editing disabled

A&HA 5005 Visual Arts Research Methods

Project 3: Research Design/Implementation

The purpose of this assignment is to develop your skill in conceptualizing and designing a research proposal. For some, this may also entail implementing a modest project. The specific nature of the project and the extent of implementation will be self-determined, but through discussion with the instructor. Although the structure described below describes a generic research process it is anticipated that the conceptual scope and thoughtful design will incorporate any of the approaches to research covered in this course. As the course proceeds, areas of arts-based and practice-led research will be discussed in order to expand the methodological landscape beyond the traditional quantitative-qualitative divides.
Conceptualization. When considered within the context of research that emphasizes the importance of visual methods, conceptualizing involves identifying a particular research problem or issue that you want to address, and considering all the necessary ways of tease our ‘researchable’ questions and their implications. ‘Getting inside’ a concept, idea or issue to identify appropriate research questions will be partly determined by the various visual and conceptual analytic strategies you can develop that make sense to you. The outcomes of the conceptualization process with be an overview that includes the following components:
Title/Problem Statement/Research Questions: these should indicate the issue or idea under investigation and how the study is to be done. The title includes all the relevant concepts or variables and should give some indication of the issue under investigation.
Sample Title: “Assessing Adolescent Literacy: Application and Analysis of the Effectiveness of Multiple Instructional Practices and Learning Outcome Formats.”
A Problem Statement identifies a significant issue that requires researching. In other words, your inquiries will reveal a certain ‘quizzical itch’ or problematic situation that you argue needs to be investigated. Based on the title above, a related Problem Statement might be:
“Adolescent literacy is a critical educational goal that continues to be a problem in most schools. An important aspect of debate is the way literacy is defined, taught and assessed and what research methods are most suitable in gathering evidence about these concepts and practices. At issue in the literature on research methodology is the competing claims of quantitative educational researchers who advocate ‘evidence-based research,’ and field researchers who advocate ‘practice-based evidence.’”
A Research Question identifies the specifics of what is being addressed. It is often written in a form such as: “Given this…therefore, what about this…?” Expressed as a Research Question, the concepts in the title and problem statement above might be stated this way:
“Given that current debates in educational research raise questions about the overwhelming use of evidence-based scientific methods, what evidence about the teaching and assessment of adolescent literacy might be revealed through the application of practitioner-based methods?”

Sub-questions: To effectively conceptualize and plan how a study will be focused, the research question/problem statement can be further broken down into a series of sub-questions that address specific constructs or issues. Each question will generally focus on one construct or variable. In the example above, it might be expected that specific research questions will address the debate about different research methods; current theories and practices about practitioner research methods; theories and conceptions of adolescence; theories of literacy; theories and practices related to adolescent pedagogy. So it might be expected that at least 4 or 5 sub-questions would be defined.
Answering the Questions: Scope and Type of Data. In order to get a sense of how you might design a study to best answer your research questions it is important to consider the Sources where you will get the information you need and the Type of data to be collected. The sources will vary, and include areas from related literature, to people, places, things or events that can be considered ‘sites’ that will yield the information you need. Further, this data will be collected, constructed, or created, in various forms, such as observations, interventions, reviews, interviews, documents (policies, historical records…), artifacts, images/objects etc. The data sets you compile form the basis of the information or evidence to be analyzed, interpreted and discussed. Generally, the sources and types of data to be collected and the strategies used to analyze and interpret the data form the basis for the methodology of your study.

Design of the Study
For the purposes of this assessment task, a clearly defined and coherently designed study needs to be described. The design describes what the study is about, why it is important to do, and how you will go about it. The design of the study should be completed in a visual way, using diagrams, flow charts, networks, nested structures, sequences, or any other visual structure that best captures the purpose, scope and strategies to be used. Four elements are to be included:
1. Rationale: The ‘why’ of the proposed study. This describes your response to the ‘so what?’ question - ie, you tell me what you propose to do, and I respond, ‘so what? – so you need to have a convincing argument about why your study is important to you and to the field of art education. The problem statement identifies the nature of the problem, and the research question(s) specify the particular issues being addressed, and these concerns come from your interpretation of views and arguments in the field.
2. Theoretical Frameworks: Your study will deal with certain theories that inform us about broad areas of the field of art and art education – theories of art learning, teaching, culture, institutions, creativity and the like. A theoretical framework is a description of the relevant theories about the key themes or issues in that are central to your study and how these are positioned or represented in the literature. You need to have a broad understanding of these informing theories.
Your theoretical framework could be presented either as a brief, written literature review, or described in a visual way. The point is to be able to describe the ‘theoretical’ landscape surrounding the issues you are investigating.

3. Conceptual Framework: You study is designed to shed new light onto some phenomenon you argue is important to the field. Although your study is designed with reference to the current debates and theories informing the field (literature review – theoretical frameworks above), you are interpreting your problem and questions according to your conceptualization of how you see the theoretical landscape. In other words, while other researchers have shaped the landscape of art education in certain ways, your task is to design new pathways through, around, over, under or beyond the existing literature. Consequently you are required to design your study so that is helps us ‘re-conceptualize’ ways of thinking about and inquiring into relevant areas and topics.
Your conceptual framework should be presented in visual form using whatever means best capture the purpose, questions and issues being studied.

4. Empirical Framework: In the Conceptualization’ section of this project, you identified a series of sources form which you will collect data and the types or forms these data will take. Using your conceptual framework (see 3 above) as the structural base, overlay it with a description of the types and sources of your data so that the data you will be collecting, or creating will be evident for each component or phase of your study.
For some students, this project will include an implementation phase as a small research project is designed and completed. Given this possibility, it is assumed that the information and expectations described above will be completed in abbreviated form, but in no less a conceptually robust manner. The scope of the implementation is to be discussed with the instructor.
Project Requirements
This project will be completed in two phases.
1. Proposed Research Project. One page outline describing in as much detail as possible your plans for this project. Include a title, problem statement and research questions and any other information about the design of the study.
Due Tuesday, Nov 24, in class.
2. Completed Research Project. The final project is to be completed by the end of the semester. It is due Monday December 21 (the last class is Tuesday December 15). Your project can either be uploaded to your Student Page on the Class Wiki; handed to me in hard copy form; or submitted in digital form (disk, thumb drive).