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Introduction to Educational Research

Week 1

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Discussion Topics

Ways of knowing Educational research as scientific inquiry Types of research designs


Quantitative Qualitative Analytical Mixed methods

Functions of research Ethics of educational research Research report formats


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Ways of knowing

All of us frequently make decisions related to our professional lives

Some decisions are very, very important, others quite trivial Some decisions are made in very formal, deliberate manners, others quite capriciously

Where do we turn for such knowledge?

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Ways of knowing

What is the likely basis upon which each of the following questions could be answered?

What is the best way to relax, today? What are we going to do for the holidays this year? What are the legal implications of the new attendance policy?

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Ways of knowing

Three legitimate ways for making decisions of this nature

Personal experience Tradition Authority


Idiosyncratic Informal Subjective in nature

Characteristics of these ways


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Ways of knowing

What is the likely basis upon which each of the following questions could be answered?

Will students benefit by being held back in the second grade next year if they do not yet learn to read? How many students should be scheduled into Ms. Salmas third grade class? Does block scheduling have an effect upon students achievement?

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Ways of knowing

Research is the most legitimate way of finding answers to questions of this nature

Research is a systematic process that is guided by accepted procedures to establish credibility Data collection Data analysis Interpretation The systematic, testable, and objective nature of research permits careful examination of the process and results

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Ways of knowing

Describe some of the more important decisions youve made recently in your work with other students, lecturer, or other university staffs. On what basis did you rely to make these decisions?
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Research as Scientific Inquiry

Scientific inquiry is the search for knowledge using recognized methods in data collection, analysis, and interpretation The purpose of scientific inquiry is to

Describe phenomena Develop knowledge Examine empirical relationships between or among phenomena Test whether such relationships are causal in nature

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Research as Scientific Inquiry

Knowledge is typically presented in the form of theories

A theory is a set of propositions that explain the relationships among phenomena A theory is a means of simplifying and understanding complex realities

Examples of learning theories

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Brief Definition of Research

A carefully prescribed process of collecting and analyzing data with the intent of producing findings and drawing conclusions that are valid.

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Educational Research

No single, appropriate methodological approach to study education Two major approaches


Quantitative Qualitative

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Educational Research

Differentiating characteristics

Goals Quantitative: tests theory, establishes facts, shows relationships, predicts, or statistically describes Qualitative: develops grounded theory, develops understanding, describes multiple realities, captures naturally occurring behavior Research design Quantitative: highly structured, formal, and specific Qualitative: unstructured, flexible, evolving

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Educational Research

Differentiating characteristics

Participants Quantitative: many participants representative of the groups from which they were chosen using probabilistic sampling techniques Qualitative: few participants chosen using non-probabilistic sampling techniques for specific characteristics of interest to the researchers Data, data collection, and data analysis Quantitative: numerical data collected at specific times from tests or surveys and analyzed statistically Qualitative: narrative data collected over a long period of time from observations and interviews and analyzed using interpretive techniques
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Educational Research

Differentiating characteristics

Researchers role Quantitative: detached, objective observers of events Qualitative: participant observers reporting participants perspectives understood only after developing long-term, close, trusting relationships with participants Context Quantitative: manipulated and controlled settings Qualitative: naturalistic settings

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Types of Research Designs


Research Designs

Quantitative

Qualitative

Analytical Study

Mixed Method

Case Study
Non-Experimental Experimental Phenomenaology

Concept Analysis
Historical Analysis

Descriptive
Comparative

True
Quasi

Ethnography

Grounded Theory

Correlational Causal Comparative

Single Subject

Copyright Allyn & Bacon 2008

Quantitative Designs

Two major categories

Experimental

The investigation of causal effects through direct manipulation of an independent variable and control of extraneous variables The investigation of the current state of a variable or the relationships, other than causal, between variables

Non-experimental

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Quantitative Designs

An example of an experimental design Randomly assign students to one of two classrooms in which the same social studies unit is being taught. Teach the first class using the traditional lecture approach, the second class using cooperative learning groups. Examine the achievement differences between the two groups to see if the type of approach to instruction had an effect. This study is characterized by the investigation of cause (instructional approach) and effect (achievement), manipulation (choice of instructional approach), and control (same unit being taught, random assignment, etc.)

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Quantitative Designs

Differentiating the three types of experimental designs

True experimental

Random assignment of subjects to groups


Non-random assignment of subjects to groups Non-random selection of a single subject

Quasi-experimental

Single subject

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Quantitative Designs

Examples of non-experimental designs

Approximately 10% of Louisianas public school students do not finish high school. The GPA of students participating in extra-curricular activities is higher than that of student who do not participate Student attitude is moderately related to achievement Several factors are related to the high dropout rate in Louisiana. These include the students age, academic record, repetition of grade(s), gender, and ethnicity.

These studies are characterized by descriptions (dropout rate, GPA differences, opinions) or relationships (attitudes and achievement, factors related to dropping out)

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Quantitative Designs

Differentiating the four types of non-experimental designs Descriptive

Makes careful descriptions of the current situation or status of a variable(s) of interest

Comparative

Compares two or more groups on some variable of interest


Establishes a relationship (i.e., non-causal) between or among variables Explores possible causes and effects among variables that cannot be manipulated by the researcher.

Correlational

Ex-post-facto

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Qualitative Designs

Much less precision in the definitions of and distinctions between qualitative designs in comparison to quantitative designs Four major categories of designs

Case study Phenomenology Ethnography Grounded theory

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Qualitative Designs

Case Study

An examination of a specific instance of a phenomena in its natural context viewed from the perspective of the participants

This study explored the meaning of inclusion for three disabled students who had been placed in a regular education setting. This study examines in-depth a phenomena of interest to the researcher (i.e., the meaning of inclusion) in a natural context viewing it from the participants perspectives
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Qualitative Designs

Phenomenology

A description of the meaning of an experience

The purpose of this study was to examine the meaning of being left out for an adolescent This study examines in-depth the experiences of being left out from the perspectives of the adolescent experiencing this phenomena

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Qualitative Designs

Ethnography

A description of the beliefs and practices of a cultural or social group or system The purpose of this study was to identify and describe the conflicts that experienced second-grade teachers encountered as they switched from a traditional approach to teaching mathematics to a constructivistsociological approach This study examines the beliefs and practices of second grade teachers experiencing a common phenomenon related to their approach to teaching
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Qualitative Designs

Grounded theory

A description of a conceptual understanding of a particular phenomenon The purpose of this study was to understand the relationship of the bar to the teachers who frequented it on Friday evenings. We found that teachers used the bar to facilitate their movement from professional to personal self. This study examined a phenomena of interest to the researcher (i.e., teachers congregating at a particular bar on Friday evenings) and developed a conceptual understanding of it.

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Analytical Designs

Descriptions of historical, legal, or policy issues through an analysis of documents, oral histories, and relics Two basic approaches

Concept analysis the study of educational concepts (e.g., co-operative learning, leadership, etc.) to describe the different meanings and the uses of the concept Historical analysis the systematic collection and criticism of documents that describe past events of relevance to education
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Analytical Designs

An example of a concept analysis

The purpose of this study is to examine the meanings and uses of the term standardsbased curriculum. This study examined the varied meanings, interpretations, and uses of an important curricular concept.

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Analytical Designs
An example of an historical analysis

The purpose of this study is to examine the changes in standardized testing over the last 40 years. This study addresses the historical developments characterizing the use of standardized tests over a 40 year period.

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Mixed Method Designs


The use of quantitative and qualitative designs and methods within a single study Allows the researcher to better match the approach to gathering and analyzing data to the research questions Relative emphasis given to any particular method varies widely

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Action Research Design


Systematic investigation Emphasis on teachers, counselors, and administrators Brings together characteristics of systematic inquiry and practice

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Four Functions of Research

Basic: research designed to test or refine theory Applied: research conducted in a field of common practice and concerned with the application and development of research based knowledge

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Four Functions of Research

Action: research designed to solve a specific classroom or school problem, improve practice, or make a decision at a single local site Evaluation: research designed to assess the merit and worth or a specific practice in terms of the values operating at a site

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Ethics of Educational Research

Ethical considerations are an important part of research. Researchers must be aware of and attend to ethical considerations. Two main overarching ethical rules guide researchers.

Participants should not be harmed. Researchers obtain participants informed consent.

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Ethics of Educational Research

Most societies for behavioral researchers have similar codes for ethical research largely due to the National Research Act of 1974 which Created a code for the protection of human subjects.

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Ethics of Educational Research

Most institutions have review groups that assure participant protections.

IRB (Institutional Review Board) or HSRC (Human Subjects Review Committee)

Researchers must submit their proposal for review and approval.

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Ethics of Educational Research

Informed consent and protection from harm

Research participants must not be harmed in any way Physically, mentally, socially Research participants freely agree to participate Informed consent: Researchers provide information about the study and any potential dangers

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Ethics of Educational Research

Researchers ensure freedom from harm

No undue risks Personal privacy and confidentiality Limit access of data to those who need to know Participants involvement should not be reported

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Ethics of Educational Research

Anonymity

Study participants have complete anonymity when their identities are unknown to the researcher.

Confidentiality

Study participants are known to researcher but are not disclosed.

e.g., removing names from data

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Ethics of Educational Research


The Buckley Amendment (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974)

Data that identifies a student is not available without written permission Must describe what data, for what purposes, and to whom

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Ethics of Educational Research

Deception poses an ethical dilemma. If the participants know the purpose of a study, it may change their behavior.

e.g., gender, race, attitudes, medical status

When a study must use deception it causes problems for informed consent. These types of studies must undergo strict ethical review.

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Ethics of Qualitative Research

In addition to ethics of educational research generally, qualitative research often poses additional ethical challenges.

The nature of the research changes so informed consent is challenging. The close relationship between the researcher and the participant may allow the researcher to know personal and perhaps ill-acts of the participant that may pose ethical challenges.

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Ethical Guideposts

A researcher should have an ethical perspective with regard to the research that is very close to her personal ethical position. Informed consent should be obtained through a dialogue between the researcher and the participants.

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Ethical Guideposts

Be cognizant of the broader social principles that define your ethical stance. Potential results do not drive ethical standards. Minimize the potential for harm to your participants. Attend to confidentiality and omit deception.

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Gaining Entry to the Research Site

Researchers need cooperation to conduct their studies.

Identify and follow procedures for gaining approval at any given site. e.g., superintendent or school board Procedures generally require filling out forms that describe the study. Researchers may need permission from principals or teachers. Written permission from parents is often required.

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Gaining Entry to the Research Site

Gaining entry and obtaining permission often takes considerable time. Schools and other research communities may request something in return for their participation in your study.

e.g., a final report prior to dissemination, professional development, parent education

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Educational Report Formats


Title and author Abstract Introduction


Quantitative: specific research questions Qualitative: general problem statement Quantitative: extensive Qualitative: brief

Review of the literature


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Educational Report Formats

Research problem statement or questions

Quantitative: specific, narrow questions and hypotheses Qualitative: general, foreshadowed questions Quantitative: participants, instruments, and procedures Qualitative: participants and settings/sites

Method and design


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Educational Report Formats

Results

Quantitative: statistical explanations Qualitative: narrative descriptions

Discussion Conclusions References

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