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Developing the Research Question: From Interest to Science Samuel R. Mathews, PhD. The University of West Florida Pensacola, Florida, USA and Visiting.

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Presentation on theme: "Developing the Research Question: From Interest to Science Samuel R. Mathews, PhD. The University of West Florida Pensacola, Florida, USA and Visiting."— Presentation transcript:

1 Developing the Research Question: From Interest to Science Samuel R. Mathews, PhD. The University of West Florida Pensacola, Florida, USA and Visiting Professor Tallinn Pedagogical University Tallinn, Estonia

2 Sources of the “Idea” –Personal experiences Family Personal educational history Friends Local, regional, national events –Professional experiences As a teacher As a school leader With colleagues, school leaders, others As part of a community

3 Sources of the “Idea” Professional reading –Professional journals –Texts for classes –Ministry reports Institutional interest –School policy statements, mission, vision –Ministry priorities, official positions –Parliamentary legislation

4 Sources of the “Idea” Regardless of the source, the topic is best served when you have an interest in it and it reflects something of your values, passions, or professional goals; When the source of the idea is based on a very close personal theme, a personal bias could cloud the ability to approach the topic scientifically

5 Ways of “knowing”—Systems of Inquiry Intuition—it just seems so; all my feelings point to the answer; Faith/belief—based on my values and my firm commitment to a set of principles it is so; Authority—this or that person is a powerful person and so, the views must be correct;

6 Ways of “knowing”—Systems of Inquiry Common sense— –all my personal experiences lead me to a conclusion; my experiences are varied and extensive, my conclusions must be correct; Rational method— –based on logic emerging from “self-evident” truths; proof for “self-evident” truths is not required These “ways of knowing” are all valuable to our everyday lives but, our profession demands more;

7 Ways of “knowing”—Systems of Inquiry Science—systematic inquiry into natural phenomenon; Goals of a Scientific Inquiry Describing Predicting Understanding/Explaining Applying

8 Describing Definition—list and elaborate the key attributes of the phenomenon under study; What are the main attributes of the phenomenon we are studying? Differentiation--set some phenomenon apart from others; How is the phenomenon we are studying different from other related ones?

9 Describing Recording, measuring, or counting examples of the phenomenon; How do I know when the phenomenon occurred? Relationships between the phenomenon of interest and other, related phenomena; How is the phenomenon I am studying related to other phenomena?

10 Predicting Forecasting—estimating with some degree of certainty outcomes at a future time on some measure of performance at an earlier time; Hypothesizing—given a set of conditions based on a theory, some specific change in a particpant's behavior might be predicted;

11 Understanding or Explaining Most difficult of the goals of science to achieve; The aim is to establish that changes in one factor or set of factors causes change in participant's performance on some task; This is a major part of building or testing a theory;

12 Understanding or Explaining Criteria for Establishing Causal Relationships: –When there is a change in one factor, there is a change in the second factor (covariation) –The change in the factor associated with the cause always precedes a change in the factor associated with the effect (precedence) –The factor (or factors) claimed to be the cause must be the most likely and alternative explanations must be eliminated;

13 Scientific inquiry provides a strong and powerful base from which to develop new approaches and evaluate existing practices; Questions that arise from individuals in the field of psychology frequently address: –Impact of new approaches to prevention or intervention –Evaluation of existing practices; –Theory testing or theory building; Applying Results of Scientific Inquiry

14 Characteristics of Scientific Inquiry Empirical—data are based on observable evidence Public—rationale, procedures and methods, analyses, results, and interpretations are subjected to public evaluation Tentative—considers alternative interpretations and conclusions and reflects opposing viewpoints;

15 Characteristics of Scientific Inquiry Non-trivial--the importance of the question with regard to theory, informing practice, or resolving contradictions in a field is clearly established; Based in existing literature—researcher links premises underlying research question or problem statement with empirical and theoretical literature.

16 Research Questions and Problem Statements Specify key constructs or concepts to be addressed Specify key relationships among constructs or concept Reflect an empirical approach to the problem

17 Research Questions or Problem Statements Reflect a plausible and non-trivial scope of investigation given the existing knowledge on the themes Reflect a plausible scope of investigation given resources of the investigator

18 Specify Key Constructs or Concepts Constructs reflect theoretical entities (hypothetical construct) that may not be directly observed (e.g. personality, cognition, self efficacy, self esteem) Constructs within research question are based on empirical and theoretical literature

19 Specify Key Relationships Among Constructs Relationships among constructs are based on findings within empirical studies and theoretical positions Relationships among constructs are based on sound and internally consistent logical arguments

20 Reflect an Empirical Approach to the Problem Constructs specified within the research question can be translated into some observable indicator Indicators are derived from existing empirical literature and include tests, interview questions, observation checklists, or other means of gathering data through the senses.

21 Reflect a Plausible and Non-trivial Scope of Investigation The scope of the question is sufficient to be interesting to relevant individuals The scope makes sense given previous studies The results and interpretations emerging from the study provide new and useful insights into the problem being studied

22 Reflect a Plausible Scope given Resources of the Investigator Potential participants are available and accessible to the researcher Assessment and measurement strategies are within the skills and resources of the researcher

23 Reflect a Plausible Scope given Resources of the Investigator The data analysis procedures are consistent with the researcher’s resources The time available to the researcher is sufficient for conducting the study and writing the report

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