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Educational Research: Post-analysis Considerations, Preparing and Evaluating a Research Report

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  1. Educational Research:Post-analysis Considerations, Preparing and Evaluating a Research Report EDU 8603 Educational Research Richard M. Jacobs, OSA, Ph.D.

  2. Completing a research study is not the terminus of the research process… …data must be verified and stored …results must be interpreted …the research report must be written

  3. In particular, computer analyses must be checked very carefully… …inputting mistakes lead to erroneous results

  4. Verifying the data... • The data must be double-checked, coding procedures verified, accuracy of computations examined, and the reasonableness of the findings evaluated …the research needs to find errors before reviewers, editors, and readers of scholarly journals do

  5. Storing the data... • After verifying the accuracy of the data, the researcher must label, organize and file the data in a safe place …the original data may be subsequently needed by the researcher or other researchers who may wish to examine the data utilizing different statistical techniques

  6. Interpreting research results... • The results of statistical analyses need to be interpreted in terms of… …the purpose of the study …the original research hypothesis …and with respect to other studies that have been conducted in the same area of research

  7. hypothesized results... …the researcher must describe adequately what statistics indicate about null hypothesis …the issue concerns statistical significance and why the researcher accepts/rejects the null hypothesis

  8. unhypothesized results... …during the research process an apparent relationship may emerge that was not previously hypothesized …collect and analyze data on these unforeseen relationships; present the results, but do not change or add to the original hypothesis

  9. …instead, use the unhypothesized results as the basis for a later study designed specifically to test the new hypothesis

  10. statistical issues... …valid inferences require that the sample be representative of the population …valid inferences also require that the conditions (or assumptions) underlying the statistical procedure are met

  11. …otherwise, bias enters into the statistics used and the research findings and, hence, the generalizations from them are weakened if not rendered meaningless

  12. methodological issues... …ignoring measurement error …ignoring low statistical power …performing multiple comparisons

  13. measurement error... …measurements are seldom error-free …large amounts of measurement error hamper the ability to find statistically significant research results

  14. statistical power... …the probability that a Type II error is avoided …however, lowering statistical power increases the likelihood that the researcher will overlook or miss the outcome desired

  15. statistical power depends upon four interrelated factors… …the sample size …the significance level selected …the direction of the significance test …the effect size (i.e., the degree of the departure from the null hypothesis)

  16. strategies for estimating the effect size…. …use the effect sizes of studies of the same phenomenon …select a cut-off score below which an effect size is judge unimportant …choose conventional, generally agreed upon definitions of small, medium, and large effect sizes

  17. to increase power…. …(a priori) increase the sample size …(a priori) increase the significance level

  18. the strongest support for a research hypothesis comes from replication… …as the study is repeated with different participants in the same or different settings …which increases the generalizability of the findings

  19. The matter of “significance”... • The fact of statistical significance does not automatically mean that a study’s results have any practical significance

  20. statistical significance... …the results of the study are likely to occur by chance a certain percentage of the time …the observed statistical relationship or differences is probably a real difference, but not necessarily an important one

  21. practical significance... …the results of the study are able to applied or used by practitioners or clinicians in their particular setting

  22. Preparing a research report... • After verifying, storing, and interpreting the data, the researcher begins the process of writing the final report… …which requires outlining and providing details for the general sections

  23. Elements of a research report… 1. preliminary pages 2. main body 3. appendices

  24. preliminary pages… …title page …acknowledgements page …table of contents …list of tables and figures …abstract

  25. title page... …indicates the title of the report, the author’s name, the requirement being fulfilled, the name and location of the institution, the date of submission of the report …states the purpose of the study as succinctly as possible

  26. acknowledgements page... …expresses an author’s appreciation to persons who have contributed significantly to the completion of the report

  27. table of contents... …provides an outline indicating on which page each major section (or chapter) and subsection begins

  28. list of tables and figures... …gives the number and title of each table and figure and the page on which it can be found

  29. abstract... …a statement summarizing the basic purposes of the study, including: the problem investigated, types of participants and instruments, the design, the procedures, the major results, as well as the major conclusions

  30. main body… …introduction …method …results …discussion …references

  31. introduction... …a well-written description of the problem, a review of related literature, and a definition of terms …should lead logically to the statement of the hypothesis

  32. method... …a description of the participants, instruments, design, procedures, assumptions, and limitations

  33. results... …describes the statistical techniques or qualitative interpretations that were applied to the data and the results of the analysis …information about the process applied during data analysis should be provided

  34. discussion... …identifies the agreement or disagreement of the findings with previous results obtained by other researchers in other studies or the hypotheses stated at the start of the study …identifies the theoretical and practical implications of the findings and makes recommendations for future research or future action

  35. references... …a listing of all sources, alphabetically by authors’ last names, directly used in writing the report

  36. appendices… …information and data that are pertinent to the study that either are not important enough to be included in the main body of the report or are too lengthy

  37. Some general rules for writing… ...format according to APA Publication Manual (5th edition) …use clear, simple, straight-forward style, including correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation …learn from the corrections provided on your 8603 exercises

  38. Evaluating research reports… • requires the development of a set of skills that enable an individual to differentiate the quality and value of research reports… …by accurately identifying their strengths and weaknesses

  39. General evaluative criteria… 1. introduction 2. method 3. results 4. discussion 5. abstract or summary

  40. introduction… …problem …review of literature …hypotheses

  41. method… …participants …instruments …design and procedure

  42. results… • discussion (including conclusions and recommendations)… • abstract or summary…

  43. Type-specific evaluative criteria… 1. qualitative research 2. descriptive research (including questionnaire, interview, and observation studies) 3. correlational research (including relationship and prediction studies) 4. causal-comparative research 5. experimental research

  44. Mini-Quiz… • True and false… …the larger the denominator in a parametric test of significance, the larger the numerator must be to attain significance True

  45. True and false… …computer analyses of data always provide accurate results of the data input into the program True

  46. True and false… …the product of a test of significance is a number True

  47. True and false… …what the test of significant means requires interpretation True

  48. True and false… …virtually any difference can be made significant if the sample is large enough True

  49. True and false… …the higher the level of significance at which the null hypothesis will be rejected, the more powerful the test True

  50. True and false… …the failure to reject the null hypothesis renders a study insignificant False