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Introduction to Educational Research. EDU 710 Steve Gibbs Touro University. Forget the word Proof. Replace it with evidence. Will the sun come up tomorrow? Will 1+1=2 the next time I add it up?. Basic vs Applied Research.

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Introduction to educational research

Introduction to Educational Research

EDU 710

Steve Gibbs

Touro University

Introduction to educational research

  • Forget the word Proof. Replace it with evidence.

  • Will the sun come up tomorrow?

  • Will 1+1=2 the next time I add it up?

Basic vs applied research

Basic vs Applied Research

  • Basic research is about fundamental processes, like salivating, thinking of fruit. It’s usually experimental and done in controlled lab

  • Applied research is about practical questions in the real world, driven by current problems

  • Action research focuses on solving practitioner’s local problems. It cyclical because problems are rarely solved through one research study.

  • Evaluation research determines the worth, merit, or quality of an evaluation object. i.e. Is the new teaching method working?

Action research solving local problems

Action Research – solving local problems

  • Brainstorm…

    • What local problems could be researched?

    • What problems could your projects solve?

Introduction to educational research

My 2 Cents

  • Does teaching to the test improve learning?

  • Is all learning observable? Should all learning be observable?

  • Are PLCs good or evil? Are they always practical?

  • Does administrative performance have a statistically significant impact on classroom learning?

  • Do students do better on silent activities when they listen to music on their iPods?

  • Does familiarity with CA Content Standards make one a better teacher?

Hypothesis vs theory

Hypothesis vs Theory

  • A hypothesis attempts to answer questions by putting forth a plausible explanation that has yet to be rigorously tested.

  • A theory, on the other hand, has already undergone extensive testing by various scientists and is generally accepted as being an accurate explanation of an observation. This doesn’t mean the theory is correct; only that current testing has not yet been able to disprove it, and the evidence as it is understood, appears to support it.

Hypothesis vs theory1

Hypothesis vs Theory

  • A theory will often start out as a hypothesis -- an educated guess to explain observable phenomenon. The scientist will attempt to poke holes in his or her hypothesis.

  • If it survives the applied methodologies of science, it begins to take on the significance of a theory to the scientist.

  • The next step is to present the findings to the scientific community for further, independent testing. The more a hypothesis is tested and holds up, the better accepted it becomes as a theory

Null hypothesis

Null Hypothesis

  • A hypothesis set to be nullified by your research

  • When your expected hypothesis is not proven by statistically significant correlation either positive or negative, then the Null hypothesis IS proven.

  • Hypothesis: Students with cars have lower grades

  • Null hypothesis: Owning a car has no negligible effect on students’ grades

Grounded theory

Grounded Theory

  • When one does the research and experimenting without first reading any literature on the subject, without studying previous findings, and without having a clear hypothesis to prove.

  • Grounded theory research is done to give researchers uncontaminated perspectives of the data collected.

Hypothesis theory

Hypothesis & Theory

  • Brainstorm…

  • What educational theories can be thrown into question?

  • Why hypotheses do you hold to be true but have never formally tested?

Introduction to educational research

My 2 Cents

  • Teaching grammar is a waste of time

  • Technology in the elementary classroom can be detrimental to growth and learning

  • Never assign writing as punishment | 2 | 3

  • Do not attach grades to behavior

Introduction to educational research

Criterion of falsifiability= the property of a statement or theory that is capable of being refuted by experience (Karl Popper ‘02-’94)

Rule of parsimony the simplest answer is often the best

Rule of parsimony = the simplest answer is often the best

Where we ended last session

Introduction to educational research


For Thur Sept 25

Introduction to educational research

Expectation theory – the Pygmalion effect - Limited expectations bring limited results, high expectations lead to exceptional results.Any classroom examples?

Formative vs summative evaluation

Formative vs. summative Evaluation

  • Formative = focused on improving the evaluation object

    • EX: A new reading program designed to help struggling readers is being trialed. Formative evaluations are mid-stream observations and actions designed to tweak, modify, augment the program to make it better

  • Summative = focused on overall effectiveness of evaluation object

    • EX: End of year evaluation of the reading program

4 key questions to pose in evaluation research

4 Key Questions to Pose in Evaluation Research:

  • 1. Did the evaluation object have its intended impact? Did it work?

  • 2. How does the evaluation object operate?

  • 3. Is the evaluation object cost effective? Is there a cheaper alternative?

  • 4. How can the evaluation object be improved?

Sources of knowledge

Sources of Knowledge

  • Experience = empiricism – experiments, tests, surveys, questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, observations, secondary data

  • Expert Opinion = interviews, reading research articles and books (vested interest?)

  • Reasoning = Rationalism Descartes – researchers’ evaluative skills – common sense, logic, inductive-deductive reasoning

Reasoning deductive and inductive

Reasoning – deductive and inductive

  • Deductive = general to specific

  • Inductive = specific to general – it’s probabilistic

    • Problem of Induction: the past doesn’t always repeat

      • Back to the issue of proof. Will the sun come up?

Deductive – Pygmalion has merit, let me try it on Johnny.

Inductive – Johnny gave me a problem and I gave him detention and he behaved. I will now give all misbehaving students detention.

Introduction to educational research

  • Share examples of inductive reasoning

  • Share examples of deductive reasoning

Scientific method

Scientific Method

  • Empirical observations

  • Generation and testing hypotheses

    • “Students who own cars have lower grades.”

    • “Students who admit to playing +5 hours a week computer games have lower/higher grades.”

    • How could we account for contaminating variables?

  • Building and testing theories

  • Attempting to predict and influence the world positively

Introduction to educational research

The “Don’t go

There” section

Topics that can t be adequately researched

Topics that can’t be adequately researched

  • Value, morality – right and wrong, religion

  • Issues of school prayer

  • Abortion

  • Capital punishment

  • Abstract art

    • NOTE: Research can be performed to gather data, such as incidence of abortions based on cultural settings, frequency of school prayer, tendencies for capital punishment to deter crime; research CANNOT prove any of these issues to be right or wrong.

Pg 64

Introduction to educational research

  • Other subjects that cannot be adequately researched?

Introduction to educational research





Textbook Glossary online PDF

Quantitative and qualitative research

Quantitative and Qualitative Research





natural settings


wide-angle lens


behavior is fluid

Research is the data collector

Reality is socially constructed

Narrative report

  • numbers

  • mathematical

  • laboratory

  • statistical

  • narrow-angle lens

  • deductive

  • cause & effect - determinism

  • tool perform data collection

  • Reality is objective

  • Statistical report

Quantitative methods

Quantitative Methods

  • Follows Scientific Theory

  • The generation of models, theories and hypotheses

  • The development of instruments and methods for measurement

  • Experimental control and manipulation of variables

  • Collection of empirical data

  • Modeling and analysis of data

  • Evaluation of results

Qualitative methods

Qualitative Methods

  • Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern human behavior.

  • Qualitative research investigates the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, and when.

  • Uses smaller but focused samples rather than large random samples

  • Categorizes data into narrative patterns for reporting:

    • (1) participation in the setting,

    • (2) direct observation,

    • (3) in depth interviews, and

    • (4) analysis of documents and materials

Quantitative elements

Quantitative Elements

  • Variables – a condition or characteristic that can take on different values

    • Age, Intelligence, Gender, Temperature

  • Constants – a single value or category of a variable

    • Male, Female, 12-years-old, 49-years, old, IQ 130, 98.6 degrees

Quantitative vs categorical variables

Quantitative vs Categorical Variables

  • Quantitative Variable – varies in degree or amount, usually involving numbers

  • Categorical Variable – varies in kind or type, usually involves groups



Quantitative Variables

Categorical Variables




College major

Political affiliation

Native language

Teaching methods

Personality types

Problem solving strategies

  • Height

  • Weight

  • Temperature

  • Annual Income

  • Aptitude Tests

  • School size

  • Class size

  • GPA

  • Anxiety level

Variables vs constants

Variables vs. Constants

  • Independent Variable – that which influences the dependent variable

  • Dependent Variable – that which is influenced by Independent Variable – usually the focus of the research

    • Independent = owning car; Dependent = grades

    • Independent = praise; Dependent = performance

    • Independent = standardized test; Dependent = real learning

    • Independent = educational technology; Dependent = real learning

Introduction to educational research

  • Share other examples of independent and dependent variables

Extraneous variable

Extraneous Variable

  • Extraneous Variable = research pollution = may compete with independent variable’s influence on dependent variable. Can result in alternative explanations or rival hypotheses. An issue in experimental research.

Extraneous variables

Extraneous Variables

  • Independent = owning car; Dependent = grades

    • Extraneous = Parenting, intelligence, attitude, car, laws

  • Independent = praise; Dependent = performance

    • Extraneous = false or easy praise; amount of praise; attitude

Extraneous variables1

Extraneous Variables

  • Independent = standardized test; Dependent = real learning

    • Extraneous = quality of test; faculty – student attitudes, subject matter

  • Independent = educational technology; Dependent = real learning

    • Extraneous = appropriate use; teacher skill; selection of application

Introduction to educational research

  • Share extraneous variables to your previous independent-dependent variables

Intervening variables

Intervening Variables

  • Another form of possible pollution

  • A variable that comes between indep/depend in their causal chain X  Y; X  I  Y

  • X = test, I = familiarity with test, Y = retest

  • X = test, I = growth of participant, Y = retest

  • X = text, I = researcher change, Y = retest

Experimental and nonexperimental research both quant qual

Experimental and nonexperimental research (both quant, & qual.)

  • Experimental = manipulates independent variable; uses random assignment to control group & controlled setting

  • Quasi-Experimental = does not provide full control of confounding variables because it does not randomly assign participants

  • Non-experimental = no manipulation of independent variable. Simply observes what transpires (quan or qual)

  • Causal-comparative research = type of non-experimental research where the primary independent variable is categorical – gender, religion, ethnicity

Experimental and nonexperimental research both quant qual1

Experimental and nonexperimental research (both quant, & qual.)

  • Correlational research = non-experimental method that studies relationships between two or more quantitative variables such as class size and reading scores.

  • Correlation coefficient = +1 0 -1 Do the two objects increase together (positive correlation) like GPA and SAT scores, or do they push in opposite directions (negative correlation) such as malnutrition and performance level.

Qualitative research

Qualitative Research

  • Ethnography = Writing about People

  • Shared attitudes, values, norms, practices, language and material things of a group of people.

Qualitative research1

Qualitative Research

  • Holistic = how members make a group. The group is more than the sum of the parts.

  • Does not dissect the frog to learn about frogs; it observes frogs in their ponds

Qualitative research2

Qualitative Research

  • Historical – examines the trends in education over the years; examines the changes in culture and careers; examines impacts of various reform policies

  • Ex: How has technology integration changed in BUSD schools since the inception of the PC in the 1980s and the Internet in 1992

Multi method research

Multi-method research

  • Recommended that serious topics are approached in a variety of ways. This allows for full coverage and future meta-analysis.

Other forms of research

Other Forms of Research

  • Individual case-study

  • Group case study

  • Developmental over time

  • Descriptive

  • Action – direct application of hypothesis, theory in the classroom

  • Gonzo – You make it happen. You are the Independent Variable (Hunter S. Thompson)



Johnson, B, & Christensen, L. (2000). Educational Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches. Needham Heights, MA: Pearson Education Company.

Isaac, S., & Michael, W. (1987). Handbook in Research and Evaluation.San Diego, CA: EdITS Publishers.

Introduction to educational research


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Pygmalion effect

Pygmalion Effect

  • The Pygmalion effect, Rosenthal effect, or more commonly known as the "teacher-expectancy effect" refers to situations in which students perform better than other students simply because they are expected to do so. The Pygmalion effect requires a student to internalise the expectations of their superiors.

Pygmalion effect1

Pygmalion Effect

  • It is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, and in this respect, students with poor expectations internalise their negative label, and those with positive labels succeed accordingly. Within sociology, the effect is often cited with regards to education and social class.

Literary origins

Literary Origins

  • The effect is named after George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, (My Fair Lady) in which a professor makes a bet that he can teach a poor flower girl to speak and act like an upper-class lady, and is successful.

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