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In my action research, I am continuously investigating effectiveness of inclusive education policies in India. I tried to look at the correlation between assistance of non-disabled peer and the educational achievement of the disabled peer.
The subordinate objectives of my research are as follows:
to interpret the need to increase the assistance/aid to the disabled peers
to investigate various models of improving inclusive education in India and contemporary methods to tackle challenges facing inclusive education in India.
To fore test future trends in achieving greater assistance to the disabled peers through inclusive learning and make recommendations to the schools based on the research findings.
As the answers of these problems are not numerical, more interpretation is required to understand these issues; here I follow qualitative methodology in this research.
In order to familiarize the reader with the idea of Action Research and connect it to my research, in the first part of this chapter I discuss the notion of Action Research. This section also contains discussions about methods I used and ethical considerations.
Using research to plan actions that will amend problematic practice in an organization is Action Research. It focuses on solving practical problems. It is generally carried out in small scale, and aims to improve the system and its values and practices. (Cohen et al, 2007; Denscombe, 2007; Stringer and Dwyer, 2005)). Action research is learning by doing in which a person recognises the problem, shows concern about it, does something to resolve it, sees how far his or her efforts were successful , and if dissatisfied, tries again (O'Brian ,1998) .To accomplish this objective, the researcher has to work in association with the individuals involved.
Action Research involves practioner(s) and professional(s) working together to improve their skills, techniques, and strategies, that is to improve practice.Traditional Research, in comparison is collection of information regarding a particular topic in the pre-defined systematic way" (Ronald R. Powell 2010), which means that data is gathered regarding a particular topic for the purpose of analysing further. Various interpretations are drawn by several authors in their own perceptions regarding this topic. Transformation of the raw data gathered into meaningful information can be considered as research process. Nicholas S.R Walliman (2010) stated that basic objective of carrying out the research is to search for the solution for an existing problem.
Action research is, turning the people involved into researchers (O'Brian, 1998). People learn best when they apply what they have learned. The practioner in action research spends improving the methodological tools to suit the demands of the situation, and collecting, analysing, and presenting data on an ongoing, cyclical basis.
However, carrying out Action Research is completely new to me. I highly admire the participatory aspect of Action Research (Cohen et al, 2007; Denscombe, 2007; Stringer and Dwyer, 2005). I worked in collaboration with the teachers, students, parents.
Selection of Study area and participants
All the participants of this study have adopted inclusive system of education in the sixth grade classrooms .These included 82 students, i.e. 68 students were without any disabilities and 15 students were considered as children with learning disabilities. These students belonged to a urban village near Indore in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. Pupil with disabilities in learning are placed in the schools of general education for entire period of school time along with the peers of same age group, has been a part of their district policy of education. These children with learning disabilities are provided with assistance from teachers who are appointed for group assistance in the general classrooms with teaching instructions.
Among three classrooms of year six in Sri Ravi Shankar School which have a student enrolment of 82(27, 27 and 28) students each were participating the present study. The children who have a parental consent of being included in the education program were provided with free lunch system under which around 40% of them are drawing the advantage of the program. The analysis carried out presently does not include the students with diagnosed disabilities apart from learning disabilities for the process of data collection. Irrespective of the factors related to gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity, language of the participants the study is carried out. The participating capacity of the students is not ascertained so as to safeguard the interest and privacy of the participants hence, the labelled special education status of the participants were not included in the study.
The participants included 7 girls and 8 boys in the study with an age ranging from 10 to 13 years. The areas where these children were found disabled in learning were mathematics, reading and writing. 32 children were found to be girls and 36 were boys among the total 68 participants included in the study who were without disabilities. They were ascertained with the same age ranging between 10 to 13 years with chronological mean age of 11 years approximately.
3.3 Methods of Data Collection
Like other action researches, in this study too, methods of data collection were of great importance. There are many ways to collect the data about a group of people (Moser 1980). According to Nanlin (1976) the whole process of data collection consists of two sub-stages: the pre-test and the main study. Questionnaires, interviews, observations and documents are the four important methods used to collect data in social research (Denscombe 2007). With the addition of diaries Coleman and Briggs (2002) also support these methods. As Denscombe (2007) describes one should select the methods of research depending on what is most useful. However, strong points and limitations of these methods need to be accredited.
In this research, I followed the observation, questionnaire and in-depth interview of the key informants to collect the data. I have placed few pictures in this thesis to convey some pictorial information. Throughout the research process I used a notebook as a diary, to write down important events and own reflections (Coleman and Briggs, 2002).
Observation can fairly be called the classic Method of Scientific Inquiry (Moser 1976). I decided to use observations as a research method in order to get first-hand insights into certain events, instead of other's recollection of the situation (Cohen et al, 2007; Denscombe, 2007). One of the advantages of observations is the authenticity these first-hand experiences bring; it can also be used to detect differences between what people say they do, and their actual behaviour, and, as a final point; what some people take for granted, can be noticed and explored by an outside observer (Cohen et al, 2007). By using observation as a method, I aim to "get an 'overall feel' for the situation" (Denscombe, 2007:219, emphasis in original).
3.3.2 Key Informant Interview (KII)
Key informants are the group members who are most knowledgeable about the study phenomenon. They are representative(s) of the culture and have potential to yield substantive data about the study phenomenon (Jackson 2003).in this research I have managed ten KII (6 for teachers and 4 for parents of the disabled peers).
As a method of data collection questionnaire is a very flexible tool (Nichol Williman, p.281).The principle situation in which we use questionnaires is when we want to access a large number of people''(Newby,2010 :285).
Questionnaires are often used in quantitative research when the needs of a high number of respondent are required in order to draw statically valid conclusions.
They can also be used to collect people's opinions, by asking people to rate their opinion about an issue in a closed question, or to express their feelings about an issue in an open question (Newby, 2010).
One of the main features of questionnaire is its impersonality .The questions are fixed, they do not change according to how the replies develop (Nichol Williman).
The main reason I used questionnaire in this research is was that they are less time consuming than interviews (Cohen, 2007).
As a researcher, it is important to consider ethical concerns related to the research, in order not to hurt anyone involved or affected by it (Edwards and Talbot, 1994). When meeting and collecting data from parents of disabled peers and teachers of â€¦â€¦â€¦.. school, I have been open about the reasons for my research, ensured confidentiality and received consent, which are all important ethical considerations (Creswell, 2009; Cohen et al, 2007; Denscombe, 2007).
3.5 Validity and Reliability
I am working as Academic Head in a higher education institute in rural India. I have studied in Indore and taught at different school here. So this place is very much familiar to me. Therefore, I think I can collect valid data regarding my topic. In this research, I have used observation and KII technique for collecting data. Therefore, we can verify our data by comparing our observations and key informants interview, which will make our data and research more valid and reliable.