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**The Research Spiral Identify the Research Problem Review the**

Literature Evaluate Data and Write Report Analyze and Interpret Data Specify a Research Purpose Collect Data

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**Identifying a Research Problem**

Research Problem is the focus of a research investigation

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**Differences Among Topic, Problem, Purpose and Questions**

General Topic Distance Learning Research Problem Lack of students in distance classes To study why students do not attend distance education classes at a community college. Purpose Statement Does the use of web site technology in the classroom deter students from enrolling in a distance education class? Research Question Specific

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**Flow of Ideas in a Problem Statement**

What Remedying the Deficiencies will do for Select Audiences Deficiencies in the Evidence Educational Issue Evidence for the Issue Topic Subject Area A Concern A Problem Something that needs a solution Evidence from the literature practical experiences In this body of evidence, what is missing? What do we need to know more about? How will addressing what we need to know help: researchers educators policy-makers individuals like those in the study

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**Specifying a Purpose, Research Questions or Hypothesis**

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Research Questions??? Usually a research problem is initially posed as a question, which serves a focus of the researcher’s investigation

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8 Some Times When Operational Definitions Would Be Helpful Figure 2.2

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**Variables and Hypotheses**

One of the most important concepts in research is the concept of ‘variable.” Many kinds of variables exist, and much ed. Res. involves looking for relationships among variables In this lesson, several kinds of variables are described and discussed. In addition, the concept of “hypothesis” is discussed, since many hypotheses express relationships between variables. Hypotheses are based directly on the research question and can be regarded as extension of it.

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Lesson Objectives 1. Explain what is meant by the term “Variable” and name five variables that might be investigated by educational researchers. 2. Explain how a variable differ from a constant 3. Distinguish between a quantitative and a categorical variable 4. Explain how independent and dependent variables are related

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Objectives (cont’) 5. Explain what a hypothesis is and formulate two hypotheses that might be investigated in education 6. Name two advantages and two disadvantages of stating research questions as hypotheses 7. Distinguish between directional and non-directional hypotheses and give an example of each

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**Relationships Are motivation and learning related? If so how?**

R. Qs often (but not always)suggest a relationship of some sort to be investigated. RLTS Means that two qualities or characteristics are tied together or connected in some way Are motivation and learning related? If so how? A principal’s administrative policies and faculty morale?

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Relationships (cont.) IT is important to understand how the term “relationship” is used in research, since the term has other meanings in everyday life. When researchers use the term RLTS, they are not referring to the nature or quality of an association between people, for example. Look at the next slide

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9 Illustration of Relationship Between Voter Gender and Party Affiliation Figure 2.3

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Relationships (cont.) There is a strong RLTS between the two factors shown in group B. We can express the RLTS in group B by saying that males tend to be Republications while females tend to be democrats. We can also express this RLTS in terms of a prediction. Should another female joint group B. She would be a democrat since 14 of the previous 16 females are Democrats.

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Relationships (cont.) Sometimes researchers are interested only in obtaining descriptive information to find out how people think or feel or to describe how they behave in a particular situation. Other times the intent is to describe a particular program or activity.

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**Definition of a Variable**

(A Characteristic or Attribute) Can be and Measured Varies (Can be assessed on an instrument and recorded on an instrument) (Can assume different values or scores for different individuals)

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**Variables and Constructs**

A Variable is an attribute or characteristic stated in a specific or applied way A Construct is an attribute or characteristic expressed in an abstract, general way. Construct Student Achievement Variable Grade Point Average

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15 How Many Variables Can You Identify? Page 54

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**Variables What is a variable?**

A variable is a concept - a noun that stands for variation within a class of objects, The individual members in the class of objects, however, must differ - or vary - to qualify the class as variable. Suppose a researcher researcher is interested in studying the effects of reinforcement on student achievement.

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**The effects of reinforcement on student achievement.**

The researcher systematically divides a large group of students, all of whom are ninth-graders, into three smaller subgroups to reinforce their students in different ways (one gives verbal praise, the second gives monetary rewards, the third gives extra points) for various tasks the students perform.

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**Notice that it is easier to see what some of these concepts stand for than others. “motivation’**

Researchers must be specific here – they must define ‘motivation” as clearly as possible the concept clearly as possible. They must do this so that it can be measured or manipulated.

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**Many variables ‘out there” in the real world that can be investigated**

We cannot meaningfully measure or manipulate a variable if we cannot define it. As we mentioned above educational research involves looking for a relationship among variables. But what variables? Researchers choose certain variables to investigate because they have a suspicion that these variables are somehow related and that if they can discover the nature of this relationship, it can help us make more sense of the world in which we live.

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constants If all members of a class are identical, we do not have a variable. Such characteristics are called constants, since the individual members of the class are not allowed to vary, but rather are held constant. In any study, some characteristics will be variables, while others will be constants.

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**16 Illustration of Quantitative Compared with Categorical Variables**

Figure 4.1

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17 Categorical Variables Figure 4.2

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**Categorical Variables**

Can ‘teaching method” be considered a variable?

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**Teaching method? Yes, it can**

Suppose a researcher is interested in studying teachers who use different methods in teaching. The researcher locates one teacher who lectures exclusively, another who buttresses her lectures with slides and filmstrips, and a third who uses the case-study method and lectures not all.

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**Vary? Does the teaching method “vary”? It does.**

You may need to practice thinking of differences in methods, or in groups of people (teachers compared to administrators, for ex.) as variables, but mastering this idea is extremely useful in learning about research.

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**Which ones are quantitative variables and which ones categorical variables?**

1.Make of automobile 2. Learning ability 3. ethnicity 4. Cohesiveness 5. Heartbeat rate 6. gender

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**18 Research Involves the Study of Relationships Between Variables**

Page 59 a. Two quantitative variables • Age and amount of interest in school • Reading achievement and mathematics achievement • Classroom humanism and student motivation • Amount of time watching television and aggressiveness of behavior b. One categorical and one quantitative variable • Method used to teach reading and reaching achievement • Counseling approach and level of anxiety • Nationality and liking for school • Student gender and amount of praise given by teachers c. Two categorical variables • Ethnicity and father’s occupation • Gender of teacher and subject taught • Administrative style and college major • Religious affiliation and political party membership

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**quantitative or categorical**

Sometimes researchers have a choice of whether to treat a variable as quantitative or categorical. It is not uncommon, for example, to find studies in which a variable such as “anxiety” is studied by comparing a group of “high-anxiety” to group of ‘low-anxiety” students. This treats anxiety as though it were a categorical variable.

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**quantitative or categorical (cont.)**

While there is nothing really wrong with doing this, there are three reasons why it is preferable in such situations to treat variable as quantitative

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**there are three reasons why it is preferable in such situations to treat variable as quantitative**

1. conceptually, we must consider variables such as anxiety to be a matter of degree in people, not matter of either-or 2. Collapsing the variable into two (or even several) categories eliminates the possibility of using more detailed information about the variable, since differences among individuals with a category are ignored. 3. The dividing line between groups (for example, between the individuals of high, middle, and low anxiety) is almost always arbitrary (that is, lacking in any defensible rationale)

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**Manipulated versus Outcome Variables**

Whenever researchers set up an experiment along the lines of the examples described in which there are two or more experimental conditions, they create a variable.

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**Manipulated versus Outcome Variables(cont.)**

Suppose, for example, that a researcher decides to investigate the effect of different amounts of reinforcement on reading achievement and systematically assigns students to different groups. One group is praised continuously every day during their reading session; the second group is told simply to ‘keep up the good work”; the third group is told nothing at all.

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**Manipulated versus Outcome Variables(cont.)**

The researcher, in effect, manipulates the conditions in the experiment, thereby creating the variable “amount of reinforcement.” Whenever experimental conditions are set up by a researcher, one or more variables are created Such variables are called experimental variables or manipulated variables or treatment variables..

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**Manipulated versus Outcome Variables(cont.)**

most studies in education with one quantitative and one categorical variable are studies comparing different methods or treatments. In such studies, the different methods or treatments represent a categorical variable. Often the other variable, the quantitative one, is referred to as an "outcome variable."

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**Manipulated versus Outcome Variables(cont.)**

(it also possible for an outcome variable to be categorical For example, the variable ‘college completion” could be divided into the categories of “dropouts” and “college graduates.”)

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outcome variables The investigation, after all, is interested in the effect of the differences in method on one or more outcomes (the achievement of students, their motivation, interest, and so on). An outcome is a result of some sort, an observed behavior, product, or condition of an organism that has been stimulated in some way.

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outcome variables Since such out comes vary for different people, in different situations, and under different conditions, they are often called outcome variables.

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**All of the following can be examples of outcome variables**

The amount of uneasiness that applicants for a position express in an interview. How anxious students are before an examination Neatness The “openness” of a classroom How disruptive students are in a history class The ability of people to express themselves in writing Fluency in a foreign language Teacher-student rapport

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**Notice two things about each of the above examples**

Notice two things about each of the above examples. First, each represents a possible result or outcome of some sort that can be produced by something else. In a methods study,. researchers are interested in the effect of different methods on a particular outcome or outcomes They are never completely certain as to what it is, exactly that produces these outcomes, however.

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Outcomes Many outcomes like those above are not very well understood by educators. Researchers have designed studies not only to understand better the nature of these (and other) outcomes but also to gain insight into what causes them.

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Outcomes The second thing to notice about each of the examples above is that the amount or degree of each can vary in different situations or under different conditions. Not all people have the same degree of fluency in Spanish, for example. The amount of rapport that exists between teachers and students varies for different teachers with different students, and vice versa. Neatness, expressiveness, anxiety – such qualities are possessed in varying amounts by different people. That is why they can be considered quantitative variables.

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**check for understanding**

Suppose a researcher plans to investigate the following question: “will students who are taught by a team of three teachers learn more science that students taught by one individual teacher?” What is the outcome variable in this question?

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**Independent Versus dependent variable**

An independent variable is presumed to have an effect on, to influence somehow, another variable. The variable that the independent variable is presumed to affect is called the dependent (or outcome) variable. The nature of the dependent variable "depends on" what the independent variable does to it, how it affects it.

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**Independent Variables**

Not al independent variables are manipulated The relationship between childhood success in mathematics and adults career choice is likely to refer to the former as independent variable and subsequent career choice as dependent variable, even though success is not manipulated.

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More than One It is possible to investigate more than one independent. (and also more than one dependent variable) in a study. For simplicity’s sake I present examples in which only one independent and one dependent variable are involved.

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**IT IS POSSIBLE TO INVESTIGATE MORE THAN ONE INDEPENDENT VARIABLE IN A STUDY**

“Will students who are taught by a team of three teachers learn more science than students taught by one individual teacher? What are the independent variables and dependent variables in this question?

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Answers (The Ind (categorical) variable is the number of teachers, and the dependent variable is the amount of science learning. Notice, again, that the dependent variable is also the outcome variable in this study).

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Can you see why? Notice that there are two conditions (sometimes called levels) in the independent variable –“three teachers” and “one teacher.” Also notice that the dependent variable is not “science learning,” but “amount of science learning.”

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Extraneous Variable A basic problem in research is that there are many possible independent variables that could have an effect on dependent variables. Once researchers have decided which variables to study, they must be concerned about the influence or effect of other variables that exist.. Such variables are usually called

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**extraneous variables somehow to eliminate or minimize their effect**

Extraneous variables are independent variables that have not been controlled. Look again at the research question about team teaching presented above. What might some other variables that could have an effect on the learning of students in a classroom situation?

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19 Examples of Extraneous Variables Figure 4.3

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hold them constant One way to control extraneous variables is to hold them constant. For example, if a research were to include only boys as the subjects of a study, she would be controlling the variable of gender. We would say that the gender of the subjects does not vary; it would be a constant in this study.

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**control the possible effect**

Researchers must continually think about how they might control the possible effect (s) of extraneous variables. We will discuss how to do this in some detail in the Internal Validity chapter, but for now you need to make sure you understand the difference between independent and dependent variables and to be aware of extraneous variables.

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**Try your hand at the following:**

“Will students who are taught history by a teacher of the same gender like the subject more than students taught by a teacher of a different gender? What are the variables?

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**Answer (liking for history, the gender of the teacher.**

Possible extraneous variables include the personality and ability of the teacher (s) involved; the personality and the ability level of the students; the materials used, such as textbooks, etc.; the style of teaching; ethnicity and/or age of the teacher and students; and others. The researcher would want to control as many of these variables as possible).

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Families of Variables Independent Variable: An attribute or characteristic that influences or effects an outcome of the independent variable. Treatment Variable Measured Variable Control Variables Moderating Variables

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**Independent versus Dependent Variables.**

Often relational research is an attempt to demonstrate not just a relationship but a causal relationship. The existence of a relationship between the method of counseling employed and the outcome of counseling suggests that the method of counseling employed is one of the causes of the outcome of counseling.

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**Independent versus Dependent Variables(cont.)**

Effects depend on causes; the values of effect variables depend on the values of causal variables. It is important for you to think that what is a dependent variable in one study may be an independent variable in another.

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**Causes Versus Association**

Not all relational research is about causal relationships. There are non-causal relationships, as well as relationships in which cause is in doubt; the term association or correlation is often used to refer to such relationships.

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**Causes Versus Association (cont.)**

Distinguishing between cause and association can be a serious problem in research. Often our research methods can tell us only that variables are associated; they cannot tell us whether the relationship is causal.

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Proxy Variables The use of proxy variables is a special case of associational research Proxy variables can be useful when true causal variables are not well understood or are difficult to measure.

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**Predictor and Criterion Variables**

Some educational research is explicitly designed to provide information about non-causal associations between variables College entrance examinations and grade-point averages are a good example. When research is done as a basis for making such predictions, research often use special terms for their variables.

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**Predictor and Criterion Variables (cont.)**

What would usually be termed independent variables are instead labeled predictor variables, and what would usually be termed dependent variables are instead criterion variables. When researchers use these terms they are explicitly saying that any relationship between variables is thought to be not causal but simply associational

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Families of Variables Intervening Variables (Mediating Variables): An attribute or characteristic that “stands between” the dependent and independent variables. Dependent Variables: An attribute or characteristic influenced by the independent variable.

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Families of Variables Confounding Variables (Spurious Variables): Attributes or characteristics that the researcher cannot directly measure because their effects cannot be easily separated from the other variables, even though they may influence the relationship between the independent and the independent variable.

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**The Family of Variables in Quantitative Studies**

Probable Cause Effect Independent Variables Treatment Measured Intervening Variables Dependent Variables Control Variables Confounding Variables Moderating Variables

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**Intervening Variables “Stand Between” Independent and Dependent Variables**

Step 1 Dependent Variable Example Convenient office hours for students Student seeks help from faculty Independent Variable Intervening Variable Independent Variable Step 2 Convenient office hours for students Student becomes willing to take risks Example Independent Variable Intervening Variable Step 3 Dependent Variable Convenient office hours for students Student becomes willing to take risks Student seeks help from faculty Example

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**Different Types of Explanations in Quantitative Research**

Extensive Tests by other researchers Broad Abstractions As a formal theory that is expressed by connected hypotheses and variables identified by authors As a conceptual framework often expressed as a visual model by other authors for relationship As a theoretical rationale posed by other authors based on studies for relationship As explanation posed by the author as a hunch for why the independent variable relates to the dependent variable No Test Narrow Application

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**Whether Variables Prove Probable Cause**

Probable causation: The researchers attempt to establish a likely cause/effect relationship between variables rather than prove the relationship. Control is vital: Control means that the researcher attempts to study all factors that might help explain the relationship between an independent and dependent variable.

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**Four Types of Probable Causality**

X = independent variable Y = dependent variable 1. Time: Close in time, not distant X-Y, not X Y 2. Space: Close in distance, not distant X-Y, not X Y 3. Variation: One goes up, the other down X Y, not X Y 3. Multiple Causes: Multiple independent variables influence the dependent variable X Y

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**Quantitative - more closed**

Differences between quantitative and qualitative purpose statements and research questions Quantitative - more closed 1. Probable cause/Effect (“Why did it happen?”) 2. Use of theories (Why did it happen in view of an explanation or theory?” 3. Assessing differences and magnitude “How much happened?” “How many times did it happen? What were the differences among groups in what happened? Qualitative - more open-ended 1. Descriptive (“What happened?”) 2. Interpretive (“What was the meaning to people of what happened?”) 3. Process-oriented (“What happened over time?”)

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**Quantitative Qualitative**

How researchers explain or predict variables versus exploring or understanding a Central Phenomenon Quantitative Explaining or Predicting Variables Qualitative Understanding or exploring a Central Phenomenon X Y Y The independent variable (X) influences a dependent variable (Y) In-depth understanding of Y; external forces shape and are shaped by Y

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**20 A Single Research Question Can Suggest Several Hypotheses**

Figure 4.4

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Hypotheses Relational research questions are usually stated as hypotheses.. A hypothesis is a prediction about the relationship between two or more variables, regarding the outcomes of a study

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a possible hypothesis research question followed by its restatement in the form of a possible hypothesis: Question: Will students who are taught history by a teacher of the same gender like the subject more than students taught by a teacher of a different gender? Hypothesis: Students taught history by a teacher of the same gender will like the subject more than students taught history by a teacher of a different gender/

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a possible hypothesis Question: How do teachers feel about special classes for the educationally handicapped? Hypothesis: Teachers in XYZ School District believe that students attending special classes for the educationally handicapped are thereby stigmatized. OR

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A possible hypothesis Hypothesis: Teachers in XYZ School District believe that special classes for the educationally handicapped will help such students improve their academic skills Many different hypotheses can come from a single question. As an illustration of this see this slide

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**Hypotheses people with high GRE scores will have higher incomes.**

There will be no difference in the dropout rates of culturally diverse and Angle children. Researchers restate their relational research questions as hypotheses because hypotheses can be subjected to empirical test. We can change the question to a prediction and then find out whether or not the prediction is empirically confirmed

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**Theories as Bridges Between Independent and Dependent Variables**

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**Directional vs. Nondirectional Hypotheses**

A directional hypothesis is one in which the specific direction (such as higher, lower, more or less) that a research expects to emerge in a relationship is indicated. The particular direction expected is based on what the researcher has found in literature, from personal experience, or from the experience of others.

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Directional? Sometimes it is difficult to make specific predictions. If a researcher suspects that a relationship exists, but has no basis for predicting the direction of the relationship, she cannot make a directional hypothesis.

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21 Directional vs. Nondirectional Hypotheses Figure 4.5

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