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Educational Research: Descriptive Research. 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 descriptive research

Educational Research: Descriptive Research

EDU 8603

Educational Research

Richard M. Jacobs, OSA, Ph.D.

research
Research...
  • 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

quantitative research methods
Quantitative research methods...

…collect and analyze numerical data obtained from formal instruments

quantitative methods
Quantitative methods...
  • descriptive research (“survey research”)
  • correlational research
  • causal-comparative research (“ex post facto research”)
  • experimental research
slide5

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

the basic steps of descriptive research
The basic steps of descriptive research...

An orderly scientific and disciplined process, involving:

recognizing and identifying a topic to be studied

selecting an appropriate sample of participants

collecting valid and reliable data

reporting conclusions

classifications of descriptive research studies
Classifications of descriptive research studies...

cross-sectional survey…

…involves collecting data from selected individuals in a single time period however long it takes to collect data from participants

slide8

longitudinal survey…

…involves collecting data at two or more instances in order to measure changes over time

slide9

self-report survey…

…requires individuals to respond to a series of statements or questions about themselves

slide10

observation study…

…the researcher obtains data by watching participants in a situation

types of longitudinal surveys
Types of longitudinal surveys...
  • trend survey
  • cohort survey
  • panel survey
  • follow-up survey
slide12

trend survey

…a study where a sample is taken from the general population in order to collect data over time

…involves different groups and different samples over time

slide13

cohort survey

…a study where a specific population is examined by sampling different groups within the population over time

…involves the same group but different samples from that group over time

slide14

panel survey

…a study where the same group and the same sample are examined over time

slide15

follow-up survey

…a study undertaken after a panel survey and seeks to examine subsequent development or change

conducting a questionnaire study
Conducting a questionnaire study…

1. state the problem

2. select participants

3. construct the questionnaire

4. prepare cover letter

5. pretest questionnaire

6. follow up activities

7. analyze/report results

slide17

1. state the problem…

…topic must be of sufficient significance to motivate potential respondents and justify the research effort in the first place

…define topic in terms of specific objectives indicating the kind of information needed

slide18

2. select participants…

…use an appropriate sampling technique

…participants must be able to provide the desired information sought and willing to provide it to the researcher

slide19

3. construct the instrument…

…should be attractive, brief, and easy to fill out

…there are a variety of data collection methods that can be used, including: questionnaires, interviews, observations, and telephone calls

slide20

types of self-report items

…scaled

…ranked

…checklist

…free response

designing an instrument
Designing an instrument…

…include a brief statement describing the study and its purpose at the top of the instrument

…provide standardized directions

…organize items leaving sufficient white space on instrument

slide22

…place similar items together

…ask general, non-threatening items first, moving into more specific, self-revealing items

slide23

some do’s and don’t’s…

…construct items according to a set of predetermined guidelines

…include only items relating directly to the purpose of the study

…avoid jargon or any term or concept that might mean different things to different people

slide24

…each item should deal with a single concept and be worded as clearly as possible

…items should indicate a point of reference beyond the self in order to judge the self

…avoid ambiguous terms like several or usually

slide25

…avoid touchy matters in items which respondents might not respond to honestly or at all

…avoid leading questions which suggest that one response may be more appropriate than another

…each item must be able to stand on its own

slide26

…don’t jam items together

…don’t put the most important questions at the end of the instrument

slide27

4. prepare the cover letter…

…a brief, neat, explanation of the significance of the study and what is being asked of the respondent and why

…addressed to the specific, potential respondent

slide28

…an endorsement adds credibility

…guarantee anonymity or confidentiality

…include a specific deadline date by which the completed instrument (“questionnaire”) is to be returned

slide29

…individually sign each letter

…include a self-addressed, stamped, return envelope

slide30

5. pretest the instrument…

…conduct a pilot study to gather information about deficiencies and suggestions for improving the instrument

…provides greater content validity

slide31

6. follow-up activities…

…because first mailing results tend to be low (30% - 50% response rate), researchers need strategies to increase the response rate

slide32

initial follow-up strategies to increase response rate up to 20%…

…send out reminder postcard

…mail a second packet with a new, positively worded cover letter and another self-addressed, stamped, return envelope

slide33

secondary follow-up strategies to increase response rate up to 10%…

…telephone nonrespondents to encourage them to respond

slide34

dealing with nonrespondents

…study whether nonrespondents differ from respondents in some systematic way by selecting a sample from the nonrespondents

…telephone sample, aggregate data, include in report

slide35

dealing with nonresponses

…study the items to determine the problem with the item

…include description of the nonresponses and the determination of the reason in the report

slide36

7. analyze/report results…

…discriminant item analysis includes giving the response rate for each item as well as the total sample size and the overall percentage of returns, since not all respondents will answer questions

slide37

…group items into clusters that address the same issue and develop total scores across an item cluster in order to avoid “information overload”

conducting an interview study
Conducting an interview study…

1. state the problem

2. select participants

3. construct the interview guide

4. communicate professionally and record responses accurately

5. pretest interview procedure

6. analyze/report results

slide39

1. state the problem…

…topic must be of sufficient significance to motivate individuals to participate and justify the research effort in the first place

…define topic in terms of specific objectives indicating the kind of information needed

slide40

2. select participants…

…use an appropriate sampling technique

…participants must be able to provide the desired information sought and willing to provide it to the researcher

slide41

3. construct the interview instrument (“instrument guide”)…

…indicates the question to be asked, the order, and how much additional prompting or probing is permitted

…the goal is to obtain standardized, comparable data from each interviewee

slide42

4. communicate professionally and record responses accurately…

…effective interviewing requires training and experience to avoid interviewer bias and interviewer error

slide43

…record responses manually on the interview guide

…(requires interviewee permission) use a tape recorder or VCR to verify accuracy of responses

slide44

5. pretest interview procedure…

…use a small group from the same population or a similar population to the one being studied to validate the interview instrument and the interviewer’s communication and recording skills

slide45

6. analyze/report results…

…item analysis includes giving the response rate for each item, as well as the total sample size and the overall percentage of returns, since not every respondent will answer all questions

slide46

…also include in-depth data to open-ended interview items to portray responses in more accurate and honest terms

conducting an observational study
Conducting an observational study…

1. state the problem

2. select participants

3. define the observational variables

4. record observations

5. assess observer reliability

6. reduce observer bias

7. analyze/report results

slide48

1. state the problem…

…topic must be of sufficient significance to motivate potential respondents and justify the research effort in the first place

…define topic in terms of specific objectives indicating the kind of information needed

slide49

2. select participants…

…use an appropriate sampling technique

…participants must be able to provide the desired information sought and willing to provide it to the researcher

slide50

3. define the observational variables…

…operationalize the variables to be observed in terms of specific behaviors that can be quantified

…ensure that the observations can be quantified in a way so that all observers will count the behavioral activities in exactly the same way

slide52

4. record observations…

…record behavior at the time it occurs

…alternate observation periods and recording periods

slide53

5. assess observer reliability…

…use at least two observers who make independent observations

…compute interobserver reliability

slide54

6. reduce observer bias…

…train observers until a satisfactory level of agreement is achieved (at least 80%)

…monitor observers

slide55

types of observer bias

…response set

…halo effect

…knowledge of participants

slide56

response set

…the tendency of an observer to rate the majority of observees as above average, average, or below average regardless of the observees’ actual behavior

slide57

halo effect

…the tendency of an observer’s initial positive or negative impressions of the observee to affect subsequent observations

slide58

self-fulfilling prophecy

…the tendency of an observer’s knowledge of the observees or the purposes of the study to affect the observation(s)

meta analysis
Meta-Analysis...
  • a statistical approach to summarizing the results of many studies that have investigated basically the same problem

…provides a numerical coefficient expressing the “average” result of the studies

slide60

…requiring the researcher to find, describe, classify, and code the research studies to be included meta-analytic review, and for measuring and analyzing the study findings

slide61

…each study’s results are translated into an effect size (ES) which is a numerical expression of the strength or magnitude of a reported relationship, be it causal or not

slide62

Xe – Xc

ES = 

SDc

Where Xe = the mean score of the experimental group

Xc = the mean score of the control group

SDc = the standard deviation of the control group

strength or magnitude of an effect size d
Strength or magnitude of an effect size (D)…

-.80

0.00

+.80

strong positive

strong negative

both groups performed similarly

experimental group performed better than control group

control group performed better than experimental group

mini quiz
Mini-Quiz…
  • True or false…

…in a descriptive research study, the researcher predetermines what variables will be surveyed before selecting or observing the research participants

True

slide65

…one of the most difficult activities on the part of questionnaire researchers is to write or select questions that are clear and unambiguous

True

slide67

…one of the problems with longitudinal studies is that the samples tend to shrink as time goes by

True

slide68

…one of the problems with cross-sectional studies is selecting samples that truly represent the population at a particular level or ability

True

slide69

…an external review of an instrument provides the researcher greater assurance of it its content validity

True

slide70

…if the responses from respondents and nonrespondents are essentially the same, the researcher may assume that the response group is representative of the whole sample and that the survey results are generalizable

True

slide71

…if the responses from respondents and nonrespondents are different, the generalizability across both the respondent and nonrespondent groups is not present and must be discussed in the report

True

slide72

…analyzing clusters of instrument items related to the same issue improves the reliability of the scores

True

slide74

…although there are no hard and fast rules, it is generally agreed than an effect size in the twenties indicates a treatment that produces a relatively small effect, whereas an effect size in the eighties indicates a powerful treatment

True

slide75
Fill in the blank…

…a study requiring individuals to respond to a series of statements or questions about themselves

self-report study

slide76
Fill in the blank…

…a study in which individuals are not directly asked for information but data is obtained as the researcher watches participants engage in a situation

observation study

slide77
Fill in the blank…

…items on a survey that are answered by circling a letter, checking a list, or numbering preferences

close-ended items

slide78
Fill in the blank…

…the researcher guarantees that no one, including the researcher, knows who completed each questionnaire

anonymity

slide79
Fill in the blank…

…the researcher guarantees that no one, except the researcher, knows who completed each questionnaire and promises not to divulge that information

confidentiality

slide80
Fill in the blank…

…the oral, in person administration of an instrument to each member of a sample

interview

slide81
Fill in the blank…

…determining the current status of a phenomenon not through an instrument but as the researcher watches the participants engage in the activity being studied

observational study

slide82
Fill in the blank…

…an observation in which the researcher watches behavior as it normally unfolds

naturalistic observation

slide83
Fill in the blank…

…an observation in which the researcher creates a situation to be observed and tells participants what activities to engage in

simulation observation

slide84
Fill in the blank…

…a coefficient found by dividing the total number of agreed observations by the total number of agreed and disagreed observations

inter-observer reliability

slide85
Fill in the blank…

…a means by which observers record observations at the time it occurs by simplifying the recording process

coding

slide86
Fill in the blank…

…a statistical approach that summarizes the results of many studies having investigate the same problem

meta-analysis

this module has focused on
This module has focused on...

descriptive research

…which involves collecting data in order to test hypotheses or to answer questions about the opinions of people about some topic or issue

the next module will focus on
The next module will focus on...

correlational research

...which involves collecting data in order to determine whether, and to what degree, a relationship exists between two or more quantifiable variables