This essay is principally related with the methodology part of my dissertation. Particularly, which method I will follow in order to gather my data. In this paper, first of all, I will refer the title, the aim and the research questions of my study. These are vital elements to understand someone the general topic. Then, I will write in some words the reasons, for which I chose this issue and after that the method, which I will use and follow. My method is the interviews, which belongs to qualitative research. Thus, I will mention what is the qualitative research and which are its advantages in practice. A little reference will become in the case study, which is directly related with the qualitative research. After this preliminary information, I will develop my basic methodology, the interviews. The definition will be given and for which reasons are good, useful and helpful to use this technique. In the second part of this essay the basic issue is the pilot study. How is defined this meaning and which are the main advantages of this study. I will also mention why I used the pilot study and how it helped me in my main research. In the end of the essay, I will refer my interview questions and what changes and amendments I did after the pilot study with the aim to be more successfully my research. All this paper has as a goal to guide and help me with the second part of my dissertation, the methodology part.
The title of my dissertation is "The motional behaviour of teachers in the classroom and how this impacts upon pupils''. I think that it is a very important and remarkable issue for the educational procedure and educational progress. This research will be carried out in Greece and more specifically in a specific school in Athens. I think that in my country, the emotional behaviour of teachers and the psychology of children during the lesson is a topic, which provokes a big interest to the teachers, the students, the parents and to the society in general. This has a direct relation with the pupils and strongly affects the performance and the progress of children in the school. I as a high school teacher am interested in the emotional behaviour of teachers towards students. Maybe it is not a very popular topic but I consider that there are many interesting aspects, which would be beneficial to be investigated. This may help the teachers to be improved and the children to have a better performance and progress in the educational process. Thus, this is a basic factor, for which I chose this title in terms of course with the lack of research in Greece in accordance with the above issue. The aim of my research is to gain an understanding of behaviour in the classroom in Greece. Through this study I have intention to answer some research questions, which are related with my issue. The first is: How important do teachers perceive emotion to be within teaching and learning? And the second is: What types of emotive behaviour help or hinder teaching and learning? In order to gather all the necessary and useful information for my study, I decided to use the method of interview. I will take interviews from six high school teachers from one school of Athens. The teachers will be from different areas for example: philologists, mathematicians, physicists and chemists in order to have a better and a more reliable result. The first step for the interviews was the consent of the headmaster of school and after that the consent of teachers- participants. Of course, I have as purpose to maintain all the ethical issues such as the confidentiality, the anonymity and the right to withdraw. The above measures are necessary for a right interview.
Nowadays, one can carry out a research, using different techniques, which are divided into two categories: the quantitative and the qualitative methodology. In my dissertation as I have above mentioned I will use interviews, which belong to qualitative research method with the method of observation and the focus group. 'Qualitative research is a type of scientific research. In general, scientific research consists of an investigation that: seeks answers to a question, systematically uses a predefined set of procedures to answer the question, collects evidence, produces findings that were not determined in advance and produces findings that are applicable beyond the immediate boundaries of the study' (Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector's Field Guide, undated:2). This type of research is very effective in order to gather some information about the behaviour, the opinions and the attitudes. Furthermore, as Wimmer and Dominick (1997:84) mention that the most important in the qualitative research is the depth of the data and not the breadth of the data.
According to Colorado State University (1993- 2011) the 'case study refers to the collection and presentation of detailed information about a particular participant or small group, frequently including the accounts of subjects themselves. A form of qualitative descriptive research, the case study looks intensely at an individual or small participant pool, drawing conclusions only about that participant or group and only in that specific context'. Case study, as Feagin, Orum and Sjoberg (1991) refers, is considered an ideal methodology. This study is used for various researches, which are related with sociological studies and more specifically with the education. The case study is a very good method and source about the topics of the behaviour and investigates infrequent phenomena. In addition, it is very useful to approach theoretical assumptions and it gives you an opportunity for innovation. At last, it is a good solution for the basic group of psychology, Eisenhardt (1989:536- 537) highlights.
Frey and Oishi (1995:1) refers that the definition of interview is 'a purposeful conversation in which one person asks prepared questions (interviewer) and another answers them (respondent)'. Trochim (2006:1) highlights that interviews are the most challenging and interesting forms of finding information. The most appropriate way for the data collection is a personal interview which enables us to collect our answers personally and adopt our questions. As Oakley (1981:32) underlines that a person's ideas and views are more freely expressed and sometimes allowing the interviews to ask further questions depending to the answers or sometimes the intonation of the answer. Interviews are as a conversation between two people with the intention to accomplish the aims of the research, Best (2010:2). In order for an interview to be successful it must be in form of friendly conversation but in the meantime give all the required information needed, Goode and Hatt (1952:191) supports. 'The motif of successful interviewing is 'be friendly but not too friendly'' (Oakley, 1981:33). Besides, all the researchers want to gather reliable findings but necessary condition for this is the respondents to be sincere and give full answers in the questions. If it is not happen this, then there is big problem the outcomes to be misrepresented, Best (2010) mentions. According to Evaluation toolkit (2006) interviews as method are especially useful. First of all through this method everyone has the opportunity to investigate different topics in depth. Also, the researchers can understand how the participants think, feel and what is their opinion for the specific issue. In addition, interviews help the participants to feel more comfortable about the sensitive topics and of course add a human dimension to impersonal data. Furthermore, with this method one can gather more information and details about the personal feelings and perceptions of the participants and the questions can become more detailed. There is a high proportion of acceptance and the words of the participants are recorded word by word. Moreover, another significant advantage is that the questions can be made clearer and more specific because the conversation is face to face. The same can happen for the answers if they are considered that their answers are deficient. Similar situation can happen when it is necessary to become clarification about the context of the questions as for example when students have English as second language. Finally, in this method each participant is alone expressing his/ her opinion and there is no danger to be affected by the other participants. Similar view is supported by the British Educational Research Association (BERA) (2006- 2011), which think that the method of interview is the best way to know whatever you want, to gather all the data and in general BERA consider that the above method is the most effective way for the different views and opinions of people. The questions in this case are the same and there is the opportunity to repeat the interview and examine a large number of people quickly and easily. Another basic reason, for which it is good to use this method, is the formal relationship between the researcher and the interviewee. The seconds know very well what the firsts want from them. Consequently, via an interview there is no possibility to be incomplete or to be vague the answers. This may happens because each researcher guides the conversation without of course affecting them (Sociological Research Skills, undated: 1- 2).
According to the Association for Qualitative Research (AQR) (undated) the pilot study is 'a small study conducted in advance of a planned project, specifically to test aspects of the research design (such as stimulus material) and to allow necessary adjustment before final commitment to the design'.
The pilot study is a small experiment, which designed to test the data collection and has as intention the improvement and the effectiveness of the quality. It is usually less than the main research and consequently can provide limited information and details as Ruxton and Colegrave (2006) underlines. The pilot study is especially useful for the conduct of one research and it has a lot of advantages. A significant advantage of this study is that it can give advance warning about where the main research could fail. Moreover, it can help you to realise if the methodology of the research is appropriate for gathering all the information or if it is too complicated. Some other advantages are that you can assess if the technique, which will use is effective. How many possibilities there are in order to be successful the research and how much you can approach your topic. You can design protocol and then to assess if this protocol is feasible. You also have the possibility to know the sources, which are needed for this study as for example the staff or the finance. Thus, the researcher assesses the techniques of the data collection and potential problems in the main research. Another striking asset is the collection of preliminary data, which will be very useful for the main research. This is so helpful because the researcher obtain as many elements for the research process. Finally, in the case of funding the relevant bodies are very important to know if the research team have the appropriate abilities, worth funding and can be supported by these bodies. In some words, the meaning of the pilot study, as De Vaus (1993:54) highlights, is 'Do not take the risk. Pilot test first'.
For these reasons I did pilot study before my research. First of all, I had written some questions, which I applied to two other people except from the six basic participants. Of course, these two people were high school teachers and are direct related with the education and the educational process. The questions of my interviews are especially related with the psychology, the emotional behaviour of teachers and the relationship between teachers and students. After the pilot study, I made some changes and amendments in order to become more comprehensible and understandable. In particular, the first question is for the teaching background of teachers. How long have you been teaching and where did you train. Another question is if you study psychology as part of your undergraduate degree. Then, what is the relationship between teachers and students. Is it distant or friendly? What is your teaching style? Is it strict, relaxed or friendly? The next has relation with the emotional behaviour of teachers and the performance of students. Is it better to show emotion or not? In what ways? Do you think that showing emotion can make teaching and learning more effective? Do you think that you would have been benefited from having a great knowledge of psychology in your teaching training and why. For example, in the first schedule the question about the emotional behaviour of teachers was absolutely indistinct and the interviewees could not answer. This understood it because the participants did long time to reply and they looked me with wonder. In order to answer, they asked me more clarifying questions and after this procedure were ready to start. The same happened with the question about the psychology. In the first plan the issue was if they considered important the psychology in education. In this case, the question was very vague and general and I had to become more specific in order to guide the participants. On the other hand, during the pilot study, I asked the two teachers for their teaching style during the lesson in the classroom. Hearing their answers, I comprehended that they referred also in their relationship with their students. Thus, I decided to add this question in my interview schedule. Finally, after the pilot study I looked again my questions very careful for difficulties and problems and I tried to make them clear as more as possible.
More specifically, this procedure helps me very much to understand and to realise different problems about my questions. In particular, I found in some points that my questions were ambiguous and tenebrous. For example, the respondents do not apprehend very clear what I exactly mean and as a result there is confusion in the answers accordingly. It is very difficult to begin the methodology part of one research without doing pilot study. Here, the participants are active members, individual personalities and there are many possibilities, each person to apprehend the question with different way. Thus, each researcher should be very careful; otherwise the research will not have the expected outcome and its result will be unfaithfully. Except from this, processing the information from the answers, which they gave me, I had the opportunity to think about the other aspects of my issue and thus added new questions in the first schedule. All this procedure, definitely, had positive impact on the data collection because it helped me to cover the topic as more as possible. Furthermore, via this study, I managed to learn more things about this topic and I was fully prepared for the next step.
To sum it up, the basic point of this paper is the technique of interviews, the method collection of data which support to the qualitative methodology, as well as the pilot study. The most important of this essay is that the interview is one of the best methods in order to collect some information for a research. In general it is very useful while the communication is friendlier in comparison with the other methods and the participant can freely expressed his/ her opinion. In addition, you have the chance to explain and clarify the questions because the interview is face to face. On the other hand, the second big topic is the pilot study. It is also helpful and useful but this takes part before the main research. This procedure helped me very much to make my questions very clear and to improve my interview schedule. After my experience, I realised that the pilot study should be compulsory to conduct a successful research as well as has absolutely positive impact on its evolution. The changes, the amendments and the augmentation some questions seem to be significant elements for reliable findings. It is undoubtedly that the outcomes of my investigation after the pilot study are more valid than before. It is true that the methodology part may be the most difficult but also the most essential element. It is the point, in which one ought to give a lot of attention because it is the core and the central part of each research.
Ruxton GD & Colegrave N (2006) Experimental Design for the Life Sciences (2nd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Best, S. (2010) 'Course Materials: Interviews: Supporting Materials', Available at: https://blackboard.manchester.ac.uk/webct/urw/lc5116011.tp0/cobalt MainFrame.dowebct , Last Accessed: 5 May 2011