CONDUCTING RESEARCH AND COMPLETING A RESEARCH ASSIGNMENT
It is not clear if the writers of Unit Standard 10301 – Complete a research assignment and Unit Standard 10292 – Conduct research and liaison relevant to the learning situation, comprehend-ded that not only people with pre-graduate qualifications or higher will participate in this training.
The course provided at Mentornet over the period 6 – 10 March 2017 is a case in point in this regard. Some of the learners without pre-graduate or higher qualifications struggled with the theoretical and practical aspects of the course.
Consequently, the problem must be stated, what should be presented in these unit standards and to whom? The unit standards (SAQA Registered Unit Standards) stipulate that it is imperative that the discussion of the research problem must be supplemented with an understanding of ontology and epistemology as the theoretical framework for the presentation of a course on research. This is further complicated with discussions on the research paradigms and methodologies, although last named was better understood.
To answer the question what should be presented, one should first determine what is research.
Davis (Davis in Du Plooy-Cilliers, Davis and Bezuidenhout,eds: 2) claims that research is important to everyone as we all have to understand people, who are complex entities, that groups of people can be seen as systems and how they relate to one another should be understood in order to understand the world that we live in. Neuman (Neuman: 1, 8) states that social science is pervasive, and it affects our daily life as well as that of our family, friends, neighbours and co-workers. However, to make sense of this process, a scientific approach is needed and a scientific approach is based on theory on how to approach the study (epistemology) and of the reality (ontology).
The epistemological basis of theory of knowledge also implies a comprehension of the evolution of the different approaches or paradigms of research from the absoluteness of posivitism to the interpretive and eventually in the 20th century the critical approach that provided the basis for action research, the approach followed by most people in Educational Sciences (Carr & Kemmis: 51 – 207). Without this theoretical foundation, the rest of the research process such as methodologies and techniques will be like a building without a foundation. Understanding methodology – the methods of collecting data and interpreting it – the process is a logical undertaking up the writing of the final research report. Consequently, people without at least a pre-graduate qualification must understand what they are in for or choose another unit standard to complete their qualifications.
1. Carr, W. & Kemmis, S. 1990. Becoming Critical – Education, Knowledge and Action Research, London, Falmar Press.
2. Du Plooy-Cilliers, F., Davis, C., & Bezuidenhout, R. (eds.). 2014. Research Matters,
Cape Town, Juta.
3. Neuman, W.L. 2014. Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative
Approaches, Essex, Pearson.
4. South African Qualifications Authority – Published Unit Standards.