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Preparing and Evaluating a Research Plan

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1 Preparing and Evaluating a Research Plan
Educational Research Chapter 3 Preparing and Evaluating a Research Plan Gay, Mills, and Airasian

2 Topics Discussed in this Chapter
Characteristics of a research plan General considerations in developing a research plan Components of a quantitative research plan Components of a qualitative research plan Evaluation of a research plan

3 Characteristics of a Research Plan
A research plan is a detailed description of the procedures that will be used to investigate your topic or problem. Obj. A.1

4 Characteristics of a Research Plan
General components of a research plan A justification for the hypotheses or exploration of the research problem A detailed presentation of the steps to be followed in conducting the study Obj. A.1

5 Characteristics of a Research Plan
Purposes of a written research plan Forces the researcher to think through every aspect of the study Facilitates the evaluation of the proposed study Provides detailed procedures to guide the conduct of the study Obj. A.2

6 Characteristics of a Research Plan
Benefits of a written research plan A well thought out research plan… saves time, provides structure to the study, reduces the probability of costly mistakes, and generally results in a higher quality research study. Obj. A.3

7 General Considerations
Three general issues to consider when developing a research plan Ethics of research Legal restrictions Cooperation from participants

8 General Considerations
Ethics of research Five ethical principles Beneficence and non-malfeasance Fidelity and responsibility Integrity Justice Respect for people’s rights and dignity Obj. 1.1

9 General Considerations
Legal restrictions National Research Act of 1974 Protects participants Protection from harm – not exposing subjects to risks Informed consent – subjects participate of their own free will with an understanding of the nature of the study and possible risks Stipulates that proposed research activities involving human subjects must be reviewed and approved by an authorized group Internal Review Boards and Committees on Human Subjects Obj. 1.2 & 2.1

10 General Considerations
Legal restrictions Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 Protects students’ privacy Access to students’ records Need for written permission to use data identifying students Known as the Buckley Amendment Obj. 2.1

11 General Considerations
Two additional issues related to ethical and legal responsibilities Deception Cooperation of participants

12 General Considerations
Deception Situations in which complete information related to the study is not given to participants Such information would influence or change participants’ responses Studies can be negatively affected by informing participants of certain details Use of deceptive practices must be undertaken very, very carefully Obj. 1.2

13 General Considerations
Cooperation of participants Gaining entry to the research site Approval needed at several levels Site Administrators Teachers Students Approval is not cooperation Obj. 1.6

14 General Considerations
Cooperation from participants (continued) Strategies to enhance cooperation Clearly explain the benefits of the study Afford stakeholders the opportunity to review drafts of the report for their approval Brief stakeholders on the findings Provide professional development sessions for stakeholders Obj. 1.7

15 Quantitative Research Plans
Four major components Introduction Method Data analysis Timeline and budget Obj. 3.1

16 Quantitative Research Plans
Introduction Three sections Statement of the topic Review of the literature Statement of the hypotheses The topic is identified with a discussion of the background and rationale Stated at the beginning of the plan Obj. 3.2

17 Quantitative Research Plans
Introduction (continued) Review of the literature Provides an overview of the topic and positions the study in the context of what is known, and, more importantly, what is not known about the topic Completed at the beginning of the study and placed in the beginning of the plan Obj. 3.2

18 Quantitative Research Plans
Introduction (continued) Statement of the hypotheses A formal statement specifying the hypothesis, support for expected relationships between variables, and operational definitions of all variables Hypotheses in quantitative studies are usually deductively reasoned Obj. 3.2

19 Quantitative Research Plans
Method Five major sections Participants Instruments Design Procedures Data analyses Identifies the characteristics of the population and sample as well as the sampling technique used Quantitative studies typically use large samples and probability sampling techniques Obj. 3.3

20 Quantitative Research Plans
Method (continued) Instruments Descriptions of the specific measures of each variable, the technical characteristics of the instruments, and the administration and scoring techniques Quantitative studies typically use non-interactive instruments Tests Questionnaires Surveys Obj. 3.3

21 Quantitative Research Plans
Method (continued) Design Descriptions of the basic structure of the study and the specific research design chosen Quantitative studies typically use highly structured, static designs Obj. 3.3

22 Quantitative Research Plans
Method (continued) Procedures Detailed descriptions of all the steps that will be followed in conducting the study, assumptions, and limitations Gaining entry to the site How subjects will be selected The ways data will be collected and analyzed Assumptions – any important “fact” presumed to be true but not verified Limitations – some aspect of the study that could have a negative effect upon the results Size of the sample Length of the study Obj. 3.3

23 Quantitative Research Plans
Method (continued) Data analysis Descriptions of the techniques used to analyze the data Descriptive statistics – statistics that summarize data in terms of central tendency (e.g., means), variation (e.g., standard deviations), relative position (e.g., standard scores), or relationships (e.g., correlations) Inferential statistics – procedures used to infer the likelihood of the results happening in the population rather than just the sample Obj. 3.3 & 3.4

24 Quantitative Research Plans
Method (continued) Data analysis (continued) The hypotheses usually determine the specific research design which in turn influences the specific analyses used Quantitative studies usually focus on the appropriate statistical procedures to analyze numerical data Obj. 3.3 & 3.4

25 Quantitative Research Plans
Timeline and budget Timeline Description of the major activities and corresponding anticipated completion dates Help assess the feasibility of conducting the study The resulting structure helps avoid procrastination A general strategy is to allow more time than you initially think you will need!!! Obj. 3.5 & 3.6

26 Quantitative Research Plans
Timeline and budget (continued) Budget Descriptions of anticipated costs that are likely to be incurred Salaries Copying Telephone Travel Optional in many plans Obj. 3.5 & 3.6

27 Qualitative Research Plans
Qualitative studies are characterized by open-ended, emergent designs Research plans must be responsive to the context and setting as well as the flexibility of the design The influence of prior fieldwork The authors recommend pre-proposal fieldwork to help understand the socio-cultural context of the setting Alternatives include drawing on one’s own experiences or the literature Obj. 4.1 & 4.2

28 Qualitative Research Plans
Additional ethical issues in qualitative research Unique emerging nature of qualitative designs increases the likelihood of unanticipated and un-reviewed ethical issues Unique personal involvement with participants raises issues Objective collection and interpretation of data Possibility of observing potentially illegal or unprofessional behavior Aligning professional and personal ethical perspectives Obj. 1.5

29 Qualitative Research Plans
Six general components Title of the study Introduction to the study Research procedures Potential contributions of the study Limitations Appendices Obj. 4.3

30 Qualitative Research Plans
Title Conveys key concepts of the study Provides a framework for continued reflection Serves as a conceptual point of reference Obj. 4.4

31 Qualitative Research Plans
Introduction Four sections Purpose statement Framing the study Initial research question Related literature A clearly written, concise statement that sets the stage for the rest of the plan Obj. 4.5

32 Qualitative Research Plans
Introduction (continued) Framing the study An attempt to demonstrate the relevance of the study using a frame of reference to which the reader can relate Describes the contribution of the study to existing theory, educational policy, or the solution of a practical problem Obj. 4.5

33 Qualitative Research Plans
Introduction (continued) Initial research question Specifying research questions is difficult at this stage given the ongoing, emergent nature of qualitative research Linked closely to the theory, policy, or practical problem used to frame the study Obj. 4.5

34 Qualitative Research Plans
Introduction (continued) Review of the literature Links the study to any underlying assumptions and theories related to the initial research question Accomplishes several things Assesses the researcher’s preparedness to conduct the study Identifies potential gaps in the literature Suggests promising educational practices Refines the initial research question Embeds the research questions in “guiding hypotheses” Obj. 4.5

35 Qualitative Research Plans
Procedures Eight sections Description of the overall approach and rationale for the study Site and sample selection Researcher’s role Data collection methods Data management methods Data analysis strategies Trustworthiness features Ethical considerations Obj. 4.6

36 Qualitative Research Plans
Procedures (continued) Overall approach and rationale Identifies the qualitative approach (e.g., ethnography, historical study, grounded theory, etc.) Provides the rationale for why the particular approach is appropriate Provides a link to the appropriate literature on research methods Obj. 4.6

37 Qualitative Research Plans
Procedures (continued) Site and sample Describes the rationale for choosing the particular sample Describes the process for gaining entry to the site Describes the site Discusses the likelihood of building trusting relationships with the participants Obj. 4.6

38 Qualitative Research Plans
Procedures (continued) Researcher’s role Describes any negotiations needed to gain entry to the site Discusses participants’ expectations in terms of reciprocity Anticipates any ethical dilemmas Data collection methods Describes the fieldwork techniques and tools for collecting data Identifies multiple data sources Obj. 4.6

39 Qualitative Research Plans
Procedures (continued) Data management methods Provides insights into ways by which the large quantity of data will be manipulated Data sources Volume of data Storage Information such as times, dates, locations, etc. Obj. 4.6

40 Qualitative Research Plans
Procedures (continued) Data analysis strategies Interpretive nature of the analyses of data from fieldwork, observations, interviews, etc. Describes procedures for collating data Discusses the manner by which the data will be categorized in terms of emergent themes Provides a rationale for the conclusion and interpretations Obj. 4.6

41 Qualitative Research Plans
Procedures (continued) Trustworthiness features The researcher’s efforts to address traditional validity and reliability issues The use of triangulation – multiple data sources and collection methods Ethical considerations Demonstrates sensitivity to the ethical issues related to informed consent Describes the plan to obtain informed consent States the researcher’s personal/professional ethical perspectives Obj. 4.6

42 Qualitative Research Plans
Potential contribution of the research Describes how the study will contribute to an understanding of the phenomenon being studied Provides a link from the possible implications of the study to the broader framework under which the study was begun Limitations Discusses any limitations related to the researchers’ ability to deal with situations over which they have no control

43 Qualitative Research Plans
Appendices Provide information helpful in assessing the value and feasibility of the study Timeline Proposed table of contents Sample consent form Internal Review Board (IRB) approval Sample of data collection protocols Obj. 4.7

44 Evaluation of a Research Plan
Informal assessment Critiques by the researcher, advisors, peers and colleagues, etc. Critiques by experienced researchers Formal assessment Field tests Pilot studies Modifications based on the results of both informal and formal evaluations Obj. 5.1 & 5.2

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