Keeping the topic and modifying the methodology

After meeting with Professor Uwe Hasebrink, I have some good news.

  1. This topic should be feasible even given my limitations.
  2. I will need to use somewhat unconventional methodology to answer my research question.
  3. Professor Hasebrink has agreed to be my thesis adviser.


Because interviews would be too logistically difficult with the language barrier, and survey data would be irrelevant without a large sample size, a mixed methods approach would be best to answer my research question. Methodology books are written for ideal situations, and I have discussed the limitations to sticking with one specific “existing” methodology in the previous blog post. Therefore, I will use a variety of different methods, and use triangulation in order to supplement different methodologies’ shortcomings with other methods’ strengths.

I will use unsystematic observations to observe children’s media use during and before/after classes. I watch what they do (within reason, respecting privacy) and ask questions about their media use. (This may also be integrated into class content, as in learning vocabulary and writing essays related to technology and technology use.)


For this topic of study there is no reason not to offer full transparency to the subjects, the subjects’ guardians, and the institution about what I am doing. I will present my project in the most positive light possible to the administrator of the language school, argue that my research will supplement rather than get in the way of my teaching, and argue that this research is a win-win situation for both me and the school, because the more we learn about our target group, the better we can adapt to meet their needs and improve their situations. I will need to convince people that my research poses no risk to any of the three parties.

Ethics and privacy

I would need to get permission from three parties: the subjects, the subjects’ guardians (as they do not have parents living in Germany), and the administrators of the institution. I would not publish the names of individual children or the institution in my final paper. I would preserve my subjects’ privacy and anonymity.

Keeping the topic and modifying the methodology

2 thoughts on “Keeping the topic and modifying the methodology

  1. Hi Alison, I have reviewed your research question and the modifications you have made in this most recent post.

    Research Question:

    I find your research question to be interesting and relevant given Europe’s current political climate. We have touched upon this topic in our Audience and Identities class and having an understanding of young, recently arrived refugees’ media consumption is important for a number of reasons. The first thing that comes to mind is such information could help state and local authorities in assisting with integration. Certain types of media assist in German language acquisition (as you know from my usage of Memrise and Duolingo) and figuring out the types of content and shows young Afghani migrants are consuming could help us understand things like – Are they consuming media from multiple countries? Do they make efforts to learn German on their own? Do they keep in contact with non-Afghani people in Germay?


    Sample Size

    I’m curious as to how many refugees total you will end up observing/interviewing? Was it 6? I noted that you chose Afghani students for pragmatic reasons and you don’t want to end up needing multiple translators from multiple regions.

    I understand that logistically it will be easiest to speak to people within your class but couldn’t a problem be that any conclusions you may draw are based around a very small, particular group of students? You have already noted this yourself. The short-comings of qualitative research are almost always that it is not generalisable but I’d be curious if you have any intention of expanding the research beyond your own class?

    Translator availability and cost

    Finding the right translator and having them work with you throughout the project or at the times you need them could be a problem. You’ve already recognised this issue however and it’s nothing insurmountable. Would you have to pay them? Have you already looked into the availability of different translators?

    Agreement for participation?

    Do you have an early indication of whether the students will want to be part of this? Do you think the school will mind? Hopefully these issues will be okay because this could make or break your ability to do the research. Will the guardians be okay with this? You have acknowledged this issue.

    Observation of media use –

    I’m trying to imagine how you could observe the students’ media use before or after class. Would you sit behind them and watch what was on each of their cellphone screens? Would short bursts of this type of media consumption be able to provide many insights? My initial instinct would be, being teenage boys they are most likely watching/ playing video games, watching football/ other sports, messaging friends, looking at/messaging girls. I could be completely wrong but were they to be the types of media they consume, what types of insights would that provide?

    There are types of content that they may watch that they are unlikely to want the teacher to see. Is that of interest to you?

    Would it be useful to narrow the area of media use to certain apps and social media? If you could know how much time each day they spent looking at Facebook or communicating with people back in Afghanistan, would that help?
    It seems you have gone off the idea of a survey but if it was translated properly and you focused on media consumption in the last day or week you could ask questions such as have you used the following apps/sites in the last day? How many minutes do you use them for A: 0-10 minutes B: 10-30 minutes C 30mins- 1 hour etc) What’s the main purpose of using this app?

    Once you had survey data you could ask more focused questions about their media consumption. A limitation of this would be whether or not the student’s would reply honestly or remember exactly which media they used on a given day.

    I think your question and topic is an interesting one and I shall follow your progress with interest.



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