In the final sessions we did a bit of work planning for the writing of the study as we await some data. First, we developed a plan for data analysis which I have summarised here:
ISS data analysis instructions
We also suggested a plan was required to write the paper, so I prepared an outline, cribbed from Jess’ work, that gives a reasonably detailed description of the structure and what should be in each section:
ISS Paper Outline
Finally, I promised to do a few things before leaving in order to ensure support for the project was still in place. I have made a list of these things and will make sure I keep up my end of the bargain. I sincerely hope that we get some good data and that you can write a decent paper with it. My email for contact after March 28th will be: firstname.lastname@example.org
As promised, here is the link to the pilot questionnaire. Remember, we want people between the ages of 10-16 to take a look to see if they can make sense of what is being asked.
Any problems or recommendations for changes, please reply to this post.
A quick review of this week… We first discussed the difficulties raised in the planned research design. We then considered questions we could ask, the answers to which would allow us to determine if a young player had moved into the conventional stage of moral development (or not). I have made a list of the questions (or scenarios) on the data collection page, and also revised the design (see below).
The next two things to consider are:
- Are the questions worded such that a young player (as young as 10-years-old) could understand and answer them honestly? (we can ‘test’ them on young people if you know any);
- How are we going to recruit participants for the study, and what ethical considerations would we have to make in this process?
This week we tried to develop some testable hypotheses, based on the literature, and a relevant research design that would enable us to submit the hypotheses to criticism. I’ve tried to summarise these efforts in the diagram (below).
There are some problems with this type of design, though, many of which we pointed out in the session:
- Conducting focus groups with children and young people is difficult (do we have the skills?);
- This design demands at least 5 focus groups, each of which would take around 4-hours to transcribe and longer again to analyse (so well over 20-hours work);
- The type of data we get may not enable us to comment definitively on the hypotheses (i.e. the hypotheses imply that quantitative data might be more useful).
With these concerns in mind, it’s worth us thinking about alternative methods of data collection, which, whilst not ideal, may reflect a more realistic proposition, given the time and skills we have at our disposal.
With a very small group this week, we still managed to get some useful work done. The two main tasks completed in the session were:
- A summary of the literature as it applies to our question;
- A review of Kohlberg’s theory of moral development in children, to help answer the new questions.
In the summary of literature we tried to answer the guiding question we began with:
To what extent do professional players (role models) influence the behaviour of young football players?
The papers we read led us to the following basic answers:
- Children seem to be especially attracted to high status role models (particularly boys);
- Social Learning Theory (SLT) classes elite athletes as indirect role models;
- The influences of role models can be complex and young people can be discerning in how they interpret (and choose to follow or reject) role models’ behaviour;
- Young people can ‘compartmentalise’ the bad behaviour of role models, whilst accepting the good behaviour;
- The media tend to cast a one-dimensional picture of sporting role models, but our analysis of Luis Suarez points to a more complex picture (i.e. his on-field talent is the focus of praise; whilst his immoral behaviour – racism, diving, handballs – is condemned;
- There is little research that focuses on how role models affect children at younger ages;
- The age at which children develop the ability to make ‘complex readings’ of role models is not yet known;
- “Further research may show that young people can make informed and articulate judgements about sports stars as villains, fools and heroes” (Lines, 2001, p. 301)
So, we are left with a new, novel question that is suggested by the previous research:
At what age do young male footballers develop the ability to ‘compartmentalise’ the behaviour of professional players as either good or bad (i.e. as behaviour they should or shouldn’t imitate)?
In order to answer this question, we looked at the best known theory of moral development in children, as developed by US developmental psychologist, Lawrence Kohlberg. In short, he suggested that children develop increasingly complex moral understanding in six broad stages (opposite).
Drawing on this theory, we reasoned that the ability not to imitate bad role model behaviour would occur at stage 3 of the conventional level, as this is the point where behaviour begins to be referenced to social norms rather than personal advantage (e.g. I may get away with diving and gain an advantage (pre-conventional) but my coach says it’s wrong so I won’t do it). Other research has suggested that children enter stage 3 as early as age 10, but is more commonly seen as children enter their teens (ages 13-14 and upwards).
So, after all this, we’re in a position, I think, to write a research hypothesis: a statement about what we expect to find (or an anticipated answer to our question, based on theory). Have a go at writing one in a reply to this post…!