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The Research Spiral Identify the Research Problem Review the

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1 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

2 Identifying a Research Problem
Research Problem is the focus of a research investigation

3 Key Concepts Defining the Research Problem
Distinguishing the problem from the research topic, purpose and research questions Determining the research approach Introducing the problem The flow of ideas in a problem statement

4 Research Problem Defined
A research problem is an educational issue or concern that an investigator presents and justifies in a research study.

5 Distinguishing the Research Problem From Other Research Steps
A research topic is the broad subject matter being addressed in a study. A research problem is an educational issue or problem in the study A purpose is the major intent or objective of the study. Research questions are questions the researcher would like answered or addressed in the study.

6 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

7 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

8 Specifying a Purpose, Research Questions or Hypothesis

9 Distinguishing among various forms of direction in research
Purpose Statement Research Questions Hypothesis Research Objectives Overall Direction Intent Raise questions to be answered Make predictions about expectations State Goals Form One or more sentences One or More Objectives One or more questions One or more questions Use Quantitative and Qualitative Research Quantitative and Qualitative Research Quantitative Research Typically Quantitative Research End of the introduction, after the literature review, or in a separate section of the study End of Introduction Placement

10 Research Questions By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:
1. Give some examples of potential research problems in education 2. Formulate a research a research question 3. Distinguish between researchable and non-researchable questions 4. Describe characteristics that good research questions possess

11 Research Questions Objectives (cont.)
5. Describe three ways to clarify unclear research questions 6. Give an example of an operational definition and explain how such definitions differ from other kinds of definitions 7. Explain what is meant, in research, by the term “relationship” and give an example of a research question that involves a relationship

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

13 Examples of Possible Research Questions
1. Does behavior modification reduce aggression in autistic children (single subject experimental research) 2. Are the descriptions of people in social studies textbooks biased (content analysis research). 3. What goes on in an elementary school classroom during an average week? (ethnographic research)

14 Examples of Possible Research Questions (cont.)
4. Do teachers behave differently toward students of different genders? (causal comparative research). 5. How can we predict which students might have trouble learning certain kinds of subject matter? (correlational research) 6. How do parents feel about the school counseling program? (survey research) 7. How can a principal improve faculty morale? (interview research)

15 Researchable Questions
What all these questions have in common is that we can collect data of some sort to answer them (at leas in part). That’s what makes them researchable. For example, a researcher can observe and interview in order to describe the functioning of an elementary school classroom. To repeat, then, what makes these questions researchable is that some sort if information can be collected to answer them.

16 Non-researchable Questions
There are other kinds of questions, however, that cannot be answered by collecting analyzing data. Here are two examples: 1. Should philosophy be included in the high school curriculum? 2. What is the meaning of life?

17 Non-Researchable? Why can’t these questions be research?
What about them prevents us from collecting information to answer them? The first question is a question of value - It does not have any empirical (or observable) referents. The second question: Answers to this sort of question lie beyond the accumulation of information.

18 Which ones (if any) do you think are researchable?
1. Is God good? 2. Are children happier when taught by a teacher of the same gender? 3. Does high school achievement influence the academic achievement of university students? 4. What is the best way to teach grammar? 5. What would schools be like today if World War II had not occurred?

19 Researchable? . Q. 4. Think about this for a moment. Is there any way we can determine the best way to do something? To be able to determine this, we must examine every possible alternative, and a moment’s reflection brings us to realize that this can never be accomplished. How would be ever be sure that all possible alternatives have been examined?

20 Researchable? Q. 5 requires the creation of impossible conditions. We can, of course investigate what people think schools would be like.

21 Researchable vs. Non-researchable Questions
Figure 2.1 6

22 5 Characteristics of Good Research Questions
Page 30 1. The question is feasible (i.e., it can be investigated without an undue amount of time, energy, or money). 2. The question is clear (i.e., most people would agree as to what the key words in the question mean). 3. The question is significant (i.e., it is worth investigating because it will contribute important knowledge about the human condition). 4. The question is ethical (i.e., it will not involve physical or psychological harm or damage to human beings, or to the natural or social environment of which they are a part). We will discuss the subject of ethics in detail in Chapter Three. 5

23 Research Questions should be clear
R Q. is the focus of a research investigation, it is particularly important that the Q. be clear What exactly is being investigated?

24 Examples of Research Questions
Example 1: “Is a humanistic oriented classroom effective? May seem quite clear, many people may not be sure exactly what it means.

25 are not clear enough If we ask, “What is a humanistic ally oriented classroom?” We begin to discover that it is not as easy as we might have thought to describe its essential characteristics. Another term in this question is also ambiguous. What does the term “effective” mean?

26 Example 2: “How do teachers feel about special classes for the educationally handicapped? The first term that needs clarification is “teachers.” The phrase “feel about” is also ambiguous.

27 The terms “special classes” and ‘educationally handicapped” also need to be clarified An example of a legal definition of an educationally handicapped student is: . A minor, by reason of marked learning or behavioral disorders, is unable to adapt to a normal classroom situation.

28 The Terms (cont.) The disorder must be associated with a neurological handicap or an emotional disturbance and must not be due to mental retardation, cultural deprivation, or a foreign language problems. Ambiguous words, such as “marked leaning disorders,” which lend themselves to a wide variety of interpretations.

29 The Terms (cont.) As we begin to think about these (or other) questions, it appears that terms which seemed at first glance to be words or phrases that every one would easily understand are really quite complex and far more difficult to define than we might originally have thought.

30 What do such terms mean? Consider such term as “core curriculum,” “activity learning,” What do such terms mean? If you were to ask a sample of five or six teachers or administrators that you know, probably would get several different definitions. Such ambiguity represents a problem to investigators of a research question.

31 be specific & define precisely
Researchers have no choice but to be specific about the terms used in a research question, to define precisely what is to be studied. In making this effort, researchers gain a clear picture of how to proceed with an investigation, and, in fact, sometimes decide to change the very nature of the research.

32 Defining terms: Three ways to clarify important terms in a research question
How, then, might the clarity of a research question be improved? 1. A constitutive definition – that is, to use what is often referred to as the dictionary approach. Researchers simply use other words to say more clearly what is meant.

33 defined as: , the term “humanistic classroom” might be defined as:
A classroom in which(1) the needs and interests of students have the highest priority; (2) students work on their own for a considerable amount of time in each class period; and (3) the teacher acts as a guide and a resource person rather than an informant.

34 the dictionary approach
Notice, however, that this definition is still somewhat unclear, the term “humanistic” are themselves ambiguous. What does it mean to say that “the needs and interests of students have the highest priority” or that “ students work on their own” And so on.

35 the dictionary approach (cont’)
Further clarification is needed. As we have seen this approach has its own limitations

36 2. A second possibility is to clarify by example
Researchers might think of a few humanistic classrooms with which they are familiar and then try to describe as fully as possible what happens in these classrooms. We’d suggest that people observe such classrooms to see for themselves how they differ from other classrooms.

37 to clarify by example This approach also has its problems, however, since our descriptions may still not be clear to others as they would like.

38 A third method of clarification is to define important terms operationally
Operationally definitions require that researchers specify the actions or operations necessary to measure or identify the term. Defining terms operationally is a helpful way to clarify their meaning. Operational definitions are useful tools and should be mastered by all students of research.

39 Operationally definitions
Remember that the operations or activities necessary to measure to identify the term must be specified. Which of the following possible definitions of the term “motivated to learn mathematics” do you think are operational?

40 7 Which of the Following Definitions Are Operational?
Page 34 1. As shown by enthusiasm in class 2. As judged by the student’s math teacher using a rating scale she developed 3. As measured by the “Math Interest” questionnaire 4. As shown by attention to math tasks in class 5. As reflected by achievement in mathematics 6. As indicated by records showing enrollment in mathematics electives 7. As shown by effort expended in class 8. As demonstrated by number of optional assignments completed 9. As demonstrated by reading math books outside class 10. As observed by teacher aides using the “Mathematics Interest” observation record 7

41 specifying operational definitions
In addition to their value in helping reader understand how researchers actually obtain the information they need, specifying operational definitions is often helpful in clarifying terms.

42 operational definitions
Thinking about how to measure “job satisfaction,” for example, is likely to force a researcher to clarify, in her own mind, what she means by the term (For everyday examples of times when operational definitions are needed)

43 8 Some Times When Operational Definitions Would Be Helpful Figure 2.2

44 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?

45 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

46 9 Illustration of Relationship Between Voter Gender and Party Affiliation Figure 2.3

47 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.

48 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.

49 Relational and Non-relational questions
There are two basic kinds of quantitative research questions: Relational and non-relational. Non-relational questions simply ask for a report on the state of some variable. Example of non-relational questions follow:

50 Non-relational questions (cont)
 What methods of counseling are employed at the University if New Mexico Student Health Center?  What is the average Graduate Record examination (GRE) score of 1997 college graduates?  What percentage of students drops out before high-school graduation?

51 Non-relational questions (cont)
Do you see that each of these questions asks what the value of the variable counseling method are at a particular center. The second question asks about the average value of the variable GRE score for certain group of students.

52 Non-relational questions (cont)
The third asks what proportion of students has the value dropout, as opposed to non-dropout, of the variable dropout status.

53 Relational questions Relational questions ask about the relationship between two (or more) variables. Examples of relational questions follow:

54 Relational questions (cont)
 Is directive counseling more successful than nondirective?  Do people have higher GRE scores earn more money?  Does a higher percentage of culturally diverse that of Anglo children drop out of high school? Do you see that each of these questions asks about the relationship between two variables?

55 Relational questions (cont)
Relational research has the potential for yielding understanding of cause and effect. Understanding cause and effect is one of the highest goals of science.

56 Relational questions (cont)
When you have identified the research question in a quantitative research report, ask yourself whether the question involves at least two variables and whether there is the suggestion of a relationship, often causal between these two variables. If so, the research is relational.

57 Relational and Non-relational questions
You must, however, exercise some caution in applying this rule. It is possible for non-relational research to involve two or more variables – for example, what are the heights and weights of certain people? Unless it is clear that the researcher will be trying to relate the two variables, these are simply tow separate non- relational questions in one study.

58 20 A Single Research Question Can Suggest Several Hypotheses
Figure 4.4

59 21 Directional vs. Nondirectional Hypotheses Figure 4.5

60 Hypotheses Relational research questions are usually stated as hypotheses.. A hypothesis is a prediction about the relationship between two or more variables

61 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

62 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

63 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)

64 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

65 15 How Many Variables Can You Identify? Page 54

66 Operational definitions
Whether the research process is a valid one for answering the questions the research posed. If the process is valid, then the answer should be valid

67 Measurement validity Two basic kinds of validity – internal and external. Internal validity refers to whether the research process yields a result that is valid in the research context – that is, whether the answer to the research question is valid for the people on whom the research was done, at the time the research was done, in the place the research was done.

68 External validity External validity refers to whether the answer to the research question is valid in a larger context – for other people , at other times, in other places.

69 Internal validity Internal validity has two components: measurement validity and validity of causal argument

70 Measuring Variable Values
When a quantitative researcher has decided on the variables she wishes to study, a method must be found for measuring the variables – that is, for determining the value of each variable for each of the subjects that will be studied.

71 Measuring Variable Values (cont.)
For example, if gender is one of the variables of interest, researcher must decide on a method for determining whether each subject is male or female. Gender may also be measured by checking records; school records

72 Measuring Variable Values (cont.)
Similarly, intelligence may be measured in many ways. There are a number of standardized tests that are considered to be the tests of intelligence; any of these might be used. Intelligence could also be measured by asking students’ teachers; teachers might, for example, be asked to assign each students in their classes a value of above average, average, or below average in intelligence.

73 Operational Definitions
This process of deciding how to measure a variable must be ultimately result in what is called operational definition. An operational definition of a variable specifies the operations that will be performed to measure the variable.

74 Operational Definitions (cont.)
Operational definitions are thus very precise; they give such complete information about how a variable is measured that other researchers can use them to replicate the method of measurement for a given variable

75 Categorical and Continuous Scores
A categorical score is a value of a variable assigned by the researcher into a small number of categories. (e.g. Gender) A continuous variable is the value of a variable assigned by the researcher to a point along a continuum of scores, from low to high. (e.g. Age)

76 16 Illustration of Quantitative Compared with Categorical Variables
Figure 4.1

77 17 Categorical Variables Figure 4.2

78 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

79 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.

80 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.

81 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.

82 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.

83 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.

84 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.

85 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

86 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.

87 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.

88 The Family of Variables in Quantitative Studies
Probable Cause Effect Independent Variables Treatment Measured Intervening Variables Dependent Variables Control Variables Confounding Variables Moderating Variables

89 19 Examples of Extraneous Variables Figure 4.3

90 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

91 Theories as Bridges Between Independent and Dependent Variables

92 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

93 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.

94 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

95 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?”)

96 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

97 Qualitative Research Considerations
More open-ended The direction of the study is focused on how to best learn from the participants The focus of the research is around a Central Phenomenon which is an issue or a process the researcher would like to study. Qualitative research is built on an emerging design

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