Research focus

A research focus is the problem or question you are wanting to research. In writing an account of the focus you'd give a little background to it, perhaps why it is important to you and maybe a little of what you know about the problem in terms of what other folk have found out. The scope of this unit does not require you to do any kind of literature review but having some small sense of what is "out there" around your problem is always helpful in terms of thinking through what it is you want to research. This is what we might call your rationale for the focus, i.e. why it is an important question or problem.

A common way to identify a focus or problem area is to think about some of the issues/questions you face in your work setting or may have experienced in your own education. This will help you thinking about large research questions and allow you to draw on your local knowledge to think through the process of developing your focus and rationale.

Here is an example which we will use in this Wiki to illustrate the thinking that needs to go into formulating your focus, purpose and rationale.

You work in a primary school. The school has invested a lot of time and resources into developing what to you is an effective and exciting approach to the teaching of history. The approach has been adopted by all of the teachers in the school and by most measures and accounts is working very well. The approach is, however, quite different from what is commonly used in the majority of primary schools. You have noticed that when student teachers come to the school they seem to have a lot of trouble coming to grips with this approach. What you want to do is find out what the problem is and then try and solve it.

So this is your focus. You may find it useful to tell a story or anecdote about the problem as a way of conveying more about the problem.

It is from this point that you begin to draft your initial research questions.

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