EDU 702 Problem definition
Lesson objectives • Define research problem • Write problem statement • Describe quantitative and qualitative research
Literature review Observation/ Background survey Broad area of research Theoretical framework Hypothesis generation Variables clearly identified Problem definition Research design Problem statement Research questions Deduction Methods Data collection Analysis Interpretation Hypothesis substantiated? RQ answered? Where we are now…
The broad problem area • The entire situation where one sees a possible need for research or problem solving • Examples • Malay students studying Physics • Soft skills of Faculty of Education students • Instructors lecturers using instructional technology
Narrowing your research • Narrow it down to specific issues • Malay students have problems studying certain Physics topics • More specific Issue : Problem solving skills, Difficulty in grasping concepts, • P&HE students not displaying soft skills needed • More specific issue: Poor communication skills • Women lecturers are having difficulties using instructional technology • Specific issue: technophobia, technology training
Researchquestions Problems Researchproblem Issues Concerns RESEARCHINTEREST/AREA Background survey Theoretical framework Putting things in perspective
Background survey • Justifying your choice of the area in research • What is there a need to do this research • Need backing up • Government policies • Institutional reports/ strategic plans • Research reports • Press report/ speeches
Problem definition • Defining a problem • Not necessarily something that is seriously wrong • Can be an issues of interest • Find answers to improve existing situation • A situation where a gap exist between actual and desired state
Problem definition • Could be • An issue/ matter you want to understand • Existing educational problems that you are seeking to solve • Situations that you want to improve • Areas where some conceptual clarity is needed • Situations in which the researcher is trying to answer a research question empirically
The research problem is.. • a set of conditions needing discussion, a solution, and information. • implies the possibility of empirical investigation, that is, of data collection and analysis
The research problem is not.. • how to do something; • a vague or too broad a proposition; • a value question.
Try this.. • The purpose of the study is to determine: • whether the suspension policy should be changed. • the truth of the proposition that Malaysian education has encouraged exam oriented learners who aim at getting a string of As • how students can overcome test anxiety. • if there is a difference in the mean gain scores in reading achievement between students taught word attack skills and those taught comprehensive skills.
Try one .. • Soft skills of Faculty of Education students • What is the research problem? • What is the background? • Government policies • Institutional reports/ strategic plans • Research reports • Press report/ speeches • What to read in order to justify? • What to research?
Problem definition • Essential to define your research problem very carefully, • Ask why you’ve chosen it , why not another problem • Helps you to choose a suitable method of researching it • Prevent you from reading rather indiscriminately • you don’t know quite what you’re looking for • make more notes than you need.
Problem definition • Be as deductive as you can • Relate your research problem to a theory • A theory is an explanation of events or phenomena or behaviour • Phenomena in education - theories from cognitive psychology, sociology, psycholinguistics, management, computer science. • Example: Finding out whether providing children with multimedia presentations explaining science concepts will enhance understanding • Theory?
Let’s look at your research problem • The area of your research • State whether • Existing educational problems that you are seeking to solve • Situations that you want to improve • Areas where some conceptual clarity is needed • Situations in which the researcher is trying to answer a research question empirically • Why do you choose this ‘problem?
Drawing a problem tree • Identify core problems • Identify effects • Identify causes • Identify all possible causes and effects
Withdrawal, Deferment of studies, Dropout Poor grades Complaints Failure to achieve meaningful experience Anxiety Frustration Dissatisfaction Learning outcomes not achieved Effects Distance Learners not able to learn effectively CORE PROBLEM Causes Epistemological problems (course structure, difficulty level and so forth) Institutional / Administrative Problems Learners’ personal problems and characteristics Learner problems Lack of learning skills/ Strategies Ambiguous instructions and other pedagogical issues Learners cannot manage their learning environment Learners cannot manage their learning activities Role conflicts Family problems Financial problems Learning style / approach does not fit Low academic self-concept Logistic/Infrastructure problems Anxiety, fear of technology & technology failure Poorly designed learning materials Inability to sustain motivation Unsure of new learning mode Lack readiness Lack self-direction Isolation Lack of structure and direction Inability to maintain strong attention to goals sought Lack of self-regulation Lack of discipline Lack technical ability Minimal F2Fsessions Travel problems Communication problems Procrastination Poor time management Lack of support and feedback Example
No harmony on campus Bitterness No cooperation between groups Learners cannot tolerate each other Learners stay in their own groups Effects CORE PROBLEM There exists differences between students from different clusters Causes Perceived competence Learner characteristics Social and economic background Let’s try one
Effects CORE PROBLEM Students do not have the acceptable level of soft skills Causes Exercise
Problem statement • Problem statement • A clear, precise and succinct statement of the question/issue that is to be investigated • How ? • no one "right" way to state one • American vs. British
Problem statement • Introduces the reader to the importance of the problem. The reader is oriented to the significance of the study and the research questions or hypotheses to follow. • You could relate your problem to the findings of prior research ( a few) • Places the problem in a context ( remember Botswana elearning readiness?) • Provides the framework for reporting the results. Indicate what is probably necessary to conduct the study and explain how the findings will present this information.
Flow of Ideas in a Problem Statement FLOW OF IDEAS Remedying the deficiencies For whom? Select Audiences Deficiencies in the Evidence Educational Issue Evidence for the Issue Topic Subject Area • A Concern • A Problem • Something that needs a solution • Evidence from the literature • Evidence from practical • experiences • In this body of evidence, what is missing? • What do we need to know more about? • How will addressing • what we need to • know help: researchers • educators • policy-makers • individuals like • those in the study
Documenting/ Reporting • Visualize the statement of the problem as the first five paragraphs • background • research problem • justification • deficiencies • relate discussion to audience
TAKE A BREAK Next: Qualitative and Quantitative Research
Quantitative vs. Qualitative See handout
Let’s look at one example • Research problem • Since the computer-related technologies became widely available, companies started to employ the new technologies seeking efficiency and effectiveness benefits. With such huge spending on IT, it is interesting to find out if there is any scientific evidence for association between IT capability and a company’s competitive advantage. • The question posed : Does a company benefit from employing IT? If so, how?
Research 1 • TOPIC: A resource-based perspective on IT capability and firm performance: An empirical investigation • In this research, IT in a company is studied from the point of resource-based view of company • The research method employed in this paper is statistical testing of hypotheses. • The author comes up with two main hypotheses: • Superior IT capability will be associated with significantly higher profit ratios. • Superior IT capability will be associated with significantly lower cost ratios • Sample: 56 companies
Research 2 • Implementing supply chain management: Lessons learned at Medi-Alpha • This research deals with implementation of the IT technology at a major manufacturer of medical equipment and supplies. • The focus of the research is on the question, whether launching of new technology did improve company’s performance. • The object of this single in-depth case study was the company’s strategy.
Research 3 • Approaches to the development of multi-dimensional database: Lessons from four case studies • The research explores the manner in which an organization’s data can be effectively utilized to assist an organization to achieve its business objectives. It presents Multi-Dimensional Data Bases (MDDB) as a new tool of making a more efficient use of company’s data • The research method employed was a combination of classic case study and implementation of a prototype. • Four case studies were carried out.The analysis of the four case studies intended to explore suitability of different approaches to system development.
Statistics anyone? • Statistical analysis is helpful when there is a need to determine certain facts, or correlations between facts. • Helpful when doing research on a broader scale • Generally, it provides an answer to ‘what?’ question • ‘How’ question is better answered by qualitative researching
Qualitative Problem statement • Qualitative research problem statement • The problem should be stated clearly and unambiguously • The problem should express what is it that you want to explore , to understand • What is the meaning of A? • How does A exist ? • Why A happens?
Quantitative Problem statement • Quantitative research problem statement • The problem should be stated clearly and unambiguously • The problem should express a relation between two or more variables • Is A related to B? • How are A and B related? • How is A related to B under condition C? • Is there a difference between A and B in terms of C? • Implies possibilities of empirical testing
Tasks • Write your problem statement • Conduct background reading • Decide on qualitative or quantitative approach
Next Writing research questions