THE METHODOLOGY 15
Thischapter focuses on describing the qualitative study model andresearch design for the impact of summer learning loss. Many Americanteachers and parents oppose eliminating the long summer vacations(Online Colleges Organization, 2014). They argue that the vacationsprovide children with carefree opportunities to spend time withfamily members, summer camps, parks, and museums (Summer LearningOrganization, 2009). The school calendars containing long summerbreaks were common in rural regions where parents required childrento help with various farm activities during the holidays such asfarming, harvesting, and planting. On the contrary, urban schools hadacademic years ranging between eleven and twelve months.Nevertheless, America still upholds the traditional nine-monthlearning calendar although the number of people depending onagriculture cycle has decreased from 85% to 3% (Cooper, 2003). Inaddition, improved air-conditioning technology implies that schoolscan remain open any time during the year.
Thelarger body of research available now confirms that the long summervacation results in learning loss among the students especially thosein middle school. The significance of summer homework in the learningprocess can be investigated using a specific research subject. Thestudy will investigate whether summer homework reduces learning lossamong 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. In conducting this research, thefollowing questions will serve as a guide:
1.What are the positive impacts of summer homework in reducing learningloss?
2.What are the negative impacts of summer homework on the learningprocess?
3.What are the views of parents and teachers about on summer homework?
Summerhomework reduces learning loss as it guides students on effectiveacademic approach. The teacher outlines critical areas that studentsshould cover during the break. On the other hand, parents facilitatesproviding their children with the resources they need to accomplishthe homework such as books and access to a library. The financiallycapable parents do also facilitate tuition for the children. Thecontinued academic program during the holiday reduces the effect ofsummer learning process, which may lead to loss of over ten weeksworth of academic time (McLaughlinand Pitcock, 2009).
However,some conservative parents advocate that students should not takehomework at home (Online Colleges Organization, 2014). Some claimthat the summer vacation is suitable time for the children to engagein co-curricular activities, spend quality time with parents, andshake off the academic fatigue (Cooper, 2003). In addition, otherparents discourage summer homework because accessing books,libraries, or tuition assistance can be challenging in the ruralregions (Online Colleges Organization, 2014). Fortunately, thewidespread availability of internet is gradually changing theattitude of such parents because their children can access affordableonline tuition and public libraries (Allingtonet al., 2010).
Accordingto a large body of present studies on the attitude of teachers andparents concerning holiday homework, they indicate that both partiesadvocate children to take homework home. The task compels them tostudy during the holidays thereby, minimizing the extent of academicdeterioration (McLaughlinand Pitcock, 2009).
ResearchDesign and approach
Theresearch topic regarding summer learning loss is valuable as it has abig influence on the learning process. The topic concerns loss ofacademic skills during the extended summer vacation. Various measuresthat educators have adopted to curb the problem have yieldedinsignificant fruits, if not none. Students have continued toindicate reduced educational skills and knowledge after resumingschool from summer vacations. This problem necessitates a research todevise a solution or method to reduce summer learning loss. Thesolutions offered are a subject of discussion concerning theirefficiency. For more than a century, American school programs arecharacterized by long vacations during summer (Allingtonet al., 2010).The culture originated in the Agrarian revolution since parentsrequired the extra support of their children in the farms. In fact,both teachers and parents oppose changing the academic year in a waythat students would not be breaking for very long holidays. However,this research will use program evaluation approach to identify thepositive effects of summer homework in reducing learning loss, viewsof parents and teachers on summer homework, and the views of parentsand teachers about summer homework.
Theprogram evaluation population shall comprise of teachers and studentsat Hackensack middle school. The school is located in district 37 inthe state of NJ. Only one parent or guardian for each student wouldbe considered instead of considering both parents, which isredundant. The number of parents is expected to be slightly higherthan the teachers. Only a few teachers shall be sampled with thebasic requirement being that they teach in fourth, fifth, and sixthgrades and have teaching experience exceeding two years. The ethniccomposition of the population is a diverse culture that includesCaucasian white, Asian with a majority of them being Hispanics, andAfrican Americans. By sex, there is a healthy balance between malesand females although there is a likely to be a bias towards femalemiddle school teachers. Studies have revealed that teaching inelementary and secondary schools is a largely feminized job (Terzianand Moore, 2009).
Thesampling method purposeful sampling
Purposefulsampling refers to the selection of the sample form a populationbased on given characteristics. This differs from simple randomsampling where participants irrespective of any definingcharacteristics such as age, location or other key traits that caninfluence the type of data to be collected are randomly selected.There are various ways of conducting purposeful sampling depending onthe data collection method. Convenience sampling, which identifiesparticipants, based on their simple availability upon meeting thebasic criteria for the study, maximum variation sampling to cover theextreme cases of the sample, criterion sampling, or stratifiedpurposeful sampling that seeks out participants who meet a certaincriteria (Terzianand Moore, 2009).This study will rely on stratified purposeful sampling as it will bebest-placed to enable the research identify a relevant sample neededto achieve the set aims of the study.
Anumber of factors determine the sample size in any research. Theyinclude the type data to be collected, data collection methods, thevalidity/credibility or precision required, population size, samplingmethod, scope of research and sampling technique used. In thisprogram evaluation, I am planning to use a qualitative method whereparticipants will fill questionnaires describing the benefits ofsummer holiday homework to the children. The Hackensack middle schoolteachers are active in giving students homework during the holidays.However, a good percentage of the students rarely complete the work.With the assistance from the teachers, I will investigate theperformance of both the students that completes the homework and theones that never does.
Besides,I will also evaluate another category of parents that has prohibitedteachers from giving holiday assignments to their children. Theinvestigation will focus on the reasons that motivated the parents todeclare that their children should not take assignments during thesummer holiday. Similarly, I will seek to understand the logic thenegative effects caused by the holiday homework. I will specificallybe interested in the performance of students on the closing termassessment test and the continuous assessment test at the end ofsummer holiday (Borman& Dowling, 2006).
Benefitsof qualitative program evaluation
Thequalitative program evaluation technique is best suited for largesamples where a few variables are assessed. On the other hand,qualitative approach calls for a smaller sample that is studied moreclosely with a relatively larger number of variables being assessed(Borman& Dowling, 2006).With a sample of 150 parents and 25 teachers, there are expected tobe 175 surveys to be analyzed based on the responses to the questionsset targeting specific variables. In addition, there will be tenextra questionnaires for the participating teachers.
Theeligibility of shortlisted is that the parents must have childrenenrolled in the middle school. Teachers must be teaching at least onesubject in fourth, fifth, and sixth grades at least for the last oneyear. All stakeholders must be sane and have signed a consent form(Maxwell, 2012).
Thecharacteristic of the selected sample
Allparticipants must be affiliated to the school as either currentparents or teachers. All participants must show their associationwith the school and be in the official records of the school. Thechildren`s guardians should be active in the lives of their childrenespecially education-wise.
Sincethe social research involves human beings, the school administration,participants, and the institutional administration board must approveit. For studies involving humans, the IRB requires that individualsare protected from physical and psychological harm. As such,participants must provide informed consent to researchers beforecommencement of the research (Miller, 2012).
Thereare three main risks involved in social research. First is harm as aresult of their involvement. Second is damage of professionalrelationships. Third is the privacy and falsification of data. Toprevent emotional and psychological harm, participants will beinformed about the purposes of the research and use of the findings.On avoiding societal risks, the researcher place the research in therelevance of the society by assuring that the research and itsfindings will not be used to harm the society. Furthermore,assurances must be provided to participants that their privacy willbe protected and that data provided cannot be used for other purposesor disclosed to other parties without their consent (Miller, 2012).
Themain data collection method I applied in the study was a customizedsurvey. The survey appears like a questionnaire with guide questionsregarding the way respondents should answer questions.
Howthese past/current roles and relationships are likely to affect datacollection, and the researcher’s experiences or biases that arerelated to the topic
SinceI have never been a teacher, and I do not know the parents that Iwill be surveying, the results will be less biased since I am lesslikely to introduce my own information. Since I have alreadyprepared guide research, I will ensure that parents and teachers willgive information restricted to answering the requested information.To familiarize myself with the parents and teachers that will answerthe survey, we will hold a brief meeting that we will hold a briefmeeting that I will introduce myself. I will also assure them thedata they will provide will be used for the purpose of the studyonly. Besides, I will also give them guidance on the correctprocedures for answering the questions.
Generating,gathering, and recording the survey data
Iwill collect data using online surveys that will post to each parentparticipating in the research. The objective of collecting theinformation is comparing the benefits and drawbacks of homework tostudents’ performance during the long summer vacation on academicperformance. The survey will also determine the attitude of parentstowards the holiday homework, as well as potential reasons that maycontribute to development of the mind-set (McLaughlinand Pitcock, 2009).
Numberof tests and duration of each
Sincethe survey contains only three questions and two bonus inquiries,each parent will have thirty minutes to answer the questions. I amdeliberately allocating short time for the questions because I wantthe parents to focus on giving genuine answers without having toinvent stories that would fit the opportunity.
Thisstudy aims to evaluate whether homework does influence summerlearning loss. I have selected the Hackensack middle school indistrict 37, in the state of NJ, as my study subject. The parentscome from diverse backgrounds, including social economic status andethnicities. The education level, financial stability, and the placeof residence are some of the other factors I will use in determiningthe attitude of parents towards the holiday homework.
Previousstudies indicate that parents that live in urban areas encourageteachers to give their children homework that will guide them tostudy on their own (Cooper, 2003). However, parents in the ruralregion do not support summer homework because libraries are hard tocome by in the suburban regions (Online Colleges Organization, 2014).The information I will gather will come handy in determining theauthenticity of the conclusion of the past studies.
Evidenceof quality and procedures to assure the best possible accuracy andcredibility of the findings
Ipreferred to use this school as the study subject because it has beenin operation for more than a decade. In addition, the entireperformance records for the students, both prior and after the summerholidays, are available for the entire period the institution hasbeen in operation. Second, the institution is located in myresidential area, so I will be at a strategic position to maintainone-on-one contact with the institution’s management throughout thesurvey. Third, the school has a very diverse population. It has overten ethnic groups from different social economic background. Thevariation of the study subjects is precisely the group we need inorder to minimize errors that may arise because of different thebackground of individuals (Terzianand Moore, 2009).
Whenthe data will be analyzed
Iwill start analyzing the data within 24 hours after receiving all thesurveys. I will review the answers I will receive, and then comparethe strength of the points listed the results from previous studies.I have already identified individualized reasons that might makeparents get tempted to either support or reject to support teachersto give homework to their children.
Thecoding procedure for reducing information into categories and themes
Theanalysis will also observe the links between genders of parents andtheir attitude towards addressing summer holiday learning loss.Previous research outcome have hypothesized that single mothers aremore likely to embrace holiday homework as a solution to reducesummer learning loss than single fathers are. Fortunately, bothgenders are evenly distributed in the participating respondentshence, it will be easy to discover whether gender does affect summerlearning loss reaction from parents (Allingtonet al., 2010).
Theparent-student relationship could also influence summer learning lossin addition to the extended vacation. I will review the relationshipbetween parents and teachers and then compare the rate of performancedeviation between students that have good relationship with theparents, and the ones that have a cold relationship with theirguardians. The quality of parents-child relationship influencesself-confidence of learners, which is paramount to achieve impressiveresults. Since the survey is a qualitative research, it will beseeking to understand underlying issues that may affect academicperformance. In theAttachment Theory According to John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth book,Krumwiede (2014)affirms that secure parental attachment enhances self-confidence,memories, beliefs, and thoughts. All these qualities are essential toexcel in education.
Iwill also determine the consequence of the social, economicdifference among parents. This implies that I will compare whetherchildren from higher social economic status (SES) are more or lessaffected by summer learning loss. I will provide closed-endedquestions to parents in order to gather relevant information statedin the hypothesis. For example, the SES may influence summer learningloss in that affluent parents can afford private tuition for theirchildren while children from the poor background will have to stayaway from academic enhancing environment throughout the vacation(Allingtonet al., 2010).
Accordingto theAmerican Psychological Association, Presidential Task ForceonEducational Disparities (2012),some races such as Latino, South East Asians, African American, andAmerican India often underperform academically. The evaluation willhelp to confirm whether the racial and ethnic persons have differentacademic difference. Besides, it will help in identifying the inidentifying the effect of racial difference on parents’ attitude onsummer learning loss.
Jafreet al. (2011), claims that teachers may influence academic retentionthrough emphasizing on students focusing on holiday homework. This isbecause a teacher can guide a student on the subjects to cover afteropening school. The outcome of individual surveys would then help indetermining whether teachers do assist in summer learning lossthrough giving homework and study approach to students breaking forlong holidays.
Foreasy comparison, I will use the Computer Assisted Qualitative DataAnalysis Software to classify the case study information in an easyto retrieve way. The coding software supports features such asrevising, coding, and editing, peer review, recursive examination,and work sharing (McLaughlinand Pitcock, 2009).Coding converts qualitative data into empirical themes andcategories thereby making the results statistically valid. Ananalyst can easily determine contrast ratios and real value range.
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