blouse and broke into sobs. Vanya wriggled with anguish and pressed his forehead against the wall. The aunt came in. "So that's how it is. . . . Just what I expected," she said, at once guessing what was wrong, turning pale and clasping her hands. "I've been depressed all the morning. . . . There's trouble coming, I thought . . . and here it's come. . . ." "The villain, the torment!" "Why are you swearing at him?" cried the aunt, nervously pulling her coffee-coloured kerchief off her head and turning upon the mother. "It's not his fault! It's your fault! You are to blame! Why did you send him to that high school? You are a fine lady! You want to be a lady? A-a-ah! I dare say, as though you'll turn into gentry! But if you had sent him, as I told you, into business . . . to an office, like my Kuzya . . . here is Kuzya getting five hundred a year. . . . Five hundred roubles is worth having, isn't it? And you are wearing yourself out, and wearing the boy out with this studying, plague take it! He is thin, he coughs. . . just look at him! He's thirteen, and he looks no more than ten." "No, Nastenka, no, my dear! I haven't thrashed him enough, the torment! He ought to have been thrashed, that's what it is! Ugh . . . Jesuit, Mahomet, torment!" she shook her fist at her son. "You want a flogging, but I haven't the strength. They told me years ago when he was little, 'Whip him, whip him!' I didn't heed them, sinful woman as I am. And now I am suffering for it. You wait a bit! I'll flay you! Wait a bit . . . ." The mamma shook her wet fist, and went weeping into her lodger's room. The lodger, Yevtihy Kuzmitch Kuporossov, was sitting at his table, reading "Dancing Self-taught." Yevtihy Kuzmitch was a man of intelligence and education. He spoke through his nose, washed with a soap the smell of which made everyone in the house sneeze, ate meat on fast days, and was on the look-out for a bride of refined education, and so was considered the cleverest of the lodgers. He sang tenor. "My good friend," began the mamma, dissolving into tears. "If you would have the generosity -- thrash my boy for me. . . . Do me the favour! He's failed in his examination, the nuisance of a boy! Would you believe it, he's failed! I can't punish him, through the weakness of my ill-health. . . . Thrash him for me, if you would be so obliging and considerate, Yevtihy Kuzmitch! Have regard for a sick woman!" Kuporossov frowned and heaved a deep sigh through his nose. He thought a little, drummed on the table with his fingers, and sighing once more, went to Vanya. "You are being taught, so to say," he began, "being educated, being given a chance, you revolting young person! Why have you done it?" He talked for a long time, made a regular speech. He alluded to science, to light, and to darkness. "Yes, young person." When he had finished his speech, he took off his belt and took Vanya by the hand. "It's the only way to deal with you," he said. Vanya knelt down submissively and thrust his head between the lodger's knees. His prominent pink ears moved up and down against the lodger's new serge trousers, with brown stripes on the outer seams. Vanya did not utter a single sound. At the family council in the evening, it was decided to send him into business.
-- Anton Chekhov

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Populations and Sampling

Population is any group of individuals that has one or more characteristics in common and that are of interest to the researcher. It is a group of individuals with at least one common characteristic that distinguishes that group from other individuals.

 •A target population is the specific group of individuals to whom the findings of the research are proposed to generalize. 

 •Accessible populations are groups that are representative of the overall target population as well as convenient for the researchers. 

 •Sampling is the process of selecting a number of individuals for a study in such a way that the individuals represent the larger group (population) from which they were selected. The process of going from a large general population to a target population to a sample is common in behavioural sciences research.The purpose of sampling is to gain information about the larger population.The degree to which the selected sample represents the population is the degree to which the research results are generalizable to the population. •A Sample is a small representative proportion of the population that is selected for observation and analysis

 Sampling Methods 
 Randomness. The concept of randomness has been basic to scientific observation and research and is very crucial in the process of sampling. It is based on the assumption that while individual events cannot be predicted with accuracy, aggregate events can. Randomization provides the most effective method of eliminating systematic bias and of minimizing the effect of extraneous (unconnected, exterior, outside) variables. The principle of randomization is based on the assumption that through random assignment differences between groups result only from the operation of probability or chance. These differences are known as sampling error or error variance, and their magnitude can be established by the researcher. It is therefore, important to note that a random sample is not necessarily an identical representation of the population. Regardless of the specific techniques used, the steps in sampling include (i) identification of the population, (ii) determination of sample size, and (iii) selection of the sample. Sampling methods can be random (probability) as well as non-random (or non-probability). 

  I. Random/Probability Sampling In a probability/random sampling technique each and every individual of the population gets an equal and independent chance of selection as a sample. Random sampling is generally used in quantitative researches. It can be of following four types: 

 •Simple Random Sampling is the process of selecting a sample in such a way that all individuals in the defined population have an equal and independent chance of being selected for the sample. It is the best single way to obtain a representative sample. 
•Simple random sampling involves defining the population, identifying each member of the population, and selecting individuals for the sample on a completely chance basis. 
 •Lottery method can be used but it is more customary to use a table of random numbers to select the sample. 

 •Stratified Sampling is the process of selecting a sample in such a way that identified subgroups in the population are represented in the sample in the same proportion that they exist in the population. •Stratified sampling can also be used to select equal-sized samples from each of a number of subgroups if subgroup comparisons are desired. 
 •The steps in stratified sampling are similar to those in random sampling except that in stratified sampling, random sampling is done for each subgroup. 

 •Cluster Sampling is sampling in which groups, not individuals, are randomly selected. Clusters can be communities, states, school zones, etc. •Here, the random selection of groups or clusters is done (not of individuals). 
 •In both stratified and cluster sampling, multistage sampling is usually done. 

 •Systematic Random Sampling is sampling in which individuals are selected from a list by taking every Kth name, where K equals the number of individuals on the list divided by the number of participants desired for the sample. 

  II. Non random/ Non probability Sampling Researchers cannot always select random samples and must rely on non-random selection procedures. When non random sampling techniques are used, it is not possible to specify what probability each member of a population has of being selected for the sample; and it is often difficult to even describe the population from which a sample was drawn and to whom results can be generalized. Non random sampling techniques involve the following three types:

 •Convenience Sampling involves using as the sample whoever happens to be available. 

 •Purposive Sampling involves selecting a sample the researcher believes to be representative of a given population. Here, the researcher’s insights guide the selection of participants. 
 •A variety of purposive sampling techniques are used in qualitative research, including homogeneous sampling, criterion sampling, snow ball sampling, and random purposive sampling.

 •Quota Sampling involves giving interviewers exact numbers, or quotas, of persons of varying characteristics who are to be interviewed. 

 Sample Size Samples should be as large as possible. In general, the larger the sample size, the more representative it is likely to be, and the more generalizable the results of the study will be. There are no universally accepted minimum sample sizes. Minimum, acceptable sample sizes depend on the type of research, the time frame, and other resources available to the researcher.

Friday, December 30, 2011

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Theory and Hypothesis

A theory is an attempt to develop a general explanation for some phenomenon. It is a well-established principle that has been developed to explain some aspect of the natural world. 
It defines non-observable constructs (mental abstractions such as personality, creativity, intelligence, etc.) that are inferred from observable facts and events and that are thought to have an effect on the phenomenon under study. A theory describes the relationship among key variables for purposes of explaining a current state or predicting future occurrences. A theory is primarily concerned with explanation and therefore focuses on determining cause-effect relationships.
A theory arises from repeated observation and testing and incorporates facts, laws, predictions, and tested hypotheses that are widely accepted.

Researchers engaged in pure/basic research devote their energies to the formulation and reformulation of theories and may not be concerned with their practical applications. However, when a theory has been established, it may suggest many applications of practical value. Indeed, ‘there is nothing more practical than a good theory’ (John Dewey).

A hypothesis is the researcher’s tentative predictions of the results of the research findings. Hypothesis is a specific, testable prediction about what the researcher expects to happen in her/his study. For example, a study designed to look at the relationship between study habits and test anxiety might have a hypothesis that states, ‘This study is designed to assess the hypothesis that students with better study habits will suffer less test anxiety.’ Unless the study is exploratory in nature, the hypothesis should always explain what the researcher expects to happen during the course of her/his experiment or research.
While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably in general practice, the difference between a theory and a hypothesis is important when studying experimental design. Some important distinctions to note include:
• A theory predicts events in general terms, while a hypothesis makes a specific prediction about a specified set of circumstances.

• A theory has been extensively tested and is generally accepted, while a hypothesis is a speculative guess that has yet to be tested.

Hypotheses are more common in quantitative than qualitative research. Hypotheses are formulated prior to the execution of the study. They are formulated on the basis of the knowledge gained from a theory or review of related literature. 

Functions of Hypotheses
In scientific inquiry, hypotheses serve two important functions; the development of theory, and the statement of parts of an existing theory in testable form.
Hypotheses formulation is considered as the first of the six levels of theory generation (Snow, 1973). 
The most common use of hypotheses is to test whether an existing theory can be used to solve a problem.

Characteristics of a Good Hypothesis
• A good hypothesis is based on a sound rationale; it is not a ‘wild guess’ but a reasoned prediction. It is a tentative but rational explanation for the predicted outcome.
• A good hypothesis states as clearly as possible the expected relationship or difference between two variables in measurable terms.
• A well stated and defined hypothesis must be testable.

Types of Hypotheses
Inductive Hypothesis is a generalization made from a number of observations.

Deductive Hypothesis is derived from theory and is aimed at providing evidence that supports, expands, or contradicts aspects of a given theory.

Research Hypothesis (H) is a formal affirmative statement predicting a single research outcome. It is a statement regarding the expected relationship or difference between two variables. It states the relationship the researcher expects to verify through the collection and analysis of data. 

• For example, a number of years ago the hypothesis was formulated that ‘there is a positive causal relationship between cigarette smoking and the incidence of coronary heart disease’. In behavioural sciences one might propose the hypothesis that ‘UGC-NET aspirants taught research methodology through discussion and problem solving method would score better in the UGC-NET exam than those taught through the conventional method’.
Research hypotheses can be Nondirectional, Directional or Null.

Nondirectional Hypothesis indicates that a relationship or difference exists but does not indicate the direction of the difference.

Directional Hypothesis indicates that a relationship or difference exists and indicates the direction of the difference.

Null Hypothesis (N) is a statement of the research hypothesis in negative or null form. It states that there will be no significant relationship or difference between variables. For example, the statement that ‘there is no positive causal relationship between cigarette smoking and the incidence of coronary heart disease’; or, ‘there will be no significant difference between the UGC-NET exam scores of UGC-NET aspirants taught research methodology through discussion and problem solving method or the conventional method’.
• The Null hypothesis relates to a statistical method of interpreting conclusions about population characteristics that are inferred from the variable relationships observed in samples. 
• The null hypothesis asserts that the observed differences or relationships result merely from chance errors inherent in the sampling process. 
• Most hypotheses are the opposite of the Null hypothesis. In such a case if the researcher rejects the Null hypothesis, s/he accepts the research hypothesis, concluding that the magnitude of the observed variable relationship is probably too great to attribute to sampling error.