The third chapter of this study has focused on how the objectives were attained based on the research questions that were underlying the theme under investigation. In this chapter, the research philosophy has been outlined to provide the framework under which the researcher sought to answer the questions. The section also describes the research approach and the design that was adopted to address the variable and elements associated with the topic. The strategy and the methodological choice have also been covered and how they influenced the nature of data and assessment that was carried out. The two factors defined the relationship the use of portfolios and performance by examining the core dimension of each research question. The other critical areas highlighted in this third chapter include data collection techniques and process, pilot study overview, the validity and reliability elements, and the ethical concerns associated with the methodology that was adopted.
Scholars have pointed the existence of four major study philosophies that have been commonly used in social research. According to Sahay (2016), the philosophies include positivism, realism, Interpretivism, and pragmatism. Positivism is where the objective is set on the experience and competence of the researcher to elaborate and expound what has observed based in line with the current and known theories and concept. The aim is to generate and create relevant viewpoints based on the subject being investigated. Interpretivism entails the use of observation and phenomenal assessments that have been experienced with a particular focus on discovery (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2009). Some of the techniques used in interpretivism include testing and repetition, where the researcher links what has been observed to the underpinning theories and relationships to enhance the validity of outcomes.
On the other hand, the interpretivist approach is founded on the evaluation of the relationship that exists between human as actors and their respective roles in their settings. In such a case, the interpretivist philosophy involves the attempt to understand the world from the perspective of social actors; therefore, it is possible to have diverse viewpoints in this analogy (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2009; Goward, 2015). The other philosophical approach is realism, which is based on the fact that reality exists as an independent entry segregated from the human mind. Therefore, the focus of realism is in the existing objects and every argument or postulate emanates from what can be observed or touched. In pragmatism, only the factors that can be experienced or observed are considered real. The philosophy goes to another extent to advance the realism postulates by incorporating the experience part of reality.
In this study, an interpretivistic philosophy as considered as the underpinning philosophy. The choice was based on the fact that in the interpretivistic analogy, the primary actors are the humans and they influence their surroundings. An understanding of the behaviors of actors in line with the phenomenon under investigation provides a broader picture of the impact of their interaction with the tools, systems, and environment. The advantage of this approach over the rest is that it provides the mechanism through which a link between the occurrences and artifacts can be explained. For example, the use of portfolio in student assessment is associated with significant advantages; therefore, when seeking to understand the relationship between the two elements an interpretivistic philosophy offers the essential framework (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2009). The desired to understand how humans are capable of influencing their surrounding has favored the use of this approach. The link between theory and phenomenon as well as the gathered evidence can easily be identified. Through interpretivism, the researcher was able to extensively elaborate the role that instructors and educators play in shaping the nature and approach of portfolio assessment in learning. The philosophy provided the ground for the evaluation of the measures undertaken and the influence they have on policy formation, curriculum implementation, and student experience. In such a case, the focus was set to find the possible alternatives and solutions that could be used to overcome the limitation that is emanating from the actions of the actors. A keen look at the other approaches such as realism, pragmatism, and positivism, as outlined above, indicates that they could not present the desired outcome as anticipated in this research.
The research approach is another crucial area in social studies, which elaborate the approach to theory evaluation and evidence analysis. The two most common approaches are deductive and inductive. Some scholars have come up with another type of approach called abduction; however, it is not commonly used (Sahay, 2016). A research approach is a technique used to validate the proposed hypotheses in line with the research questions under investigation (Bryman & Bell, 2015). A deductive approach involves the evaluation of assumptions and theories to determine the nature and characteristic of a particular question under investigation. The deductive approach starts from known theories or proposed hypotheses and applies a particular theoretical framework to determine the validity of the assumptions. Therefore, deductive research begins with the known postulates to determine the unknown facts.
On the other hand, an inductive approach is the opposite of the deductive research. In this case, the researcher starts with the known characteristics and perceptions to establish a new theory or belief. The approach is also responsible for the creation of new generalization based on the degree of interconnection that was witnessed while evaluating a particular topic. The use of inductive approach is standard when seeking to establish new theories based on the set of perception patterns that have been consistently observed in a population (Sahay, 2016). Abductive research is also considered valid among researchers. In this approach, the researcher focuses on unknown facts that relate to a topic and proceeds to prove those facts (Bryman & Bell, 2015). The use of abduction is rigid and focused as opposed to both inductive and deductive research.
In this study, the use of deductive approach was selected. The choice was based on the need to understand the how the existing theories depicted how the use of portfolios is central to the assessment of learners. A deductive approach was essential because it enabled the researcher to expand the topic from the theoretical dimensions to the reality that characterized assessment in schools (Goward, 2015). The use of an inductive approach could have limited the researcher to build a new theory, which was not part of the objective of this study. However, the deductive approach allowed the researcher to investigate multiple factors based on the themes of the topic and the literature review to present a comprehensive viewpoint regarding the use of portfolios in assessment in line with the gathered evidence. Moreover, the deductive approach was selected because it is appropriate and advantageous when seeking to link evidence to the existing theories (Bryman & Bell, 2015). On the other hand, abduction research was not an appropriate choice for this study because the researcher did not want to take a fixative dimension, which could have limited the study to particular perspective irrespective to how much they related to other facts not included in the abductive hypotheses.
Different research strategies have been adopted over the years to investigate various factors in social research. According to Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill (2012), Experimentation, case studies, action research, grounded theory, and ethnography are some of the common strategies used to investigate scholarly research topics. In experimentation, the researcher examines the topic through testing and manipulation of the population data to develop relationships. In a case study, the research is tailored to include a comprehensive assessment of a phenomenon in line with the underpinning theoretical frameworks. On the other hand, ethnography deals with a scientific approach to the assessment of the topic by evaluating the behaviors, culture, habits, or customs that regularly define a population.
Another key strategy is the use of grounded theory. Grounded theory is more of an inductive process, which entails the use of particular postulates that define an existing theory to explain the reasons and justification of an occurrence (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2009). The strategy incorporates a rigorous analysis to build situation-specific concepts and generate new categories from the adopted framework relating to the topic under investigation. Moreover, active research or Participatory Active Research (PAR) is an investigative strategy where participation and engagement are adopted as means of assessment. The strategy is based on the analogy that when the population under investigation is included in a particular undertaking that relates to the research topic, then it will be easy to determine the critical variables that define a concept or supports a theory.
In this study, a case study approach was selected based on the dimensions that formed the focus of the study. Case studies are essential because they provide an elaborated understanding of a subject based on the previous research or existing evidence (Soy, 2016). Case studies emphasize on details real-life contexts to build a correlational link between the factors being investigated. Furthermore, case studies allow the study to present the detailed account characterizing a particular phenomenon over a specified period. Through case studies, reasons that justify an occurrence could be evaluated through the existing theoretical framework or the previous accounts of related cases (Soy, 2016). In this study, the focus was to determine the extent to which the use of portfolio in assessment is practiced. Since some studies have already been carried out in this area, the use of case study was essential to provide a context-specific inquiry in lien with the environment in schools in Lebanon.
Research Method and Choice
Two significant research choices could be used to evaluate specific concepts in education to enhance the level of existing knowledge. Qualitative and quantitative research methods are widely applied in social investigations and surveys (Halcomb & Sharon, 2009). However, the two methods overlap to generate other advanced research choices such as the mixed method, mono-qualitative or quantitative, and multi-method. Qualitative research involves the assessment of beliefs, opinion, experiences, and perspective associated with the study topic with the objective of filling the knowledge gaps (VanderStoep & Johnston, 2009). The researcher, therefore, focuses on the non-numeric evaluation of the topic to provide the quality-based perspective associated with the investigation. On the other hand, the quantitative method involves the use of a critical assessment of the numeric data using the mathematical concepts to build relationships and indicate the magnitude aspects that define the variables incorporated in the research. The use of quantitative research is typical whenever the topic or the objectives include the combination of a set of related numerical characteristics to build a new concept or establish the evidence for an existing theory (Bergman, 2008).
In this study, the use of a qualitative and quantitative method was consider...
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