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Educational Research: Introduction to the Concept. EDU 8603 Educational Research Richard M. Jacobs, OSA, Ph.D. Research. The systematic application of a family of methods employed to provide trustworthy information about problems.

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Educational Research: Introduction to the Concept

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Educational Research: Introduction to the Concept

EDU 8603

Educational Research

Richard M. Jacobs, OSA, Ph.D.


  • The systematic application of a family of methods employed to provide trustworthy information about problems

…an ongoing process based on many accumulated understandings and explanations that, when taken together lead to generalizations about problems and the development of theories

The basic steps of research...

Scientific and disciplined inquiry is an orderly process, involving:

recognition and identification of a topic to be studied (“problem”)

description and execution of procedures to collection information (“method”)

objective data analysis

statement of findings (“results”)

Types of research...


…the process of collecting and analyzing information to develop or enhance a theory


…conducted for the purpose of applying or testing theory and evaluating its usefulness for solving problems


…concerned with making decisions about the quality, effectiveness, or value of programs, products, or practices

The research continuum…



evaluation research

pure research



current problems

theory development

what works

why it works

produces concepts

provides data

Approaches to reasoning...


…developing generalizations from a limited number of specific observations or experiences

…highly dependent on the number and representativeness of the specific observations used to make the generalization


…developing specific predictions from general principles, observations, or experiences

…dependent on the truth of the generalizations used as a basis for its logic

Relating reasoning with research methods…

laboratory work

field work

evaluation research

pure research



researcher intersubjectivity

researcher objectivity

post-structuralism: depth

logical positivism: factual



Research methods...


…collects and analyzes numerical data obtained from formal instruments


…collects and analyzes nonnumeric data over an extended period of time to situate meaning within a particular perspective or context

Quantitative methods...

  • descriptive research (“survey research”)

  • correlational research

  • causal-comparative research (“ex post facto research”)

  • experimental research

  • descriptive research (“survey research”)

…collects data in order to answer questions about the current status of the subject or topic of study

…uses formal instruments to study preferences, attitudes, practices, concerns, or interests of a sample

  • correlational research

…determines whether and to what degree a relationship exists between two or more variables

…the presence of a correlation does not indicate a cause-effect relationship primarily due to multiple confounding factors

Correlation coefficient (r)…




strong positive

strong negative

no relationship

A positive correlationship…



A negative correlationship…



No correlationship…



No correlationship…



  • causal-comparative research (“ex post facto research”)

…at least two different groups are compared on a dependent variable or measure of performance (called the “effect”) because the independent variable (called the “cause”) has already occurred or cannot be manipulated


…a concept (e.g., intelligence, height, aptitude) that can assume any one of a range of values

Research variables...


…an activity or characteristic believed to make a difference with respect to some behavior

…(syn.) experimental variable, cause, treatment


…the change or difference occurring a a result of the independent variable

…(syn.) criterion variable, effect, outcome, posttest

  • experimental research

…the researcher selects participants and divides them into two or more groups having similar characteristics and, then, applies the treatment(s) to the groups and measures the effects upon the groups

Quantitative method decision tree…

Is there a cause-effect relationship?



Is the independent variable manipulated?

Is there a relationship or prediction being made?









Qualitative methods...

  • historical research

  • grounded theory

  • ethnography

  • phenomenology

  • ethology

  • case study

  • ethnomethodology

  • action research

  • symbolic interaction

  • historical research

…studies available data to study, understand, and interpret past events

  • ethnography

…studies cultural patterns and perspectives of participants in their natural settings

  • ethology

…compares the origins, characteristics, and culture of different societies

  • ethnomethodology

…studies how people make sense of their everyday activities in order to behave in socially accepted ways

  • symbolic interaction

…investigates how people construct meaning and shared perspectives by interacting with others

  • grounded theory

…investigates how inductively-derived theory about phenomenon is grounded in the data of a particular setting

  • phenomenology

…considers how the experience of particular participants exhibits a unique perspective

  • case study

…examines the characteristics of a particular entity, phenomenon, or person

  • action research

…practitioner-based systematic reflection upon practice aimed at improving professional practice

Generally speaking, qualitative researchers….

…spend a great deal of time in the settings being studied (fieldwork)

…rely on themselves as the main instrument of data collection (subjectivity; intersubjectivity)

…analyze data using interpretative lenses

…employ expressive language and voice in descriptions and explanations

…seek depth of perspective (i.e., “waves of data” requiring ongoing interpretation)

…judged in terms of believability, trustworthiness, coherence, and logic of interpretations

Types of criticism...


…evaluates the worth or trustworthiness of the content of the data


…assesses the authenticity of the data source

  • data sources…




Limitations of the scientific and disciplined inquiry approach…

  • not able to investigate philosophical and/or moral/ethical problems (“shoulds” and “oughts”) only factual matters

  • the presence of intervening and confounding variables make assertions probable rather than proven

  • imperfections in sampling, instruments, procedures


  • Identify the research methodology…

…a study of the research on the effect of anxiety on achievement from 1900 to 1990


…a study of the effect of socioeconomic status on self-concept


…a study to compare the achievement of two groups: one group taught in an anxiety-producing environment and one group taught in an anxiety reducing environment


…a study of the personal and educational interactions in a group of teachers developing social studies standards for a high school curriculum


…a study to compare the achievement of a group of students classified as high-anxious and a group classified as low-anxious


…a study of teachers’ attitudes toward unions


…a study of the effect of large-group versus small-group instruction upon achievement


…a study of SAT preparation by three students, with particular emphasis on their anxiety


…a study to determine the relationship between scores on an anxiety scale and scores on an achievement measure


…a survey of teachers to determine how and to what degree they believe anxiety affects achievement


This module has focused on...

introductory research concepts

…which enable educators to access, understand, and evaluate research findings and the claims purported by researchers

The next module will focus on...

research problems the foundation for a literature review and the formulation of a hypothesis

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