Uploaded by Balnura kydyrbayeva

Mini-research proposal

EDSE 600: Research Methods I
Professor: Anna CohenMiller, PhD
Mini-Research Proposal
“Contextualizing and Practicing Personalized Learning: A Qualitative Case Study of 8th
Grade Teachers in Nazarbayev Intellectual School (NIS) in Southern Kazakhstan”
Balnura Kydyrbayeva
Nazarbayev University
Graduate School of
November 13, 2019
New types of learning are being implemented in Kazakhstan annually. Personalized
learning (PL) is one of initiatives has been implemented since this year. The main goal of PL
is covering the program of two years within one year. PL aims at developing students’
autonomy and teaches them to be responsible for their learning. Childress & Benson (2014)
highlight that PL meets learner`s individual needs, interests and skills. It is crucial to identify
teachers` perception about PL in order to foresee the future result of the program. The
benefits of PL are positive effect on learner`s performances and achievements as well as
motivation to become a lifelong learner. Interview and focus group will be main tools in
collecting data. Participants will be 8th grade teachers who currently practice PL in NIS in
southern Kazakhstan. My findings will be used as recommendations for practitioners and
policymakers to implement PL successfully. Moreover, as PL is not researched in Kazakhstan
before it will be beneficial for all teachers, principals and vice principals and will be a
starting point for further investigation.
Key words
Personalized learning, learners` autonomy, teachers` perceptions, accelerating student
learning, personal learning and student-centered instructional model.
The topic under investigation
Childress & Benson (2014) defined PL like accelerating learning through adapting the
learning environment to meet students’ needs and skills. It is a main mechanism which is
aimed at student-centered approach. Today PL is an innovative program which is being
implemented in all NIS schools. Thus, it is considered to be a topical issue. I want to conduct
a research about PL in order to find out teachers’ perceptions about the program and to share
the findings of effectiveness or ineffectiveness of it. As I am a part the school community
where the research will be conducted, I would like to make a contribution to further
successful implementation of the program in my school. Although NIS students are gifted, it
will affect students’ psychology and performance due to complicated program of the school.
Students are overloaded but with the implementation of PL their load will be doubled.
Therefore, students who will experience PL while covering the program of two grades within
one year should be encouraged and supported by the school community. The findings of my
research will be beneficial for teachers who practice PL as they will be informed about
general teachers’ perceptions as well as benefits and drawbacks of the program from their
perspectives. As for researchers, they will have insights about PL which will contribute to
their further investigation of the issue. Also, as PL is an innovative program in Kazakhstan
which is not researched before, it will be a starting point for studying the topic thoroughly in
the future.
Literature review
PL is a program which is being piloted in all NIS schools. It is an innovative program for
Kazakhstan in terms of involving gifted children in the process. The international
terminologies dual enrollment or dual credit system were used in the USA, while in Russia
term external studies were used.
Mansell & Justice (2014) stated that in order to fulfill the government goal of increasing
the number of students in higher education and make the transitions easier; the initiative of
using dual credit system was approved. It helped students to cover high school and college
curriculum at the same time. The focus was only on high school. However, in Russia
external studies were used from elementary school to high school. Shmankevich (2016)
reviewed the evolution of external studies in Russia when students covered the program
without attending the classes. External studies were designed for 14 different groups of
students including students who were bored by the program and were talented enough to
cover two years program within a year. It was highlighted that the load was challenging even
for talented students and it had an impact on students` psychology.
Bingham, Pane, Steiner, & Hamilton (2018) pointed out that PL leads to improvement of
students` performances as well as demands from teachers using tools like computer and the
latest approaches in teaching. PL affect positively on less abled students and more abled
students equally. PL consists of four main parts: 1) students profiles where information about
learners’ aims, strong and weak sides are kept; 2) students’ learning paths which are changed
according to each learner`s motivation, progress and aims; 3) assessment of students’
progress which encourages students to achieve their goals (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
2014, as cited by Bingham et al., 2018). These key components can be used in implementing
PL in Kazakhstan. Chuong, Mead, & Bellwether (2014) pointed out the importance of using
electronic appliances in effective use of PL. Gross, DeArmond & Center on Reinventing
Public Education (CRPE) (2018) also supported the idea of using digital tools such as flipped
classroom one type of blended learning focused on activities outside the classroom. In their
research the majority of teachers used videos and students completed the task depending on
their pace.
Research purpose statement
The primary purpose of the research is to identify teachers’ perceptions on PL. As this
initiative is being used in my school I want to study deeply the issue which in turns will help
adapt the program regarding the findings. Later teachers who will experience the PL program
will make changes taking into account the findings which will be spread to other NIS
teachers because the benefits and drawbacks will be investigated during the study. Methods
of research will be focus groups and interviews with teachers practicing PL. Moreover, in
order to make my study more credible I will ask other teachers from NIS to take part in my
research. Interviews and focus groups will be the best ways to identify how teachers perceive
the PL and about its strengths and weaknesses.
Research questions
1. How is personalized learning understood by 8th grade NIS teachers in Southern
2. How do teachers perceive the benefits of personalized learning, if at all?
3. How do teachers perceive the drawbacks of personalized learning?
Philosophical statement
The interpretive or constructivist worldview described by Leavy (2017) will be used in my
research. As the theoretical framework phenomenology will be used which focuses on
participants’ personal opinions. Phenomenologists` aim is to study experiences, perceptions
and understandings of participants concerning the topic. After that investigation participants’
perceptions and experiences will be analyzed.
Genre/design and methods of data collection
Methods of data collection will be interviews and focus groups consisting of 8th grade
teachers who practice PL from NIS in southern part of Kazakhstan. I will use in-depth
interviews where participants will not have ready answers since the questions will be openended and will require using their own languages. In my research semi-structured questions
will be used as these questions encourage interviewees to give full answers and they can give
extra information which will be used later in my study. While asking interview questions I
will start from general questions to specific ones in order to logically structure my research. If
participants will hesitate, give short answers or struggle while answering I will use probes to
direct them and to push to speak more about the topic. Focus groups and participants will
undergo face-to-face interviews. In order to make my research more credible I will use
conversation and interview and reflexivity notes.
Sampling, participants and setting
While choosing participants I will not pay attention to demographics of participants but
will choose them according to their experiences. In focus group will be involved six teachers
who currently teach PL in 8th grade on a voluntary basis. The main participant criteria will be
having at least 3 years of teaching experience. In addition, in order to have credible and
reliable results I will conduct an interview with 15 teachers who currently teach 8 th grade
students and practice PL. The participant criteria will be the same as for focus group. I will
use snowball sampling to interest participants, as it is an innovative program teachers will
have a desire to share their positive or negative experiences with others. The research will be
conducted in artificial setting as my data collection methods are interview and focus groups.
Data analysis and interpretation strategies
Data analysis and interpretation are significant while conducting a qualitative research.
After conducting an interview it is necessary to transcribe interview recordings. First step is
to collect data from interviews separately in different files. Second step is to look at the data
to get general insights. Then each interview should be reviewed thoroughly by taking notes,
highlighting and underlining key words and phrases (Saldaña 2014, as sited in Leavy 2017).
As my research topic is identifying teachers` perceptions In vivo coding will be used. In
comparison with other coding tools by using In vivo teachers` perceptions and feelings will
be described in details. Also it will allow using participants` language in the research. After
that the data will be categorized by themes. While coding it is crucial to write memos where
researchers’ thoughts, feelings, understandings and comments will be written. The last step is
interpreting data by using memos and patterns.
In order to find out how teachers perceive PL I will interview my colleagues since they
are currently practicing it in the school. The research will contribute to further development
of the program or to changes which will be made after conducting the study. Semi-structured
interview questions will make the research credible as not only open-ended but also closed
questions will be asked, which in turns will assist in getting trustworthy data. The design and
language of the study will be comprehensible for all readers.
The intended audience of the research will be teachers, principals, vice principals as well
as researchers who are interested in PL. The best way of presenting the findings will be
writing an article and publishing it in the journal. Also the findings can be presented in the
conferences for the school community.
Ethics statement
All participants will be chosen on a voluntary basis. Before conducting a research they
will sign a consent letter. Participants will be guaranteed confidentiality. At the beginning
they will be informed about beneficence and risks. If participants will refuse taking part in the
research their desire will be fulfilled. Being experienced teaching 8th grade students I will
include my feelings, reactions towards the topic while conducting the research.
Bingham, A. J., Pane, J. F., Steiner, E. D., & Hamilton, L. S. (2018). Ahead of the Curve:
Implementation Challenges in Personalized Learning School Models. Educational
Policy, 32(3), 454–489. https://doi.org/10.1177/0895904816637688
Childress, S., & Benson, S. (2014). Personalized learning for every student every day: the
best hope for accelerating student achievement is by using a range of pedagogical and
technological innovations that deliver personalized learning to each student. Phi Delta
Kappan, (8). Retrieved from
Chuong, C., Mead, S., & Bellwether Education Partners. (2014). A Policy Playbook for
Personalized Learning: Ideas for State and Local Policymakers. Bellwether
Education Partners. Bellwether Education
Partners. Retrieved from
Gross, B., DeArmond, M., & Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE).
(2018). Personalized Learning at a Crossroads: Early Lessons from the Next
Generation Systems Initiative and the Regional Funds for Breakthrough Schools
Initiative. Center on Reinventing Public Education. Center on Reinventing Public
Education. Retrieved from
Leavy, Patricia. (2017). Research design: Quantitative, Qualitative, Mixed Methods, ArtsBased, and Community-Based Participatory Research Approaches. New York:
Guilford Press.
Mansell, N., & Justice, M. (2014). Learning from the Past: Dual Credit. Administrative Issues
Journal: Connecting Education, Practice, and Research, 4(1). Retrieved from
Shmankevich, T. Y. (2016). Evolution of school of external studies: concepts, practices,
issues. SOTSIOLOGICHESKIE ISSLEDOVANIYA, (9), 73. Retrieved from
Appendix 1
September – ethics forms submitted to NU IREC
October – planning for implementation
November – interview protocol development
December - pilot testing of interview and focus group protocol
January – recruitment and interviews of participants
Appendix 2
Necessary things
Recruitment letters 21
Consent letters 21
Amount of money
210 tg
500 tg
210 tg
Appendix 3
Interview questions
1 What do you know about PL?
2 Could you describe you experience of practicing PL?
3 What are benefits of PL to you?
4 What are benefits of PL to students?
5 What are benefits of PL to parents?
6 Are there any challenges you face while practicing PL?
7 What are drawbacks of PL to you?
8 What are drawbacks of PL to students?
9 What are drawbacks of PL to parents?