To carry out these interviews, I would take a sample of 20 sixth-formers, preferably within my own sixth-form to allow easier, speedier access and consisting equally of both males and females. In order to do this I would use quota sampling, this is a way in which variables can be controlled and the participants with similar characteristics are chosen, hence the overall sample can reflect the characteristics of the population as a whole. These samples would also preferably include students that had chosen to study any of the sciences, however particularly focusing on Biology.
This sample would also take into account ethnic and class differences in order to allow me to differentiate between males and females according to different variables, providing sufficient extra data to measure gender against class roles and the intersections. Whilst this will provide qualitative clues as to subject choices by gender it will be limited in illustrating the impact of the learning environment and gender roles, as this would demand more ‘qualitative analysis’ such as that of Anne Colleys’. However, I would expect the results to be generalisable to a wider population.
I will anchor these questions in previous research such as that of Anne Colley. Within the interviews, I am going to focus on Biology in particular when asking about the science/favourite subjects, etc. My reasons for doing this arise from the evidence that Science at GCSE level is more popular with males whereas at A-level it is more commonly chosen by females. I would begin the interviews with a number of open-ended questions, so as to give the participant a chance to provide me with worthy feedback, eg. “Why did you choose Biology? “, and “What did you think of it ?(in comparison to GCSE level), etc.
I would record the answers to these open questions as it would be time-consuming to write down many long answers, etc. This would enable me to extract a varied viewpoint on many different students perspectives of subject choice and preference. Then I would ask a series of closed-ended questions which will generally be more appropriate to achieve a table of results for clear comparisons to be made.
These closed-ended questions would include similar questions to: “Do you think Biology is a girls subject?” and “Do you think Physics is a boys subject? “, etc. Questions would be piloted on a small group of males and females to ensure its adequacy. This is in fact a small-scale preliminary study which will allow me to check that things will run smoothly during the interviews and also allow improvements to be made to the design of the research, should there be any faults. (471 words) Potential Problems As this is a such a small piece of research, it would a problem to generalise from it, especially to schools and pupils different from the sample, eg.ethnic minorities, private education, etc.
It would give an idea of the reasons in which a particular small group of students chose their ‘A’ level subjects and their own individual reasons for doing so. However it could give a fair impression of reasons for subject choice in other cases, eg. similar circumstances to other pupils studying the same subjects etc. The usage of quota sampling does have both theoretical and practical drawbacks in some circumstances.
It isn’t truly random as each person within the population doesn’t have an equal chance of being chosen. The lack of this genuine randomness may have a significant effect on the results. For example, the quota sample within my study would be only those illustrated on the biology class register, however the results may have more of an impact if a quota sample had been taken from all those who achieved a high grade at GCSE biology and were in fact considering going on to study it at a higher level, etc.
There is of course, with my research an interviewer bias. As my opinions on the topic are set by doing the research, participants may be influenced by my asking of the questions and will therefore respond by giving a respectable answer as they may find the real truth embarrassing, eg. “I fancied a lad who was taking the course”. However I am similar in status to my chosen sample group, therefore they may wish to impress or please me by giving me answers that they think I ‘want’ to hear.
Another problem may be the reliability of the interviewees memory, they aren’t currently making their choice and might not remember their thoughts on it at the time. Also during interviews, a crucial factor as a way of achieving a reliable outcome of the research is to not put ideas into the students head before having asked open-ended questions. For example, closed-ended questions especially may put forward ideas that weren’t there before and therefore mislead me about ‘their’ thoughts on the matter, etc.