Exploring students' engagement with methodology during their M.ED. dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy in Education


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


This study 'Exploring Students' Engagement with Methodology during their M.Ed. Dissertations' is a qualitative research which aimed to explore the Masters in Education (M.Ed.) students' interactions with their research methodology during their final year research. For gauging students' methodological engagement (ME), the study particularly examined: alignment of research design elements within the paradigm employed; students' description of the research process, how it is was carried out and importantly why it was done in a particular manner; awareness of philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of their chosen methodology and methods; and reflexivity as a focus while writing the dissertation demonstrating critical choices and decisions that student had to make during research process. To generate relevant data, the study employed (a) content analysis (CA) for exploring students' ME as reflected in their dissertations and (b) semi-structured interviews for investigating students' and supervisors' views about students' ME while doing their research and writing their research. The study was conducted in a private educational institution of Pakistan. The sample included 15 qualitative case study researches for CA, 6 supervisors and 6 graduates for interviews. The analysis of the sample dissertations showed that the students' engagement with methodology varied. While majority explained their leaning towards qualitative methodology and case study approach, there was not enough explanation of the rationale behind certain decisions around the research design, data collection methods and analysis strategies in the dissertations; absence of research tool; ethics dealt at institutional requirements only and reflexivity being scarce. The analysis of interview data highlighted various factors which had contributed to students' methodological engagement. For instance, the findings revealed that given the students' educational background, conceptual understanding and English proficiency were the key hindrances for deep ME during dissertation. The study found that these students embarked on their projects with ambiguous research understanding and challenging academic writing skills. In this context, the supervision process embodied faculty supervisors' and students' constant struggle with various aspects of research. Furthermore, their struggle was exacerbated by the institutional timelines, affecting not only student-supervisor interactions but the deep learning from their research experiences. English language unit within the institution, educationally appropriate research content and supervisory dialogues are recommended for addressing students' diverse needs for improved ME in future dissertations.

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