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Research Defined
Research Methodology: An Overview
Doing Quantitative Research
Constructs & Variables
Theory and Review of Literature
What is research?
Research is a scientific or systematic process
of steps used to gather and analyze information
to increase our understanding of a phenomenon
(topic or issue)
Examples of phenomena:
What is the motivation level of my students in
learning English?
Can cooperative learning improve the
students’ performance in Mathematics?

(Positivist Approach)
(Phenomenological Approach)



Study Action
Experimental Research
Quasi- Ethnography

Correlational Experimental
Generic Qualitative method
Preliminary Understanding of Quantitative &
Qualitative Research

Examine the two research studies on “Reasons for

discipline problems in school” and decide which is
quantitative and which is qualitative. Justify your answers.
Researcher A identifies Researcher B interviews a
factors that influence/ sample of problem students
affect discipline, individually or as a small
develop a questionnaire group. He interacts with
and administer it to a them and observes their
sample of problem behaviours. He also
students. He then examines counsellors’
analyses the data and reports and school report
identify significant cards. He records all the
factors or rank the information obtained and
factors in order of analyses it for patterns that
dominance. emerge.
Quantitative Research Qualitative Research
Philosophy Positivism: Phenomenology
Knowledge can only come from positive Knowledge is discovered through an open,
affirmation of theories through strict unbiased description of experience
scientific method
Purpose/ To study relationship, cause and effect To study social phenomena or things as they
Goal To test hypotheses & to make predictions appear in our experience.
To explain, interpret and describe phenomena
Focus Quantity (Variables - How much & How Quality (Features- What)
Design Structured, predetermined Flexible, emerging
(Developed prior to study) (Evolves during study)
Method Experiment, quasi-experimental, survey, etc Ethnography, case study, etc

Sample Large, random, representation Small, purposeful

Data Tests, questionnaires, controlled Interviews, observation, documents, artifacts
Collection intervention
Analysis Statistical methods Narrative/descriptive and interpretation by
Findings Specific, precise & numerical Holistic, detailed & descriptive

Researcher Detached Immersed

4. Confirm or revise 4. Formulate and
theory based on the generate theory based on
hypotheses rich descriptive data
tested/answers to
research questions
3. Conduct the study to 3. Formulate tentative
collect data hypotheses & gather further

2. Design an empirical study 2. Look for patterns in the forms

to test hypotheses/answer of themes, categories that
research questions emerge.

1. Formulate research questions 1. Conduct observation

and/or hypotheses based on (Participant/non-participant)
available theory/theories
Doing Quantitative Research:
The Research Process

(1) Generating research ideas

(2) Formulating the research problem
(3) Developing hypotheses/research questions
(4) Designing a study to test hypotheses/answer
research questions
(5) Collecting data
(6) Analysing and interpreting data
(7) Communicating results
Doing Quantitative Research
Gap-filling Research
- To solve a knowledge-deficiency problem
(gap in literature)

Problem-solving Research
- To solve an ecological problem
(problems in research setting)

Problem-solving & Gap-filling Research

- To solve an ecological problem as well as a
knowledge-deficiency problem
Gap-filling Research:
(Generating Research Ideas)
Identify a general research area of interest
Read extensively to identify the GAP to
establish the research problem (RP)
Questions need to be asked:
 What has been researched?
 What has not been researched?
 What needs to be further researched? Why?

Gap-filling research will ultimately lead to Problem-Solving as a

contribution ( Significance of the Study)
Problem-Solving Research:
(Generating Research Ideas)
Conceptualise and contextualise an ecological
Read extensively to find solutions to the
problem in order to establish the research
problem (RP)
Questions need to be asked:
 What has been researched ?
 Can the ecological problem be solved with currently
available research findings?
 If not, why? What needs to be researched?
Generating Research Ideas
(Finding a research problem)

Identify a broad problem in your area

Conduct a systematic programme of reading
Relate your research problem to a theory/theories
Reading Theories
Instruction Comprehension of visual
Performance learning
problems Reading Schema
Reading Activity theory
Reading Reading
strategies Reading
materials models

Reading Information
programme Reading processing
assessment theory
Generating Comprehension Performance
research Reading Material
ideas Reading Activity


Research Effects of illustration on the reading
Problem comprehension of expository text by ESL Learners
(2) Formulating the Research Problem
(Writing the statement of the problem)
Research Problem Statement:

describes what the research is about and its aims

focuses on the variables involved and the direction
of the research
can be stated in declarative or question form

Declarative form:
The effects of illustration as a prereading activity on the reading
comprehension performance of expository text among Year 4 pupils

Question Form
How does illustration as a prereading activity affect the reading
comprehension performance of expository text among Year 4 pupils?
A good problem statement should
 express a relation between two or more variables,
e.g. illustration, reading ability, content familiarity
and reading comprehension

 be stated clearly and unambiguously

Example of unclear and ambiguous:
The effects of reading materials on reading

 imply possibilities of empirical testing

Can the variables be measured and the relationship
Class Discussion
Can you make the following statements clearer and
unambiguous so that they can be used as research
problem statements?

The Use of Computer Technology in schools

The leadership style of school principals
The methods of teaching science in primary school

The effects of using courseware X on Mathematics achievement of form

4 students
The leadership style of school principals and its relationship with the job
satisfaction of secondary school teachers
The effects of the discovery learning approach on the science
achievement of Year-6 pupils.
(3) Developing Hypotheses/Research
The research problem is broken down into subproblems
to be expressed in hypotheses or research questions
Examples of research question:
•Is there any significant difference in the reading comprehension
performance of Year 4 pupils when they read expository text with
and without illustration? (Analysis focused research Question)
• Does illustration have any affect on the reading comprehension
performance of Year 4 pupils when they read expository text?
(Finding focused research question)
Examples of Hypotheses

There is no difference in the reading

comprehension performance of Year 4
pupils when they read expository text with
and without illustration?

The decision on which methodology (esp. research
design and method of data collection & analyses) to use
depends the research problem & research
(4) Collecting Data

Develop Instruments

 Reading comprehension text

 Illustrations
 Comprehension test - comprehension

Administer instruments to a sample of

Year 4 pupils
(5) Analysing & interpreting Data

Quantitative Data Analyses

 Descriptive Statistics
 Inferential Statistics

 Communicating Results
 Thesis/Dissertation/Project
 Conferences/seminars
 Publications in Journals/Books
Characteristics of Research

Research begins with a problem

Research requires a plan
Research demands a clear problem statement
Research deals with the main problem through
subproblems operationalised as research
Research seeks direction through research
Research deals with facts and their meaning
Constructs are theoretical concepts that are used
to describe specific attributes.
e.g. intelligence, motivation, self-esteem, reading
comprehension performance, etc.

In research, a construct is loosely referred to as a

variable (i.e. something that varies) because it
can take on different numerical values or
classification labels.
e.g. intelligence (IQ 50 -150),reading
comprehension performance (Score 1 – 100),
gender (Male; Female), SES (Low, Middle, High),
(A) Variables In Quantitative Research
Independent Variable
- Can be manipulated
e.g. Illustration (With & Without)

Dependent Variable
- Cannot be manipulated
e.g. Reading comprehension performance
Class Discussion
Can you identify the independent and
dependent variables in the following
You are interested to find out if students
who are exposed to project-based method
(PBM) would perform better in science
than those who are taught using the
traditional lecture method (TLM). Besides,
you want to know if it would benefit high
achiever more or low achiever more
Independent Variables Dependent Variables




2 x 2 Factorial Design



(B) Variables In Quantitative Research
Continuous Variable
- capable of taking on an ordered set of values
within a certain range (1, 2, 3….20…)
e,g. temperature, height, weight, attitude
score, achievement score, etc
Categorical Variable
- measures of differences in type, not number
or amount, providing label classifications
e.g. race (Malay, Chinese, Indian, Others);
gender (M, F); SES (High, Middle, Low),
Proficiency level (Good, Poor)
Subject Reading Score (20) Type of Reader

1 5 Poor
2 7 Poor

3 6 Poor

4 8 Continuous Poor Categorical

5 13 Variable Good Variable

6 16 Good

7 19 Good

8 20 Good
Operational definition of variables
Variables used in a study must be operationally defined
as they are used in the context of the study. This is
especially important when they have different definitions
in different contexts or when you are using them in a way
different from the commonly held definitions. Clear
operational definition of variables will eliminate confusion.

Variables need to be operationally defined to facilitate

measurement. Not all variables are directly observable,
thus they cannot be measured directly. For instance, we
cannot observe and measure learning directly but we
can see its effect on performance. We can thus
operationally defined learning as an increase in
performance. So, if we give a test to students after a
learning process and their performance improves, we
can conclude that learning has occurred.
Constitutive Definition Vs Operational definition

Given below are two definitions on “reading

comprehension ability”

 The ability of pupils to read and interpret written or

printed material with understanding
 The performance of pupils in interpreting written or
printed material as expressed by numerical scores in
the reading comprehension test devised by the class

Which definition is more appropriate to be used in

Data Types
Nominal data
E.g. % of students who passed/failed a test
Ordinal data
E.g. Ranking scores
Interval data
E.g. Attitude scores, IQ
Ratio Data
E.g. Test scores
Theory & Review of Literature

a statement or set of statements that explain and
predict phenomena.
a statement that indicates the relationship
between two or more events

Ausubel’s Meaningful Learning Theory

Meaningful Learning takes place when a learner
integrate new information with old information

What does Ausubel.s Theory predict?

What variables does the theory try to relate?

Theory provides an important guide or focus for the

direction of research by pointing to areas in which
meaningful relationships of events (variables) are likely
to be found.

Theory provides a rational basis for explaining or

interpreting the results of the research.

Theory enables the researcher to make predictions

about a wide range of situations
Review of Literature
An in-depth account of key works and information
available on a research topic

Aspects normally covered:

How are the studies related to
 specific areas investigated your research?
 theories & approaches used What has been researched &
 samples involved what needs further research?
 variables examined
 analyses used What insights have you
 findings obtained obtained about the area to be
studied (e.g. approaches,
Sources: methodologies. analyses and
interpretation of findings) and
research articles (e.g. Journals) the trends that have emerged?
& academic writings (e.g. books)

To gain insights into the theories, approaches and

methodologies adopted by different researchers. This
will provide sound theoretical and methodological
frameworks for the intended study.
To identify gaps in the literature so that the intended
study can focus on a research area that is significant and
that has not been explored adequately. This will ensure
that the research done will contribute towards knowledge
and/or theory development.
To help researchers to delimit the research problem and
define it clearly so that it has the right focus. Delimiting
the research problem can only be achieved if the
researcher reads extensively and intensively available
literature about the problem to be investigated.
To ensure that research to be done is on the right track
in line with the current trends. Such information can be
obtained from the section, Recommendations for further
research, that is found in every research study. These
recommendations are useful because they represent the
insights of the researcher after he/she has studied the
To provide the intellectual context for the research to be
done, enabling the researcher to position his/her work
relative to other work. This is possible because the
review will show what has been done in the field and
how the new study relates to earlier research.
Sources of Literature Review
Secondary Sources
Materials written based on the works of others (e.g.
reference books, text books, published academic
writings, etc)

Primary Sources
Materials written by someone who actually conducted
the investigation – 1st hand information. (e.g. research
articles published in journals.)

Note: Research articles also contain information from secondary

sources when the writers quote the works of other people
Common weaknesses in Lit. Review

Mere presentation of research information without

relating it to the intended study
*Mere presentation of research information without any
critical evaluation
Mere listing of past studies in isolation without making
any connection among them – differences & similarities
Heavy reliance on secondary sources and/or outdated
Poor citations (Refer to APA)

* Note: Refer to the module for the guidelines