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The Nature of Research

McGraw-Hill © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.


The Nature of Research

McGraw-Hill © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.


What is Educational Research?

 The ability to answer a question or concern facing


many of us in the area of Education.
 Teachers, counselors, administrators, parents, and
students continually need to seek information in
order to perform their jobs.

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How Does One Obtain Information?

 People do the following to obtain information:


 Consult experts

 Review books and articles

 Question/observe colleagues

 Rely on past experience

 Use intuition

 Using scientific research provides another way to


obtain information
 Information is reliable and accurate
 Allows an understanding of why research is valuable

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Ways of Knowing That Things Exist

 Sensory Experience
 Agreement/Sharing with Others
 Expert Opinion
 Logical Reasoning
 The Scientific Method

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Ways of Knowing (Figure 1.1)

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The Scientific Method
 Testing ideas in the public arena by formulating a
hypothesis (a tentative, testable assertion about
certain behaviors, phenomena, or events) within a
rigorous format.
 Must be reproducible and described in sufficient
detail through 5 distinct steps:
 State the problem
 Define the purpose of the study
 How to gather the information
 How to organize and analyze the information obtained
 How the information is interpreted

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The Chaos Theory
 A major principle from the 1970s that
emphasizes the rarity of general laws, and
states that if the data base is large enough,
repeated patterns can be discovered and
used, even when the conditions are “chaotic”.
 Even with highly complex data, predictability
exists if patterns can be found across time.

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Types of Research
 Research is the formal, systematic application of scholarship,
disciplined inquiry, and most often the Scientific Method to the study
of problems.
 Research methodologies include:

Experimental research Ethnographic research


Correlational research Historical research
Causal-comparative research Action research
Survey research

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Experimental Research
 Most conclusive of all scientific methods.
 The researcher establishes treatments and
studies the effects, which can lead to clear
interpretations.
 The independent variable: What is being tested
 The dependent variable: What is the outcome (i.e.,
score)
 Single Subject Research is another form of
Experimental Research.

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Example of Experimental Research Results (Figure 1.2)

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Correlational Research
 Examines a relationship among two or more
variables; looks for a cause and effect.
 Can help make more intelligent predictions.
 This approach requires no manipulation or
intervention, except to administer the
instrument.
 Used when you want to look for and describe
relationships that may exist naturally.

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Is this Assumption Correct? (Figure 1.3)

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Causal-Comparative Research
 Determines the cause for, or consequences of,
differences between groups of people.
 Interpretations are limited due to the fact that
the investigator can not say conclusively
whether a particular factor is a cause for or a
result of a behavior.
 Differences may occur, but the investigator will
not be able to say for sure what caused the
difference.

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Survey Research
 Obtains data to determine specific
characteristics of a group.
 Variety of survey techniques exist, such as:
 Descriptive: asks same set of questions (i.e., interview)
 Open-ended questions
 There are 3 difficulties involved with survey
research:
 Ensuring that questions are clear and not misleading
 Getting participants to answer questions honestly
 Getting enough questionnaires back so valid interpretations
can be made

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Ethnographic Research
 A form of Qualitative Research
 Emphasizes documenting or portraying the
everyday experiences of individuals by observing
and interviewing them in a naturalistic setting.
 Data can include descriptions, audiotapes, video
footage, flowcharts showing relationships, etc.

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Historical Research
 Another form of Qualitative Research.
 Some aspect of the past is studied.
 Data is collected and evaluated objectively in
order to establish whether causes, effects, or
trends of a past event may explain present or
future events or occurrences.
 The major problem with this research is the
question of using an event or time sequence as
a true outcome.

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Action Research
 Differs from previously discussed
methods in two ways:
1) Generalizations to other persons, settings,
or situations is of minimal importance
 researchers focus on getting information that will
enable them to change conditions in a particular
situation (i.e., identifying methods to improve
special ed services at a school)
2) Subjects become active members of the
research process by collecting data, etc.

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Critical Analysis of Research
 Critics raise philosophical, linguistic,
ethical, and political concerns such as:
 Question of Reality
 Question of Communication
 Question of Values
 Question of Unstated Assumptions
 Anything taken for granted before being tested
 Question of Societal Consequences

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The Research Process

 The schematic components of research


are as follows:
 Statement of the problem: description of the
background and rationale for performing the
study
 Hypothesis: prediction of what is expected to
occur, or relationship expected between the
variables (factors being considered)
 Definitions: key terms in the problem
statement

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The Research Process
(cont.)

 Review of Literature: past or current studies


that are relevant to the study
 Sample: subjects of the study
 Instrumentation: what will be used to
measure or collect data
 Procedures: step-by-step directions, outlining
what will occur from beginning to end
 Data Analysis: statistical procedure to analyze
and explain the data

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The Research Process (Figure 1.4)

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