Delphi and NGT for Consensus Building E-Research

Delphi and NGT for Consensus Building E-Research

Diane P. Janes (University of Saskatchewan, Canada)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch079
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Abstract

Research is a quest, driven by a specific question, that needs an answer. Leedy (1993), in his book, Practical Research: Planning and Design, lists eight characteristics to define research. Research: 1. Originates with a question or a problem 2. Requires a clear articulation of a goal 3. Follows a specific plan of procedure 4. Usually divides the principal problem into more manageable subproblems 5. Is a specific research problem, question, or hypothesis that will guide research 6. Accepts certain critical assumptions. These assumptions are underlying theories or ideas about how the world works 7. Requires the collection and interpretation of data in attempting to resolve the problem that initiated the research 8. Is, by its nature, cyclical; or more exactly, spiral or helical Anderson and Kanuka (2003) loosely define e-research as research that takes advantage of “the excitement, breadth, and diversity offered by an ever-increasing and sometimes bewildering set of new Net-based tools and techniques” (Anderson & Kanuka, 2003, p. 4).
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Introduction

Research is a quest, driven by a specific question, that needs an answer. Leedy (1993), in his book, Practical Research: Planning and Design, lists eight characteristics to define research. Research:

  • 1.

    Originates with a question or a problem

  • 2.

    Requires a clear articulation of a goal

  • 3.

    Follows a specific plan of procedure

  • 4.

    Usually divides the principal problem into more manageable subproblems

  • 5.

    Is a specific research problem, question, or hypothesis that will guide research

  • 6.

    Accepts certain critical assumptions. These assumptions are underlying theories or ideas about how the world works

  • 7.

    Requires the collection and interpretation of data in attempting to resolve the problem that initiated the research

  • 8.

    Is, by its nature, cyclical; or more exactly, spiral or helical

Anderson and Kanuka (2003) loosely define e-research as research that takes advantage of “the excitement, breadth, and diversity offered by an ever-increasing and sometimes bewildering set of new Net-based tools and techniques” (Anderson & Kanuka, 2003, p. 4). They suggest that e-research incorporates “special tasks” that act as its boundaries (p. 5). Beyond the qualitative vs. quantitative debate that has occupied traditional research discussions, e-research is:

more than a set of new research techniques…the e-Researcher is both a participant and researcher of the environment in which the research occurs…it takes its place alongside e-commerce and e-learning as alternative ways to act, understand, and create knowledge in a networked society…[it] spans temporal distance…[and] research applications can be customized to take advantage of either synchronous or asynchronous formats – or both. E-Research permits the exploration of new fields of knowledge…[and] is concerned both with the application and adoption of tools from the real world and the invention, refinement, and calibration of a new genre of tools. (Anderson & Kanuka, 2003, p. 5-7)

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Background

When defining early research into distance learning and, more recently, online learning environments, many researchers took what they knew worked in “traditional” settings, and did their best to take their tools and skills and apply them to this “new media.” Saba (2000) and Best (1977) agree that the traditional settings and research methodology had been the “scientific” method, and that dominating education was experimental research.. The use of traditional methods, while seen as having merit, had its detractors within this new media (see Diaz, 2000, for a discussion of some of the limitations of traditional methods used within distance learning).

Johnston (1984) maintained that the freshness of the new media both required and made possible new research methodologies that are able to take into account the properties and exceptional characteristics of this media. He argued that long-established educational research methods were imperfect and did not fit because they were created for different environments. Harasim (1991) concurred. “…New communication media, particularly computer-mediated systems such as electronic mail, computer conferencing, and bulletin boards, can…facilitate not only [new]…but different forms of active and group learning…[enabling] new forms of educational interaction to study as well as new tools for conducting such research” (Harasim, 1991, p. 1-2).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Nominal Group Technique: A consensus planning technique that helps prioritize issues

E-Research: Research that takes advantage of Internet-based tools and techniques

Delphi: A consensus technique to not only to obtain consensus, but has been used to encourage visionary thinking

Consensus Building: Also known as collaborative problem solving or collaboration techniques, such as brainstorming, focus groups, techniques for managing meetings, negotiation techniques, Delphi, and NGT, are used as a resolution process mainly to settle complex disputes or issues

Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC): The process of using computers to enhance communication between students, instructors, experts, and learning resources. Can include hypermedia, e-mail, conferencing, bulletin boards, listserves, Internet, World Wide Web, and audio/videoconferencing

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