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Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Research Problems Chapter 2 This multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. The following are prohibited by law: Any public performance or display, including transmission of any image over a network; Preparation of any derivative work, including the extraction, in whole or in part, of any images; Any rental, lease, or lending of the program.
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Discussion Topics Research problems Quantitative research problems Qualitative research problems
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Research Problems One or more sentences indicating the goal, purpose, or overall direction of the study General characteristics – Implies the possibility of empirical investigation – Identifies a need for the research – Provides focus – Provides a concise overview of the research
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Research Problems Two ways of stating the problem – Research problems: typically a rather general overview of the problem with just enough information about the scope and purpose of the study to provide an initial understanding of the research – Research statements and/or questions: more specific, focused statements and questions that communicate in greater detail the nature of the study
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Research Problems A general research problem – The purpose of this study is to investigate the attitudes of high school students to mandated drug testing programs Specific statements and questions – This study examines the differences between males’ and females’ attitudes toward mandated high school drug testing programs. – What are the differences between freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior students’ attitudes toward mandated high school drug testing programs?
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Research Problems Researchable and non-researchable problems – Researchable problems imply the possibility of empirical investigation What are the achievement and social skill differences between children attending an academically or socially oriented pre- school program? What is the relationship between teachers’ knowledge of assessment methods and their use of them?
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Research Problems Researchable and non-researchable problems – Non-researchable problems include explanations of how to do something, vague propositions, and value-based concerns Is democracy a good form of government? Should values clarification be taught in public schools? Can crime be prevented? Should physical education classes be dropped from the high school curriculum?
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Research Problems Quantitative problems – Specific – Closed – Static – Outcome oriented – Use of specific variables Qualitative problems – General – Open – Evolving – Process oriented
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Research Problems Sources of research problems – Personal interests and experiences The use of formative tests in a statistics class The use of technology in a research class – Deductions from theory The effectiveness of math manipulatives The effectiveness of a mastery approach to learning research
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Research Problems Sources of research problems – Replication of studies Checking the findings of a major study Checking the validity of research findings with different subjects Checking trends or changes over time Checking important findings using different methodologies – Clarification of contradictory results
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Identifies three specific elements – The type of research design – The variables of interest and the relationships between or among these variables – The subjects involved in the study
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Variables – A variable is a label of name that represents a concept or characteristic that varies (e.g., gender, weight, achievement, attitudes toward inclusion, etc.) – Conceptual and operational definitions of variables
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Conceptual and operational definitions of variables – Conceptual (i.e., constitutive) definition: the use of words or concepts to define a variable Achievement: what one has learned from formal instruction Aptitude: one’s capability for performing a particular task or skill – Operational definition: an indication of the meaning of a variable through the specification of the manner by which it is measured, categorized, or controlled A test score Income levels above and below $45,000 per year The use of holistic or phonetic language instruction
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Three types of variables defined by the context within which the variable is discussed – Independent and dependent variables – Extraneous and confounding variables – Continuous and categorical variables
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Independent and dependent (i.e., cause and effect) – Independent variables act as the “cause” in that they precede, influence, and predict the dependent variable – Dependent variables act as the effect in that they change as a result of being influenced by an independent variable – Examples The effect of two instructional approaches (independent variable) on student achievement (dependent variable) The use of SAT scores (independent variable) to predict freshman grade point averages (dependent variable)
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Extraneous and confounding variables – Extraneous variables are those that affect the dependent variable but are not controlled adequately by the researcher Not controlling for the key-boarding skills of students in a study of computer-assisted instruction – Confounding variables are those that vary systematically with the independent variable and exert influence of the dependent variable Not using counselors with similar levels of experience in a study comparing the effectiveness of two counseling approaches
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Continuous and categorical variables – Continuous variables are measured on a scale that theoretically can take on an infinite number of values Test scores range from a low of 0 to a high of 100 Attitude scales that range from very negative at 0 to very positive at 5 Students’ ages
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Continuous and categorical variables – Categorical variables are measured and assigned to groups on the basis of specific characteristics Examples – Gender: male and female – Socio-economic status: low middle, and high The term level is used to discuss the groups or categories – Gender has two levels - male and female – Socio-economic status has three levels - low, middle, and high
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Continuous and categorical variables – Continuous variables can be converted to categorical variables, but categorical variables cannot be converted to continuous variables IQ is a continuous variable, but the researcher can choose to group students into three levels based on IQ scores - low is below a score of 84, middle is between 85 and 115, and high is above 116 Test scores are continuous, but teachers typically assign letter grades on a ten point scale (i.e., at or below 59 is an F, 60 to 69 is a D, 70 to 79 is a C, is a B, and 90 to 100 is an A
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Hypotheses – Hypotheses are tentative statements of the expected relationships between two or more variables There is a significant positive relationship between self- concept and math achievement The class using math manipulatives will show significantly higher levels of math achievement than the class using a traditional algorithm approach
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Reasons for using hypotheses – To provide specific focus – To provide for the testing of the relationships between variables – To direct the investigation – To allow the investigator to confirm or not confirm relationships
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Reasons for using hypotheses – To provide a framework for reporting the results and explanations deriving from them – When supported, provides empirical evidence of the predictive nature of the relationships between variables – To provide a useful framework for organizing and summarizing the results and conclusions
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Two types of hypotheses – Inductive and deductive Inductive hypotheses are formed through inductively reasoning from many specific observations to tentative explanations Deductive hypotheses are formed through deductively reasoning implications of theory
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Two types of hypotheses – Research or statistical Research hypotheses are conjectural statements of the expected results – Directional – Non-directional Statistical hypotheses are statements of a relationship or difference that can be tested statistically – Null hypothesis – Alternative hypothesis
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Criteria for evaluating research hypotheses – Stated in declarative form – Consistent with known facts, prior research, or theory – Logical extension of the research problem – States an expected relationship between two or more variables – Can be tested – Is clear and concise
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Qualitative Research Problems Identifies a central phenomena (i.e., an issue or process) being investigated – Examples of issues Drug abuse in high schools Teacher burnout Alienation of children with special needs – Examples of processes How teachers change to standards-based curricula How students react to high stakes testing programs How students incorporate teachers’ expectations into their studies
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Quantitative Research Problems Criteria for evaluating quantitative research problems – Problem is researchable – Problem is important – Problem should indicate the type of research – Problem specifies the population being investigated – Problem specifies the variables and the relationships between or among them
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Qualitative Research Problems Characteristics – Includes a single, central phenomena – Open-ended – General in nature – Evolving, that is, problems change as data is collected and reflected upon Foreshadowed problems Emerging and reformulated questions – Neutral with respect to what will be learned No predictions No expected outcomes
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008 Qualitative Research Problems Criteria for evaluating qualitative research problems – The problem should not be too general or too specific – The problem should be amenable to change as data are collected and analyzed – The problem should not be biased with restrictive assumptions or desired findings – The problem should be written in “how” and “what” forms to focus on describing the phenomena – The problem should include a central question as well as the participants and the site
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