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Problem Definition

Problem Definition

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Problem Definition

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  1. Problem Definition

  2. Review • What is research? • Characteristics of research? • Applied vs Basic research? • Inductive vs Deductive?

  3. Problem definition Problem definition

  4. Lesson objectives • Define research problem • Write problem statement • Describe quantitative and qualitative research

  5. The broad problem area • The entire situation where one sees a possible need for research or problem solving • Examples??

  6. 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

  7. Let’s search for ‘back-ups’

  8. Narrowing your research • Narrow it down to specific issues • Broad, general area • Begin with broad questions • Narrow down, focus to operationalize • Observe • Analyse data • Reach conclusions • Generalize back to questions

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. Formulating and stating the research problem

  13. 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

  14. The research problem is not.. • how to do something; • a vague or too broad a proposition; • a value question.

  15. 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 housewives can be more business minded • if there is a difference in the mean gain scores in achievement between students taught using a blended learning mode and those taught using traditional lecture.

  16. Try one .. • Community engagement among the 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?

  17. Research problem • 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 university students benefit from community engagement • Theory?

  18. Let’s find a research problem Academic connectedness of Postgraduate part time students

  19. Questions • What is the research problem? • What is the background? • What to read in order to justify? • What to research? • Purpose • Context • Scope

  20. Differentiate • A research topic is the broad subject matter being addressed in a study. • A research problem is an educational issue or problem in the study • A purpose is the major intent or objective of the study.

  21. Problem Tree

  22. Drawing a problem tree • Identify core problems • Identify effects • Identify causes • Identify all possible causes and effects

  23. Example 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

  24. Let’s try one Effects CORE PROBLEM There are incompetent teachers teaching in schools Causes

  25. Effects CORE PROBLEM Academic connectedness Causes Your problem?

  26. Stating a research problem

  27. 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?

  28. 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

  29. Problem statement • Introduces the reader to the importance of the problem (the concern). 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 ( corroborated) • Places the problem in a context • 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.

  30. 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

  31. Look at one.. Remedying the deficiencies For whom? Select Audiences Deficiencies in the Evidence Educational Issue Evidence for the Issue Topic Concern ? Corroborated? Context ?

  32. Documenting/ Reporting • Visualize the statement of the problem as paragraphs • Background – general info on the issue • research problem – provide context • justification – supporting literature, reports etc • deficiencies – provide the gap in research • relate the above to your purpose

  33. Example 1 Example 2

  34. Exercise • Read the article • http://www.eric-adler.com/en/social-competence/ • Find a research problem • Draw a problem tree

  35. Take a break Next: Qualitative and Quantitative Research

  36. Quantitative vs. Qualitative See handout

  37. Quantitative vs. Qualitative

  38. Let’s look at one example

  39. Let’s look at one example • Research problem • Since the Malaysian Prime Minister launched 1 Malaysia, there has been a number of government projects initiated to disseminate the concept. Private organizations and NGOs are also conducting events to provide information and exposure to the public; Media and television programs are also portraying the concept in advertisements and documentaries. With such huge spending on IT, it is interesting to find out if the people actually understand and are aware of 1 Malaysia

  40. Develop an idea for quantitative research • TOPIC: • Sample: ___

  41. Develop an idea for qualitative research • TOPIC: • Sample: ___

  42. 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

  43. 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?

  44. 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

  45. Tasks • Write your problem statement • Conduct background reading • Decide on qualitative or quantitative approach • Post your problem statement online • Let there be concern, corroboration and context • Ask yourself – • Will data be accessible? • Where and from whom will you get the data?

  46. Next Writing research questions

  47. Differences • A research topic is the broad subject matter being addressed in a study. • A research problem is an educational issue or problem in the study • A purpose is the major intent or objective of the study. • Research questions are questions the researcher would like answered or addressed in the study. • Survey questions??