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Who’s afraid of research questions?. The neglect of research questions in social science. Researchers and research questions. Researchers often find it difficult to tell you their research questions

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Who s afraid of research questions

Who’s afraid of research questions?

The neglect of research questions in social science


Researchers and research questions
Researchers and research questions

  • Researchers often find it difficult to tell you their research questions

  • The sometimes don’t realise the importance of research questions in terms of the rest of the research process

  • Many don’t realise how helpful it is to spend time formulating research questions


Why bother with research questions
Why bother with research questions?

  • Research should be driven by curiosity

  • Research should be driven by questions not method

  • Research questions guide the construction of a research design

  • We need to know the research questions in order to evaluate a piece of research


Research questions
Research questions…

  • Communicate to an audience what the researcher wanted to investigate.

  • Help the researcher clarify what their research is about

  • Direct the researcher towards an appropriate research design


Unresearchable questions
Unresearchable questions

Metaphysical

Normative

Should corporal punishment be re-introduced in secondary schools in the United Kingdom?

Is it right that those involved in the August 2011 riots received harsher sentences than offenders convicted of similar crimes at the same time in 2010?

Do numbers exist independently of human thought?

Does the world exist or is it just a figment of my imagination?

‘Why’ questions?


Examples of problematic concepts
Examples of problematic concepts

What problems might we face when defining and operationalising the following concepts?

  • Social class

  • Non-economic ‘capitals’

  • Gender


How do young people make educational and career choices at the end of compulsory schooling
How do young people make educational and career choices at the end of compulsory schooling?

Contributory sub-questions

Ancillary sub-questions

How similar are the factors considered at the end of compulsory schooling to those factors considered at earlier points of transition?

Is the type of decision-making engaged in by students related to their academic attainment?

  • What factors do young people consider when making their choice?

  • What sources of information do they use to help their decision-making?

  • Which individuals are influential in shaping their choices?


Descriptive and explanatory questions
Descriptive and Explanatory Questions the end of compulsory schooling?


Why questions
‘Why’ questions the end of compulsory schooling?

Fischer (1970) argues that ‘why’ questions can seek:

  • Causes

  • Motives

  • Reasons

  • Descriptions

  • Processes

  • Purposes

  • Justifications


Problem question 1
Problem Question #1 the end of compulsory schooling?

What were the aims of the comprehensivisation of secondary education and to what extent were these aims achieved?


Solution 1
Solution #1 the end of compulsory schooling?

  • What were the aims of comprehensivisation?

  • To what extent were these aims achieved?


Problem question 2
Problem Question #2 the end of compulsory schooling?

Comprehensive education: force for equality or lowest common denominator?


Solution 2
Solution #2 the end of compulsory schooling?

  • To what extent has the comprehensivisation of secondary education in the UK led to increased equality?

  • Has the introduction of comprehensivisation led to lower educational attainment among pupils in the UK?


Problem question 3
Problem Question #3 the end of compulsory schooling?

Why are the working classes over-represented in certain occupations?


Solution 3
Solution #3 the end of compulsory schooling?

  • Is there a lack of intra-generational mobility among working class adults in the UK?

  • If so, what factors contribute to this lack of mobility?


Problem questions 4
Problem Questions #4 the end of compulsory schooling?

  • Do the lecturing staff in your institution feel they are overworked?

  • Do the lecturing staff in your institution feel they are underpaid?


Solution 4
Solution #4 the end of compulsory schooling?

  • Do your feel that you are overworked?

  • Do your feel that you are underpaid?


Good research questions
‘Good’ research questions? the end of compulsory schooling?

  • Among the adult population of the UK, what factors are associated with:

    • Current or recent participation in learning;

    • The intention to participate in learning in the near future.

  • What is the relative importance of these factors?

  • Has the importance of these factors changed between 2002 and 2010?

  • If so, how has their importance changed?


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