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Educational Research: Research Problems and the Research Plan. EDU 8603 Educational Research Richard M. Jacobs, OSA, Ph.D. Research begins with a problem. The research problem …. …a question arising from personal experience or thought. …lends itself to further investigation.

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Educational Research: Research Problems andthe Research Plan

EDU 8603

Educational Research

Richard M. Jacobs, OSA, Ph.D.


Research begins with a problem...

The research problem…

…a question arising from personal experience or thought

…lends itself to further investigation

…transforms through the problem identification process into the research topic


Sources of research problems...

personal experience

theory

replication


personal experience…

…hunches

…serendipity

…sensitivity


theory…

…an organized body of concepts, constructs, generalizations, and principles that can be subjected to investigation


replication…

…conducting the study again to verify or disconfirm previous findings


The characteristics of a good research topic...

interesting

…related to area of expertise and of significant personal/professional interest


researchable

…can be investigated through the collection and analysis of data


of practical significance

…contributes to the body of human knowledge and/or professional practice


manageable

…fits the level and skills of the researcher(s), needed resources, and time restrictions


The statement of the research topic...

Indicates the variables of interest to the researcher (X, Y), the specific relationship between those variables that will be investigated, and the nature of the participants involved


…accompanied by a presentation of the background of the topic

…provides justification for the study in terms of its significance

…indicates the prediction of the results of the research findings

…states the limitations of the study


The review of the literature...

The systematic identification, location, and analysis of documents containing information related to the research problem


…identifies research already completed of significance to the research topic

…points out research strategies and specific procedures that have not been found to be productive in investigating the research topic

…facilitates interpretation of study results


Cautions from experience...

bigger does not mean better

heavily researched topics provide best primary sources

less-researched topics require the review of any study meaningfully related to the topic in order to formulate a logical framework for the study and a sound rationale for the research hypothesis


Literature sources...

primary

secondary

tertiary


primary

…a published study written by the researcher(s) who conducted the study


secondary (“cited in”)

…contain complete bibliographic information in the references section that can direct the researcher(s) to relevant primary sources

…an excellent source indicating significant research studies that have influenced the research


tertiary

…reports what others have summarized about a particular research topic in a convenient format

…oftentimes not a reputable source for the breadth and depth of research into a particular topic


Cautions from experience...

carefully evaluate sources

keep careful notes of the literature reviewed

build correctly formatted bibliography during the literature review process

write abstract for each entry which includes key words


Writing a review of the literature…

 involves a technical form of writing that requires clarity in definitions and consistency in the use of terms

 in the social sciences, the normative guide is the Manual of Style of the American Psychological Association


The five elements of a review of the literature…

1. Outline

2.Analyze/organize references (in reverse chronological order)

3.Compare/contrast like references

4. Arrange references (“V” form)

5. Summarizes literature and identifies implications


The review of the literature frames the hypothesis…

  • A hypothesis…

…tentative prediction of the results of the research findings that states the relationship between the variables identified in the research topic


Types of hypotheses…

  • Inductive hypothesis…

…a generalization based on observed relationships

…oftentimes used for qualitative research studies


  • deductive hypothesis…

…a generalization derived from theory

…oftentimes used in quantitative research studies


  • research hypothesis (H1)…

…states an expected relationship between at least two variables

…directional: states the expected direction of the relationship or difference

…nondirectional: states that a relationship or difference exists


  • null hypothesis (H0)…

…states that there is no significant relationship or difference between two variables


Stating a hypothesis…

  • A good hypothesis is stated clearly and concisely, expressing the relationship between two variable and variables in measurable terms


  • involves at least three variables…

P: the participants

X: the treatment, causal, or independent variable

Y: the observed outcome, effect, or dependent variable


Stating a research hypothesis…

P who get X do better on Y

than P who do not get X


Stating a null hypothesis…

There is no difference on Y between P who get X

and P who do not get X


Other general considerations…

  • Ethical obligations

  • Legal restrictions

  • Gaining access

  • Conducting a pilot study


Ethical obligations…

  • the ends do not justify the means

…a primary responsibility to maintain the well-being of study participants

…National Research Act of 1974 requires prior review and approval by an approved board as well as informed consent of study participants


Legal restrictions…

  • the issues of confidentiality and personal privacy

…The Privacy Act of 1974 safeguards and protects the privacy of students’ educational records (“freedom from harm”)


  • the issue of deception

…a study that requires deception should be reviewed by an advisor and/or the Human Subjects Review Committee


Gaining access…

  • Oftentimes requires getting approval to conduct the study in the chosen site

…use salesmanship to demonstrate the design’s careful study, value of study, as well as its minimal intrusiveness into and inconvenience for participants’ routine


Conducting a pilot study…

  • a small scale field test of the research study provides a means to identify unanticipated problems or issues

…allows for revisions and improvements to the research plan prior to conducting the study


The research plan…

  • A detailed description of the procedures to be used to investigate a research topic


…provides an overview of the study to be conducted and permits an assessment of the impact of any changes that may be needed as the study is undertaken

…indicates the tentative prediction of the results of the research findings


An overview of the five basic components of a research plan...

1. Introduction

2.Method

3.Data Analysis

4.Time Schedule

5.Budget (if appropriate)


1. The introduction section...

  • Provides an overview of the topic to be studied, reviews the related literature to present a rationale for conducting the study and, where appropriate, states the hypothesis in a style to facilitate the reader’s understanding


Statement of the topic…

…given the nature of the particular research approach adopted, describes the background of the topic and provides a rationale for the significance of the study


Review of the literature…

…provides an overview of the topic and references related to what is currently known (unknown) about the topic

…indicates the need for further research


Statement of the hypothesis…

…clearly and concisely states the expected relationship (or difference) between the variables of the study, defining those variables in operational, measurable, or common-usage terms


2. The method section...

  • Describes the procedures used by the researcher to select participants, measure effects, and analyze the data

…the approach to the conduct of the study defines the method (e.g., descriptive, causal-comparative, correlational, experimental, historical, ethnography)


Research participants…

…identifies the number, source, and characteristics of the sample and defines the population from which the sample will be selected


Instruments…

…the research that will be used in the study to measure the variables stated in the hypothesis


Materials/Apparati…

…identifies any special booklets, training manuals, or computer programs as well as any machines or ancillary items to be used when conducting the study


Design…

…the general strategy for the conduct of the study


Procedure…

…a description of each step that will be followed when conducting the study, from beginning to end, in the order in which each step will occur


3. The data analysis section...

  • Identifies the analysis technique(s) to be used in the study


4. The time schedule section...

  • Lists the major activities or phases of the proposed study and the corresponding expected completion time for each activity


5. The budget section...

  • Identifies the costs associated with conducting the study


To recapitulate...

The five elements of a research plan…

…Introduction

…Method

…Data Analysis

…Time Schedule

…Budget (if appropriate)


Mini-Quiz…

  • True or false…

…the worth of a research topic is a function of the amount of literature available on the topic

false


  • True or false…

…abstracting the references involves locating, reviewing, summarizing, and classifying the references

true


  • True or false…

…the majority of research findings contribute to the body of human knowledge

false


  • True or false…

…Boolean operators involve the use of connectors in a search string to broaden and narrow a key word search

true


  • True or false…

…qualitative research involves special ethical considerations because the degree of proximity between participants and researcher(s) can introduce subjectivity into data interpretation

true


  • True or false…

…a good research hypothesis is inconsistent with theory or previous research

false


  • True or false…

…time spent in the library after formulating the research topic will save time in the long run

true


  • True or false…

…in a research study, references are arranged in chronological order

false


  • True or false…

…the hypothesis is formulated from a theory or the review of the related literature before the study is executed

true


  • True or false…

…the analysis of the data does not lead to a hypothesis being proven or disproven

true


  • True or false…

…any research study that requires deceitful practice cannot be carried out

false


  • True or false…

…topics that contain the word should cannot be answered by research of any kind, because they ultimately are a matter of opinion

true


  • True or false…

…the review of the literature provides a rationale for the research hypothesis

true


  • True or false…

…researchers normally start the review of the literature by reading primary sources

false


  • True or false…

…a researcher sets out to prove the hypothesis

false


  • True or false…

…a refereed journal is one in which the articles have been reviewed by a panel of experts

true


  • True or false…

…an operational definition explains what a variable is

false


  • Fill in the blank…

…the researcher does not know the identities of the participants providing data for the study

anonymity


  • Fill in the blank…

…the group to which the researcher would like the results of a study to be generalizable

population


  • Fill in the blank…

…a chart that identifies the concurrent activities that are part of a research study

Gantt chart


  • Fill in the blank…

…the researcher knows the identities of the participants providing data for the study but will not release those identities to anyone else

confidentiality


  • Fill in the blank…

…a number of individuals selected from the population for a study

sample


  • Fill in the blank…

…a tool used by researchers to gather data

instrument


  • Fill in the blank…

…the general strategy for conducting a research study

design


  • Fill in the blank…

…a field test of a research study usually tried out on a small scale to identify unanticipated problems or issues

pilot study


  • Which type of hypothesis…

…there is a significant difference in the achievement of 10th-grade biology students who are instructed using interactive multimedia and those who receive regular instruction only

nondirectional


  • Which type of hypothesis…

…there is no significant difference in the achievement level of 10-grade biology students who are instructed using interactive multimedia and those who receive regular instruction only

null


  • Which type of hypothesis…

…tenth-grade biology students who are instructed using interactive multimedia achieve at a higher level than those who receive regular instruction only

directional


This module has focused on...

the research plan

…which describes the procedures to be used to investigate a research topic


The next module will focus on...

research participants

...as the foundation for understanding the importance of selecting a representative group of participants as well as the techniques to achieve this outcome


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