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Introduction to Research. by Dr. Daniel Churchill. About The Facilitator. Dr. Daniel Churchill Faculty of Education The University of Hong Kong Email: Phone: 2859.1141. About MITE6025. There will be 8 sessions MITE6025 blog

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Introduction to research

Introduction to Research

by Dr. Daniel Churchill

About the facilitator
About The Facilitator

  • Dr. Daniel ChurchillFaculty of EducationThe University of Hong Kong

  • Email:

  • Phone: 2859.1141

About mite6025
About MITE6025

  • There will be 8 sessions

  • MITE6025 blog

  • The purpose of this course is to introduce to methods of research and contribute to you preparation for MITE/MILM Dissertation/Project

About the sessions
About the Sessions

  • Lessons

  • Group Activities

  • Critical Readings

  • Assignment


  • Group work

  • Individual Assignment: Write a Research Plan

Content overview
Content Overview

  • What is Research?

  • Educational Research

  • Research Classification: Basic and Applied Research

  • Approaches to Educational Research: Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research

  • Descriptive Research, Correlational Research, Causal-comparative Research, Experimental Research

  • Historical Research and Naturalistic Inquiry

  • Task 1

What is research
What is Research?

  • Research is the systematic and objective approach to scholarly inquiry:

    • Directed toward the solution of a problem and advancement of human knowledge though the development of theories

    • Utilizes carefully designed procedures that apply rigorous analysis

    • Builds on expertise:

      • Knows what is already known about the problem

      • How others have investigated it

    • Remains objective and logical by applying every possible test to validate the procedures employed, the data collected, and the conclusions reached

Educational research
Educational Research

  • Educational Research explains, predicts and/or control educational phenomenon

  • Educational research is conducted in the following way:

    • Define -- a significant problem, hypothesis or question

    • Plan -- review literature to establish background to the study, identify methodology, plan procedure

    • Execute research procedures -- collect data e.g., interviews, surveys, questionnaires, observations

    • Analyze data -- qualitatively, quantitatively or a mixed way

    • Draw conclusions and recommendations

Research classification
Research Classification

  • Basic or Fundamental Research -- develops theories

  • Applied Research -- application of theory to the solution of a problem and improvement in practice:

    • Evaluation Research -- systematic process of gathering data to make a decision

    • Research and Development -- develops effective products for use in education

    • Action Research -- improvement in practice

Examples of applied research
Examples of Applied Research

  • Evaluation Research:

    • Should Alfred Lim be placed in a program for students with specific learning ability?

  • Research and Development:

    • Develop a set of learning objects to facilitate students understanding of motion and forces

  • Action Research:

    • What can be done to prevent students’ misconceptions in the topic of “Moon Phases” in sciences class?

  • Activity -- Let’s think of some possible questions

Approaches to educational research
Approaches to Educational Research

  • Quantitative approach -- involves collection of numerical data and statistical analysis (deductive analysis)

    • Descriptive research

    • Correlational research

    • Causal-comparative research – cause relationship

    • Experimental research – setting condition and apply to real case and do the comparison.

  • Qualitative approach -- involves collection of narrative data (interview transcript, field notes) in search for understanding (inductive analysis)

    • Historical Research – past records to do the evaluation.

    • Naturalistic Inquiry

      • Ethnographic Research – like school culture.

      • Case Studies – e.g. school, class (study class independently)

Descriptive research
Descriptive Research

  • Descriptive research involves collecting numerical data to test hypotheses or answer questions regarding the subjects of the study

  • The data are collected through a questionnaire, an interview, or an observation

  • A researcher reports the numerical results for one or more variables on the subjects of the study.

  • Some examples:

    • How do primary school teachers spend their time on computer?

    • How do parents feel about increased computer use in the school?

Correlational research
Correlational Research

  • Correlational research attempts to determine whether and to what extent, a relationship exists between two or more numerical variables

  • This relationship can be used to predict the value of one variable for a subject if you know the other variable

  • Correlation implies prediction but not causation

  • A researcher uses the correlation coefficient to report the research

  • Some examples:

    • The relationship between intelligence and computer use.

    • The use of an aptitude test to predict computer use in a science class.

Causal comparative research
Causal-comparative Research

  • Attempts to establish cause-effect relationships among the variables of the study, that is, that values of an independent variable have a significant effect on a dependent variable

  • In causal-comparative research the independent variable is not under the experimenters control but has to take values of an independent variable as they come

  • Some examples:

    • The effect of computer use on information literacy at the end of the first grade.

    • The effect of gender on science achievement through use of technology.

Experimental research
Experimental Research

  • Similar to causal-comparative research but the independent variable is under control of a researcher

  • Some examples:

    • The comparative effectiveness of computer-based tutorials versus learner-centered e-learning activities on thinking skill

    • The effect of positive reinforcement on attitude toward ICT

Historical research
Historical Research

  • Historical research is involved with the study of past events.

  • Collection and objective evaluation of data related to past events in order to test hypotheses that may help to explain present events and anticipate future events

  • Some examples:

    • Factors leading to the development of computer literacy

    • Effects of decisions of the ICT Integration in Schools Initiative of EMB on Hong Kong Education

Naturalistic inquiry
Naturalistic Inquiry

  • Naturalistic inquiry includes ethnographic research and case studies to study of current events

  • It involves the collection of extensive narrative data on many variables over an extended period of time in a naturalistic setting.

  • Some examples:

    • A case study of parental involvement at an ESF school – find a real case to study.

    • A multi-case study of students who excel despite computer illiteracy – find few of students with good grade but not good for computer literacy.

    • A teacher as designer of on-line learning

For information
For Information

  • Some additional research approaches are:

    • Meta-research -- synthesizes previous research (usually in quantitative way)

    • Design Experiment -- new approach to research that emerged in education technology community

Let s see what we understand
Let’s See What we Understand

  • Work in pairs. Go through list of M Sc/B Ed research abstracts at

  • Classify come of the topics from these abstracts into the six research approaches. Identify at least one topic for an approach

  • Present the outcome to the class supporting your classification

Group task
Group Task

  • Setup your groups blog

    • You can setup a blog for free at:

      • http://


      • Or other blog of your choice

    • In the first post the team should introduce each member (preferably provide photos)

  • First task:

    • Discuss in your group and identify one research topic which you think it would be good idea to explore.

    • Develop research question and classify it in one of the research types

    • Present the outcome in your blog.

Reading for next week
Reading for next week

  • Read this article in preparation for next week. Try to integrate elements of this article into your group activity.

    • Lim, C.P. , & Hung, D. (2003). An activity theory approach to research of ICT integration in Singapore schools. Computers & Education, 41(2003), 49-63.


  • Ravid, R. (2000). Practical statistics for educators. (2nd ed). New York, NY.: University Press of America, Inc.