An overview of the research study with a detailed account of the research design explaining the data sources, methods used, research instrument of data collection, variables included, sample population and sample size is presented in this chapter. The research context and the rationale for the research design or framework is also presented. However, in this chapter presents the research methodology, respondents of the study, data collection method and data analysis of data used for this research. The qualitative and quantitative methods were used to conduct research and validate research findings are also discussed in this chapter.
3.2 Research Methodology
The descriptive-survey method of research utilising a questionnaire formulated by the researcher himself and supplemented by informal interview and observation were used in the conduct of this study. The research method that will be used for this study was the descriptive method of research. Two types of the descriptive method were used. These were the descriptive survey method and the descriptive evaluation method.
Creswell (1998) defines qualitative research as an inquiry process of understanding based on distinct methodological tradition of inquiry that researches a social or human problem. In this study, data were gathered from the college students and faculty members of the selected universities in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The primary source of data will be the information given by the respondents through a survey questionnaire that was formulated by the researcher. (See Appendix C). As quantitative type of research, it presented the data collected using tabular and textual forms. All data were collected, verified, analysed and interpreted specifically the variables of the study.
The use of questionnaire is considered as the main instrument supplemented by personal interview in gathering the data. However, there are no official and agreed-upon guidelines on how to conduct an unstructured interview. But in practice, many researchers comply with the steps listed below (Punch, 1998; Fontana & Frey, 2005) when planning and conducting unstructured interviews.
Step 1: Getting in: accessing the setting. Various difficulties in gaining access to research settings have been documented, especially when the researcher is an “outsider” in the environment. Negotiation techniques and tactics are required in this situation. The researcher also has to take into consideration the possible political, legal, and bureaucratic barriers that may arise during the process of gaining access to the setting (Lofland et al., 2006).
Step 2: Understanding the language and culture of the interviewees. A primary focus of an unstructured interview is to understand the meaning of human experiences from the interviewees’ perspectives. Thus, unstructured interviews are governed by the cultural conventions of the research setting. This requires that the researcher can understand the interviewees’ language and, further, its meanings in the specific cultural context of the research setting (Minichiello et al., 1990; Fife, 2005).
Step 3: Deciding on how to present one self. An unstructured interview is a two way conversation. The quality of the conversation is influenced, to a great extent, by how the interviewer represents him- or herself. The interviewer’s self representation will depend on the context he or she is in, but in all cases, the interviewer is a “learner” in the conversation, trying to make sense of the interviewee’s experiences from his or her point of view.
Step 4: Locating an informant. Not every person in the research setting will make a good informant. The informant (i.e., the interviewee) will be an insider who is willing to talk with you, of course. But even more importantly, the informant must be knowledgeable enough to serve as a guide and interpreter of the setting’s unfamiliar language and culture (Fontana & Frey, 2005).
Step 5: Gaining trust and establishing rapport. Gaining trust and establishing rapport is essential to the success of unstructured interviews. Only when a trustful and harmonious relationship is established will the interviewee share his or her experience with the interviewer, especially if the topic of the conversation is sensitive. When endeavoring to cultivate rapport, the interviewer might need to be careful: it’s easy to become so involved with your informants’ lives that you can no longer achieve your research purposes (Fontana and Frey, 2005).
Step 6: Capturing the data. Note-taking is a traditional method for capturing interview data. But in an unstructured interview, note-taking is likely to disrupt the natural flow of the conversation. Thus, when possible, it is preferable to audio record the interviews by tape or digital recorder.
Aim and Objectives
Review of Related Literature
(Foreign & Local)
Prepare a Survey Questionnaire
Synthesize and Analysis
on the Literature Review
Gaps Bridged by the Study
Determine Qualitative and
Quantitative type of research
Interpretation of Data in
Findings, Conclusions, & Recommendations
Figure 3.1 Research Design
In situations where only note-taking is possible, you will need to take brief notes during the interview, writing up more detailed notes immediately after each interview (Fontana and Frey, 2005, Lofland, et al., 2006).
The above framework (Figure 3.1 Research Design) covers the essential of the research design. It would be an activity and time based plan based on the research questions. It would guide the types of information to be collected and from what source. It would be a framework for specifying the relationship among the study’s variables. Hence, the design outlines procedures for every research activity.
Finally, after the collection of data from both primary and secondary sources, the analysis process will be conducted using the qualitative type of research or qualitative analysis method will be considered and interpreted. The common statistical tools were frequency count and percentage distribution which were in the nominal measures. The weighted mean will be used to treat data that were in the interval measures. The data were then coded for used in the statistical computerization.
3.3 Respondents of the Study
The respondents of this study are the faculty members and students in selected universities in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The stratified random sampling will be applied in selecting the samples for the study. Stratified random sampling is the process of selecting randomly, samples from the different strata of the population used in the study as stated by Burnham, et. al. (2004). Proportional percentage shall be computed after determining the samples. In this study, the research population consists of respondents who are the e-learning students and faculty of the selected universities. These respondents have direct knowledge and proper position to evaluate the quality assurance in e-learning. The distribution of respondents by university is shown in Table 3.1.
There are a total of ______ faculty members and ______ students from University of Bahrain (UOB), Ahlia University (AU), Royal University for Women (RUW), Delmun University (DU), The Kingdom University (KU), and Arab Open University (AOU). From the total population of ______, there were ______ sample respondents were taken.
Moreover, the population will be drawn from the sampling frame. A sampling frame includes the actual list of individuals included in the population (Nesbary, 2000) which was approximately _____ respondents. According to Patten (2004), the quality of the sample affects the quality of the research generalizations. Nesbary (2000), suggests the larger the sample size, the greater the probability the sample will reflect the general population. However, sample size alone does not constitute the ability to generalize.
According to Patten (2004), states that obtaining an unbiased sample is the main criterion when evaluating the adequacy of a sample. Patten also identifies an unbiased sample as one in which every member of a population has an equal opportunity of being selected in the sample. Therefore, random sampling was used in this study to help ensure an unbiased sample population. Because random sampling may introduce sampling errors, efforts were made to reduce sampling errors, and thus increasing precision, by increasing the sample size and by using stratified random sampling. To obtain a stratified random sample, the population was divided into strata according to institutions as shown in Table 3.1.
3.4 Data Collection Method
The data collected in this dissertation is through the primary and the secondary data collection methods. The primary sources of data came from the responses of the faculty and students of selected universities in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The secondary sources were secured from books, pamphlets, unpublished materials and other articles related to the quality assurance and e-learning in higher education institutions. The main data gathering instrument that shall be used in this study is a questionnaire based on the objectives and specific research problems on the effective quality assurance in e-learning. Informal interview shall also be conducted during the dry-run to improve the instrument as well as to provide inputs on the validity of the questionnaire. The questionnaires shall be distributed personally and retrieved as soon as the respondents accomplished them to gain a high percent of retrieval rate. Interviews are a widely used tool to access people’s experiences and their inner perceptions, attitudes, and feelings of reality. Based on the degree of structuring, interviews can be divided into three categories: structured interviews, semi-structured interviews, and unstructured interviews (Fontana & Frey, 2005). A structured interview is an interview that has a set of predefined questions and the questions would be asked in the same order for all respondents.
In the preparation of the draft of the questionnaire, the researcher shall conduct informal interviews with various key informants to have wider perspectives about drafting research instruments. A transmittal letter requesting permission from the selected universities will be secured by the researcher. Based from the information gathered the researcher will be able to formulate the draft of the questionnaire. However, in the validation of the questionnaire, the questionnaire shall undergo the necessary validation procedure to ascertain that the data intended to be gathered will be useful for the study. For this reason, the draft shall be shown to persons with experience in thesis writing and will be requested to give comments on the format, contents and other aspects of the questionnaire. Likewise, the questionnaire shall be subjected to the scrutiny of the researcher’s adviser. The researcher shall prepare the questionnaire in a manner in which it could be self-administered so that the respondent will be able to answer with less help from others or no assistance at all. Revisions shall be made after the first dry run to improve and enhance the research instrument.
The revised draft will be shown to the adviser for comments and suggestions. After all the comments are considered, it will be tested in a dry-run to find out which items still need to be polished. A dry-run will be conducted to find out if there are items which are vague to the respondents and need to be simplified or expanded. The adequacy of the time for the respondents to answer and the readability of the questionnaire shall also be considered. The questionnaires will be distributed personally at a time convenient for the respondents so as not to interfere with their normal work schedule. To ensure proper interpretation, the researcher shall make himself available during the time the questionnaires are being accomplished. The questionnaires retrieved from the respondents shall be properly labeled or coded as to university and type of respondents to facilitate the tabulation process.
3.5 Data Analysis
The evaluation of each area of focus will be interpreted using the frequency count, weighted mean, percent, and rank statistics. The mean of each area will be obtained using the formula: x = Î£x/N (Downie and Heat, 1970)
The numerical findings of the study will be statistically analysed and interpreted using the frequency count. Since most of the options are Likert Scale type, weights and corresponding adjectival descriptions. These are Strongly Agree (SA), 5; Agree (A), 4; Neither Disagree nor Agree, (NDA), 3; Disagree (D), 2; and Strongly Disagree (SD), 1. The collated responses were be subjected to Mean Weighted Average (MWA) analysis, using the formula: MWA = fw/N (Treece, 1986)
Not achieved success factor
On the other hand, the following range and interpretation were utilised to determine the key challenges and strategies that institution faces in supporting instructors in the use of technology, the weighted mean will be used. As shown,
Finally, to determine the statistical analysis on the suggestions to improve the e-learning, the frequency count and ranking were used.
3.6 Ethical Considerations
In the conduct of the study, the researcher will prepare a letter of request to the Dean of the Graduate School of Brunel University and to the Brunel Ethics Committee for approval. A formal letter will be prepared by the researcher and addressed it to the Chairman/President of the Selected Universities and Colleges in the Kingdom of Bahrain to use the survey questionnaire. The said instrument will serve as the basis in the preparation of the research study to determine the effective quality assurance in e-learning: challenges and strategies. Finally, the responses from interviews and survey questionnaires are kept confidential.
This chapter presented the research methodology and the data analysis methods used to conduct this research. This chapter includes both the primary and secondary data collection methods. The qualitative research method will be used to interpret the data collected from the respondents based from the survey questionnaires since the study made use of the Likert Scale rating. The next chapter presents the data analysis and findings of the study.