Nov 10, 2017 in Personal

My Research Challenges

Students with disabilities do not develop in a vacuum. They are part of a larger context where family members and the community at large play a big role in educating and keeping them healthy. Research involving students with learning disabilities is inevitable.  Researchers are continually studying better ways of developing these students to improve their learning and living environments.

Primary research challenges

Research for student with learning disabilities presents major challenges to researchers. Gaining access to students with learning disabilities is not an innocent undertaking because such entries are always fraught with ethical considerations. Hollowa (2005) says that not all participants with learning disabilities are so articulate hence they may be seen as poor informants. Restricted language skills exacerbated by low self-esteem and social isolation may imply that people with learning disabilities would make poor participants in research and present a major challenge. Accessing potential research participants is a challenging task because some people with disabilities do not trust the researchers and may have other priority concerns (Hollowa, 2005).

The second challenge is gathering the appropriate research data for students with learning disabilities. Odom, Horner & Snell (2009) says that this relates to challenges of obtaining valid data in the essence of acquiescence that is the tendency to say yes to questions regardless of their content. It also relates to response biases, problems in understanding multiple choice and likert-type questions and questions about what usually happens or about general findings. The challenge of obtaining research data from people with intellectual disabilities has led to the use of proxy respondents, people who know the target person well and can provide information about his or her life (Odom, Horner & Snell, 2009). This challenge is largely driven by limited communication skills of many individuals which leave the researcher with no choice but to rely on the data of those who know the students.                 

Methods of Addressing the Challenges

In order to address the challenge associated with access to participants, it is worthwhile to employ focus groups. Freeman & Tyre (2006) noted that focus groups for research for students with learning disabilities are suitable to studies associated with attitudes and experiences. Focus groups are less intimidating than individual interviews for people with learning disabilities and therefore they improve access to participants. The use of naturally occurring groups can make the participants more relaxed and able to support each other and prompt others to comment on experiences or views that they had already shared (Freeman & Tyre, 2006). Research can overcome this challenge through working with gatekeepers, using insiders to assist with access to participants.

To overcome the challenge of access to data, interviewers working with students with learning disabilities should paraphrase questions in order to increase understandability and prompt accurate response and data. Odom, Horner & Snell (2009) says that behavioral self-report data which involves asking questions about observable behavior should be used as a way to increase data accuracy. Observation should be sued because it is a more objective method of data collection. This method can be appropriate to obtain data about students with learning disabilities because it is less influenced by the biases and subjective perceptions of participants.     

Research Skills

Research is the basis for the development of programs and policies that affect large numbers of people. The skills in research are used to generate new theories and ideas to further enhance the effectiveness of a researcher (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2008). My practical and intellectual skills assist me in conducting and writing research report. The practical and intellectual skills include gathering and organizing data, planning time and scheduling work, selecting appropriate information, negotiating and other interpersonal skills. My evaluation skills enable me to determine whether what I do as a researcher is effective or not. My research skills also entail logical references skills which enable me to make effective choices in research practices. As a researcher my logical references skills are fundamental in evaluating the effectiveness of service provision at all levels of research (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2008).

Some of the areas that need improvement in research are communication skills. Gulati (2009) says that good communications skills ensure that the supervisory relationship is maintained by keeping in contact and maintaining goodwill. The research ideas must be communicated clearly to stakeholders (Gulati, 2009). Communication skills can be used to build and improve research dexterity. One should build his adept negotiation skills and self-motivation which reflect emotional maturity and at the same time demonstrate good management skills in order to strengthen research capabilities.     


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