Final Report Year One – Importance and Limitations of Main Study

The conducting of the initial survey is highly important to the undertaking of the research for the main study this is because the initial study allowed for the addressing and testing of the methodology to be used in the main study to ensure a robust survey that will for the foundations of the research, analysis and conclusions to be drawn.

The limitation in using both surveys and interviews is that there is little flexibility in relating the questions directly to the respondent’s personal circumstances and therefore may limit the respondent in the answers given. Through the use of natural language (Kvale, 1996) ‘stimulus equivalence’ (Oppenheim, 1992) may be achieved, whereby each respondent may understand the questions set before them, even if they are unable to relate it then to their personal circumstances.

However, the use of interview questions from the pilot study and then in the main study, can result in unanticipated answers that can lead to further connections in data relationships and addressing or the creation of hypothesis (Cohen et al., 2007). These responses could potentially be categorised in Tuckman’s (1972) seven modes, of which ‘filled in response’ is most likely due to the type of questions to be posed to the respondents.

The final limitation of the main study to consider is the current absence of a survey being conducted within a presentation of a MOOC on the FutureLearn platform. Presently this is due to the formal use of surveys at the start and the end of a MOOC presentation. However, recently the use of a research survey within the presentation of a course has successfully occurred and is being repeated during its second presentation. Discussions with the Open Media Unit will need to continue to ascertain whether the main study survey could follow the same pattern as the previous research survey by being circulated via a mid-week email as an optional activity for the learners and therefore not disrupting the standardised pattern of formal surveying activity.

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