Linking child development research with policy and practice

Topic: Linking child development research with policy and practice
The aim of this assessment task is to develop your ability to differentiate quality of research studies within a specific child development issue. This will involve comparing 5 peer-reviewed research articles in terms of research quality.
Locate 5 articles published in the last ten years (2006 – 2016) and not included in the unit outline that report on research conducted into the following area:
Culture and child development
1. Introduce these five articles in the following narrative structure: from lowest to highest research quality. Quality is rather broad. There are several ways to evaluate quality in research:

a. Methodology. For instance, larger samples are better than smaller samples or case studies because large samples are less vulnerable to anomalous findings (e.g., one child that behaves strangely in a data set affects the entire cohort because it is a small cohort). Experimental research is the gold standard (e.g., randomly assigning participants to a specific condition) because we can infer causality. Longitudinal studies are superior to cross-sectional studies because we can track change over time and observe whether one variable (e.g., age) predicts another variable (e.g., vocabulary).

Poorly designed studies that leave open too many questions can also affect quality. Therefore, even though experimental research may be superior to a cross-sectional survey study, a poorly designed experimental study is certainly of poorer quality to a cross-sectional survey study. Design issues in a study (e.g., they said they tested a childs memory, but it could also be X, Y, or Z) can also affect quality.

b. Innovation. Research studies that answered new and important questions. A research study that developed a new method to ask an important lingering question is also innovative.

c. Usefulness. The study tells us something important about children that we can then apply in the real world to help children develop optimally, or, can help shape policy so that funding can be used efficiently. These two examples are by no means exhaustive. Usefulness of a study can be subjective so it is important you
make strong case for why one study is more useful than another.

A study does not have to meet every item to be considered quality research. However, a study that meets more of these items would be considered a higher quality study than another study that only meets one or none of these items.

2. Describe these five research studies that examine your selected topic. Your essay should explain why each study has been placed in this order. One way of doing this would be to discuss the strength and weakness of each study, and then comparing it to the preceding study to explain why Study B is better than Study A.

In your response you should describe the study in sufficient detail to explain to the reader what the researchers did. So, we will need the aims of the studies, and a broad overview of participants and methods utilised by the researchers in the studies. However, we do not need intricate details that do not add to the essay narrative. For instance, it may be important that you tell us that 200 Asian children were included in the study because it is an innovation no studies have explored Asian children to date on such a large scale. However, we may not need to know that the Peabody Vocabulary Test was included because this detail does not add to the narrative, and was only included to ensure no differences between groups on account of language development.

Explaining your ranking and integrating it within your essay narrative structure is important as it counts for 30 marks in the essay (Criteria 3 and 5). Integration means building your rationale for ranking within the text, and they usually involve critical analysis that involve comparing studies:

e.g., While Smart and Sassy (1984) were the first to explore gender differences in risky play using an observational and qualitative study, Brilliant and Idea (1992) were the first to explore this issue systematically in a quantitative study where they coded childrens play within a controlled research session. Specifically, they . . That study was superior to Smart and Sassy (1984) because.
You do not need to compare your last study to every study before it. A good narrative is not systematic (e.g., compare study 3 to study 2 and 1, then compare study 5 to all preceding study). All you need to show is that the next study is even better. If you have written your essay well, with a strong coherent narrative, then you only need to make a few statements to point out the relative strength of a study and why it is the best in the series.

3. Discuss the implications for policy and/or practice from the best study (last in your series) for practitioners working with young children and their families. Implications refer to how you would use research findings to shape the way you practice within the early childhood context. Specific implications will earn you more marks than broad implications.
o Clarke-Stewart, K. A., Lee, Y., Allhusen, V. D., Kim, M. S., & McDowell, D. J. (2006). Observed differences between early childhood programs in the U.S. and Korea: Reflections of developmentally appropriate practices in two cultural contexts. Journal of Applied DevelopmentalPsychology, 27(5), 427-443.
Connolly, P. (2011). Using survey data to explore preschool childrens ethnic awareness and attitudes. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 9(2), 175-187.
Hand, K., & Wise, S. (2004). Parenting partnerships in culturally diverse childcare settings: A care provider perspective. Research Paper No 36. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies