In this research work, we intend to employ such method as meta-analysis. Overall, it can be defined as a set of statistical techniques, which enable to juxtapose the results of separate studies and find common tendencies in them (Littell et al, 5). Its essence lies in the identification of effect size or the relations between two variables or phenomena. In particular, we need to focus on such issues as beliefs and attitudes of teachers towards mathematics (dependent variable) and the factors, determining their perception of this subject (independent variable). We have chosen this approach because it has several advantages over other methods especially if we are speaking about classical literature review.
First, unlike many quantitative techniques, it is more objective, because in this case, a researcher has to include a wider range of studies, which may either consistent or even inconsistent with each other. Very often, while trying to substantiate their argument, scholars select on those sources, which do not contradict their initial hypothesis, and this inevitably leads to bias and distortion of results. In addition to that, unlike many quantitative methods such as surveys, structured interviews, meta-analysis is more time efficient, especially, if the topic itself has been thoroughly examined (Lipsey et al, 17).
The main peculiar feature of meta-analysis is its capacity to ascertain the regularities in separate studies. In this case, we have given preference to it because of time limitation. Nevertheless, this method has several shortcomings: it is not always possible to draw parallels between several types of research due to the discrepancies, which may exist between measurement and sampling (Cohen et al, p 220).
Furthermore, we may run a risk of the so-called “file drawer effect”, which means that some studies simply may not be published and some relevant findings will be inaccessible (Wolf, 17). Occasionally, the researcher cannot locate small-scale investigations, which may be suitable for his own project. This can result in overgeneralization and bias. This limitation of meta-analysis often casts doubt on the validity of the results.
In this paper, we are going to combine this method with narrative review. One may suggest that these methods are incompatible with each other, because meta-analysis attaches primary importance to quantitative representation of findings, however, it should be pointed out that some parameters can hardly be described in numerical ways. Moreover, narrative review is more effective for summarization, interpretation and drawing conclusions.
On the whole, the validity of this research significantly depends upon the identification of relevant studies. When the major question has been formulated, we should start the searching procedure. At the very beginning, we should search for the sources, which present explore the factors, influencing teachers perception of their subjects. They do not necessarily need to focus on mathematics in particular, because at first we need to get understanding of most general mechanisms.
The second stage involves the selection of those articles, examining mathematics. Again, the findings of these scholars may not be in line with one another but we must not sift out those studies that do not meet our criteria or do not confirm the thesis.
We can single out several criteria, according to which the articles can be selected, for example, the correspondence to the topic of discussion. First and foremost, the sources should deal with such issue as teachers attitudes towards their subjects. Secondly, while conducting this research, one must pay special attention to the credibility and liability of these studies, because, the presence of poorly designed studies reduces meta-analysis to zero. As regards, the exact timelines, several scholars suggest that the studies must not be fifteen years (Lipsey, 123). This criterion varies in different fields of science, but for education such timelines are acceptable.
In this respect, we should mention that the attitudes of teachers towards mathematics have seldom been discussed and relevant articles appeared only in late nineties. The search mechanism will primarily rely on Boolean logic, specifically on AND/OR operators, which allow to narrow down the scope of the material. Nonetheless, there is likelihood that some studies may be omitted, because Web engines look only for the word match, but occasionally, they disregard the synonyms and notions similar in meaning.
The sources will be collected from Educational Resource Information, Google Scholar, Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, Journal of Teacher Education, International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, Teaching and Teacher Education and Science Direct databases. The number of sources will be limited to 30. Finally by identifying the major findings in these articles, we will be able to trace common tendencies. Eventually, this will allow us to pinpoint educators perceptions of mathematics, and those aspects that shape their views of this subject.
Therefore, we can arrive at the conclusion that meta-analysis can be very helpful for the discussion of separate studies. However, this method is effective only if the compulsory standards are met, name objective selection of sources and most importantly the absence of bias while interpreting the results.
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Lipsey. M. Wilson. D. “Practical meta-analysis”. SAGE, 2000.
Littell. J. Corcoran. J. “Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis”. Oxford University Press US, 2008.
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