What are the experiences of the participants with their teaching preparation programs?

Re-thinking Teacher Education Programs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Title of the dissertation: Re-thinking Teacher Education Programs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia The specific research questions for this study are 1. What are the experiences of the participants with their teaching preparation programs? 2. How do teachers describe using their teacher education program in order to meet students academic needs? Chapter 1 Introduction of the entire dissertation with exposure to dissertation topic, rationale for the study, research purpose and questions, theoretical framework, methodological framework, and possibilities and limitations of the study. There are no specific page limits on this chapter, but usually qualitative dissertations do not have any more than 15-25 pages in the first chapter. Sections in Chapter 1 include: Introduction to the topic (Background) This section should include background information on the research topic to familiarize the reader about the subject matter of the study. This section can also include a narrative that demonstrates the salient issues of the topic from where the researcher launches into introducing the topic and transitions to the rationale for the study. Rationale for the study (Statement of the Problem) In this section the writer describes the reasons why studying the topic is relevant from substantive perspectives and methodological perspectives, if relevant. In other words, if there is a need to understand how participants experience a phenomenon and such work is minimal in the existing literature, then the researcher can use both substantive and methodological rationales for the study. Of critical importance is to identify a gap in the existing literature and make an argument for how the current study will contribute to the gap. Research Purpose and Questions The researcher needs to propose a broad open-ended research purpose that describes the focus/goal/objective of the study. It is important to note that the purpose of the study needs to include appropriate contextual details, construct that will be studied, number of participants, and the exact role of the study (i.e. to identify, explore, discover, evaluate, interrogate, etc.) Two to three research questions are appropriate in qualitative research. Any more than two or three research questions indicate that the researcher is either willing to do an in-depth analysis in all of the research questions, or is uninformed about the work that might involve in doing such a project with high academic rigor and trustworthiness. Thus, a good rule of thumb is to keep the research questions to a realistic number. The research questions should reflect the ways in which the terms in the research purpose are operationalized. In other words, if a term used in the research purpose has three components, then the research questions need to inquire into those three components, as part of the study. Operational Definitions In qualitative research, the researcher is expected to operationalize the construct that they will by studying by articulating definitions and indicators of the construct. For example, if the researcher is interested in exploring the learning experiences of participants in a technology-integrated classroom, the researcher is expected to articulate what learning experiences will be looked at and what qualifies as a technology-integrated classroom. These definition and qualifications need not be simply limited to increase in test scores, but can be definitions such as the ways in which researchers engage with content, master course objectives, participate in class discussion, and participate in peer groups. Whatever the operational definition is, the researcher is expected to measure the construct being studied based on the parameters set in the operational definition. Methodological Framework Qualitative research is grounded in its own methodological and epistemological framework. This is the grant theory that offers an organizing principle to the study and informs the reader how the researcher is going to approach the study. Thus, the researcher needs to identify whether the research is going to be informed by interpretivist theories, critical theories, or deconstructive theoretical critiques. While it is not expected to offer elaborate details of this theoretical framework in chapter 1, the researcher is still expected to orient the reader to the primary tenets of the framework with reference to key theorists and the general questions that can be asked out of the framework. Along with the methodological framework, the researcher should also mention the methodology that s/he will employ in her/his study. This can be ethnography, participant observation, focus group, etc. Along with the indication of methodology, the researcher needs to offer a paragraph worth of definition of what the methodology is about and how the researcher intends to use (or used) the methodology in the study Theoretical Framework (Substantive) 3 pages The researcher is expected to offer a theoretical framework that informs the subject matter of the study. This can be the framework of social learning, or community of practices, or other theoretical frameworks that closely relate to the topic of the study. Like methodological framework, the researcher does not have to outline all the tenets of this framework in the first chapter (delineate in chapter 2), but an introduction to the primary tenets of the framework, key scholars, and relevance for the study will suffice. Limits and Possibilities of the Study No study is perfect. Thus, the researcher needs to be aware of what s/he can and cannot do with the study. This is the space where the researcher reinforces the ways in which the study can open up new possibilities in substantive, theoretical, and methodological spaces and in praxis. It is not critical that the possibilities have to exist in all areas. Instead, the researcher needs to be aware how the study will contribute to creating new possibilities in whatever areas that are relevant. Additionally, the researcher also needs to be aware of the limits of the study and clearly delineate what they are. One common mistake students make is that they state, The study is not generalizable, or The study is subjective, as limitations. These are not limitations of qualitative study because the purpose of qualitative studies is not to generalize. Thus stating lack of generalizability is not a legitimate reflection on limitations. Similarly, qualitative researchers do not purport to be value neutral. They always situate who they are in context of the research so that the readers know how and why the researcher makes the conclusion that s/he does. Thus, criticizing qualitative research for being subjective demonstrates a lack of understanding of qualitative research as it cannot be anything but subjective with clear documentations of subjectivities. Some limitations to consider might be ethical issues, risk and benefits to the researcher, participants, to the field. Others can be the scope of the research. Additionally, methodological limitations such as verifying and triangulating information can be identified as an issue if the researcher has limited access to the information or the participant. In other words, limitations need to be grounded within the paradigm of qualitative inquiry or within the paradigm of substantive scope of the study. Chapter Summary In this chapter summary, researchers are expected to offer a brief recount of what they had introduced in the chapter. Then, it is advisable that the researchers orient the reader to the rest of the dissertation and a brief outline of the content in each of the chapters. This becomes especially relevant if the students dissertation is non-traditional.

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