A black and white photo of Yoda

Connecting Module #3 to Module #4: Teacher Response to Module #3

Your grades are on Canvas, so check for them there.

I also provide individualized feedback on modules that connect what you individually did to what you need to do in the next module, so be sure to check on that as well.

Ask yourself the “so what?” question

Whenever you create a research instrument, it should arise naturally from questions you are trying to answer. It should provide a natural means of answering those questions, in other words.

This isn’t always what happens, though. It’s easy to think of methods as solutions to research questions. Have a question? Through a survey or interview at it? But why that method? How does that method help you collect data that will be useful to answering your questions?

Answering that last question starts with asking the broader question of why people should care about what you’re researching. This is the “so what” question that every researcher should ask themselves when beginning a new inquiry. And the answer should never be: because you think it’s important. It has to be because you think it’s important to other people.

Don’t think in (quantitative or qualitative) silos

Another trap is to fall into the “I’m this kind of researcher” mindset. I just did that in my post about Homework #4. It’s easy to do.

The danger in doing so is that you start thinking like a robot. Again: you’re putting the method before the inquiry. Just because you’re unfamiliar with a method, doesn’t mean it isn’t exactly you need for a current inquiry. Similarly: you may be the best ethnographer in the world, but maybe ethnography isn’t going to be useful in the current inquiry.

Answering questions, questions that provide solutions to problems, should always be the fundamental aim of every researcher. This is especially true when those questions are hard to answer and when their attendant problems seem unsolvable. That’s where good research comes from: the “wicked problems” that can never be definitely solved.

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