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Chapter 3 - Problem Statement Formulation
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Chapter 3 - Problem Statement Formulation


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  • 1. Chapter 3 Research Problems: Statements, Questions, and HypothesesThis multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. Thefollowing are prohibited by law:• Any public performance or display, including transmission of any image over anetwork;• Preparation of any derivative work, including the extraction, in whole or in part, of anyimages;• Any rental, lease, or lending of the program. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006
  • 2. Importance of Research Problems Formulates a clear, concise, and manageable research problem Communicates to others  Focus and importance of problem  Educational context and scope  Framework for reporting results Indicates evidence-based inquiry Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 2
  • 3. Sources of Problems Casual observation  Relationship between cognition and affect  Relative effectiveness of positive or negative reinforcement Deductions from theory  Effectiveness of using math manipulatives  Relationship between instructional style and learning style Related literature  Study of dropouts in your locale  Use of math manipulatives in secondary schools Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 3
  • 4. Sources of Problems Current social and political issues  Gender and race equity  Inclusion Practical situations  Evaluations of specific programs  Effectiveness of local initiatives Personal experience and insight  Teaching statistical courses from an applied perspective  Effectiveness of non-threatening classroom assessments Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 4
  • 5. Formal Problem Statements Purpose  Introduces reader to importance of problem  Places problem in an educational context  Provides framework for reporting results— findings and conclusions Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 5
  • 6. Problem Formulation inQuantitative Research Is phrased as statements, questions or hypotheses Provides identification of population, variables, and logic of problem Presents logic of constructs, variables, and operational definitions Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 6
  • 7. Construct Complex abstraction not directly observable  e.g., motivation, meta-cognition, self- concept, aptitude, etc.  Derived from theory  Expresses idea behind a set of particulars  Can combine several variables into meaningful patterns Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 7
  • 8. Variable An event, category, behavior or attribute Composed of attributes of levels that express a construct Each variable a separate and distinct phenomenon Two types based on what is measured  Categorical variables—groups variable into attributes (categories)  Continuous measured variable—can assume an infinite number of values within a range Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 8
  • 9. Research Variable Types In experimental research  Independent—comes first—influences or predicts  Also called manipulated or experimental variable  Antecedent  Dependent—comes second—if affected or predicted by independent variable  Consequence Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 9
  • 10. Research Variable Types In non-experimental research  Independent variable cannot be manipulated  In correlational studies  Antecedent called predictor variable  Dependent variable called criterion  Not always possible to tell which comes first  When prediction not goal, but rather to see if there is a relationship between variable Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 10
  • 11. Operational Definition forVariable Assigns meaning to a variable by specifying activities or operations necessary to measure, categorize, or manipulate variable Tells researcher what is necessary to answer question or test hypothesis Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 11
  • 12. Problem Formulation inQuantitative Research Identify population, variables and logic of problem Specific research questions and hypotheses Questions—simple and direct  Descriptive—typically asks “what is” and implies a survey research design  e.g., What is current dropout rate in Louisiana?  Relationship—implies a correlational design  e.g., What is relationship between math attitude and math achievement?  Difference—implies a comparison  e.g., Is there a difference in effectiveness of graded and non-graded homework? Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 12
  • 13. Research Hypotheses inQuantitative Research Statements  e.g., purpose of this research is to .... Questions  e.g., What is ...? Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 13
  • 14. Research Hypotheses inQuantitative Research Tentative statement of expected relationships between two or more variables  e.g., there is a significant, positive relationship between self-concept and math achievement States direction of relationship Should be testable, verifiable Should offer a tentative explanation based on theory or previous research Concise and lucid Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 14
  • 15. Problem Formulation inQualitative Research Is phrased as statements or questions, never as hypotheses  Broad statements: how, what and why Begins with selecting general topic and mode of inquiry  i.e., interactive and non-interactive Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 15
  • 16. Qualitative Field Records,Descriptions, and Abstractions Employs inductive reasoning Selects a particular case (rather than variables as in quantitative) for in-depth study  Case is a particular social situation chosen by researcher in which some phenomenon will be described by participants’ perceptions  Aim is to gain understanding of a broader phenomenon Qualitative field records  Participant observation field notes  Interview tapes  Researcher notes on historical documents Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 16
  • 17. Narrative Descriptions Detailed narrations of people, incidents, and processes Completed after data collection because of discover-orientation of research Called “rich” or “thick” Contains information on  People  Incidents  Participants’ language  Participants’ “meanings” Synthesized abstractions  Summary generalizations and explanations of major research findings of study Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 17
  • 18. Problem Reformulation Initial statement of a broad, general question  i.e., foreshadowed problem, phrased as “what,” how,” and “why” of situation Condensed problem statement identifying a specific focus Reformulation of problem during research—emergent design Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 18
  • 19. Statements of Qualitative ResearchPurposes and Questions Qualitative problem statements  Qualitative traditions of ethnography, phenomenology, case study, grounded theory, and critical study  Focus on current phenomena through interactive data collection Historical problem statements and questions  Analysis of documents and archives  Focus on understanding past Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 19
  • 20. Mixed Method ProblemFormulation Equal priority to all questions both quantitative and qualitative data collected about same time  Research questions and foreshadowed problems  Problems usually presented together  Findings from both kinds of data would be analyzed and interpreted together (triangulation) Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 20
  • 21. Mixed Method ProblemFormulation Measured results explained by qualitative data  Data collected sequentially  Quantitative phase provides general results explained with qualitative data  Explanatory design Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 21
  • 22. Mixed Method ProblemFormulation Qualitative questions, then quantitative questions  Used when there is little prior research on a topic or practice that is new  Qualitative methods used first to investigate scope of phenomenon  Quantitative methods investigate findings in a more structured way  Exploratory design Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 22
  • 23. Significance of Problem Selection Rationale for a study  Justifies why an evidence-based inquiry is important  Indicates researcher’s interest/choice Knowledge of an enduring practice Theory testing Generalizability Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 23
  • 24. Significance of Problem Selection Extensions of understanding Methodological advancement Current issues Evaluation of a specific practice or policy at a given site Exploratory research Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 24
  • 25. Standards of Adequacy forProblem Statements General research problem  Does statement of general research problem imply possibility of empirical investigation?  Does problem statement restrict scope of study?  Does problem statement give educational context in which problem lies? Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 25
  • 26. Significance of Problem Does problem contribute to one or more of following?  Develops knowledge of an enduring practice  Contributes to theory development  Expands current knowledge  Provides an extension of our understanding  Advances methodology  Related to a current social or political issue  Evaluates specific practice or policy at given site  Explores an issue about which little is known Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 26
  • 27. Specific Research Question orHypothesis Quantitative  Does specific research purpose, question, or hypothesis state concisely what is to be determined?  Does level of specificity indicate question or hypothesis researchable? Do variables seem amenable to operational definitions?  Is logic clear? Are variables identified?  Does research question or hypothesis indicate framework for reporting results Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 27
  • 28. Qualitative Do research questions, foreshadowed problems, or condensed problem statements indicate particular case of phenomena to be examined? Is qualitative methodology appropriate for description of present of past events? Is logic reasonably explicit? Does research purpose indicate framework for reporting findings? Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 28
  • 29. Mixed Methods Is relative emphasis of each method made explicit? Is order in which quantitative and qualitative data collected clear? Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 29
  • 30. Other Criteria Is problem one in which researcher has a vital interest and a topic in which researcher has both knowledge and experience? Are problem and design feasible in terms of measurement, access to case, sample, or population, permission to use documents, time frame for completion, financial resources, and like? Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 30
  • 31. Other Criteria Does researcher have skills to conduct proposed research and to analyze and interpret results? Does proposed research ensure protection of human subjects from physical or mental discomfort or harm?  Is right of informed consent of subjects provided?  Will ethical research practices be followed? Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2006 31