Accessible version | Skip to content | Change your text size

Table of contents

Previous pageNext page

Analysing from theory

Click on the highlighted text to see the comments.

Your observations will have different meanings when considered in light of different theoretical approaches and models, but we cannot assume that any particular interpretation discloses the "truth" about the observations. However, once you have adopted a certain theoretical model, some observations may take on quite clear and unmistakable meanings. Such certainty can arise when the data we observe falls within the definition of a theoretical term. If you are confident that within one theoretical framework the data has a clear meaning, your language may reflect that certainty. Thus, you might say:

The children's slowness to respond shows that deep processing is not yet part of their learning.

However, when there is less certainty, and this is especially so when attempting to give reasons for the phenomenon we observe, you might write:

The children's slowness to respond suggests that deep processing is not yet part of their learning.

Look at the following example of how a student introduces a theoretical perspective then proceeds to make an analysis drawing on that framework.

The writer makes three moves in this extract, as follows:

  • First, she presents the relevant observations
  • Then, she outlines the relevant theoretical points
  • Finally, she accounts for these observations in terms of the theoretical concept

[1] I noticed that when poorer students worked in groups they seemed to be more enthusiastic and willing to contribute to finding a solution to the maths questions. [2] In contrast, when they worked alone, they needed much encouragement. [3] One student frequently turned to me for help, and was reluctant for me to leave her. [4] She would ask me to give her the answers, rather than show her how to work through the problem. [5] The confidence a student feels can be understood in terms of "locus of control". [6] According to Rotter (1966) motivation is increased when a person has an "internal locus of control", that is, when the person perceive outcomes to be a result of their own abilities. [7] However, he argues that when a person feels that outcomes are a result of external forces, or experiences an 'external locus of control', they will be less motivated.

[8] When working in groups, these students demonstrated an "internal locus of control". [9] They were more willing to try and work through maths concepts in order to contribute when working in groups. [10] They developed an understanding of maths concepts more easily and readily than when working alone. [11] Good teaching then involves creating conditions where students can develop this 'internal locus of control'.

Identify the beginning of each move in the extract, using sentence numbers.

Choose the corresponding move for each sentence range.

Sentences 1-4
Sentences 5-7
Sentences 8-11

Check your answers


In the application of the theory to the observations, the writer says "When working in groups, these students demonstrated an 'internal locus of control'." There are no doubts about what was demonstrated. What justifies this certainty?

Comments

Feedback

The moves made are as follows:

[1] I noticed that when poorer students worked in groups they seemed to be more enthusiastic and willing to contribute to finding a solution to the maths questions. [2] In contrast, when they worked alone, they needed much encouragement. [3] One student frequently turned to me for help, and was reluctant for me to leave her. [4] She would ask me to give her the answers, rather than show her how to work through the problem. Account of the relevant observations
[5] The confidence a student feels can be understood in terms of 'locus of control'. [6] According to Rotter (1966) motivation is increased when a person has an 'internal locus of control', that is, when the person perceive outcomes to be a result of their own abilities. [7] However, he argues that when a person feels that outcomes are a result of external forces, or experiences an 'external locus of control', they will be less motivated. Outline of the relevant theoretical points
[8] When working in groups, these students demonstrated an 'internal locus of control'. [9] They were more willing to try and work through maths concepts in order to contribute when working in groups. [10] They developed an understanding of maths concepts more easily and readily than when working alone. [11] Good teaching then involves creating conditions where students can develop this 'internal locus of control'. Application of theory to observations

Comment

A person's confidence in his or her own resources to deal with a task constitutes "an internal locus of control". Within this theoretical framework this behaviour takes on a clear meaning. However, this does not imply that this is the only way of accounting for these observations. The writer marks this when she introduces her outline of the theoretical concept with "The confidence a student feels can be understood in terms of 'locus of control'."

word outputDownload a printable version of this page (.doc)
Problems? Questions? Comments? Please provide us feedback.