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  1. 1. Research Questions and Problem Statements EDUU564 Carla Piper, Ed. D.
  2. 2. General Research Problem <ul><li>Does the problem statement imply the possibility of empirical investigation? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the problem statement restrict the scope of the study? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the problem statement give the educational context in which the problem lies? </li></ul>McMillan & Schumacher, 2006
  3. 3. Qualitative Problem Formation <ul><li>Select a General Topic </li></ul><ul><li>Select a Mode of Inquiry </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactive or Noninteractive </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Topic and Methodology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interrelated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Selected almost simultaneously </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Narrow topic to a more definitive topic </li></ul><ul><li>Research interests come from: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal experience and interest in topic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have physical and/or psychological access to present or past social settings. </li></ul></ul>McMillan & Schumacher, 2006
  4. 4. Problem Formation <ul><li>I would like to improve the… »  </li></ul><ul><li>I am perplexed by… »  </li></ul><ul><li>What can I do to change situation ”X”? »  </li></ul><ul><li>… Is a source of irritation, What can I do? »  </li></ul><ul><li>I have an idea I would like to try out in class. »  </li></ul><ul><li>How can experience “X” be applied to…? </li></ul>From - http ://
  5. 5. Foreshadowed Probelm <ul><li>Anticipated prior to study </li></ul><ul><li>Derived from researcher’s experience during study </li></ul><ul><li>Stated as broad, general questions </li></ul><ul><li>What? How? Why? </li></ul><ul><li>Reformulated and adjusted throughout study </li></ul>Foreshadowed McMillan & Schumacher, 2006
  6. 6. What Would You Like to Know? <ul><li>Tap your resources - your daily work  </li></ul><ul><li>Turn tensions into a research question it can be the best mental stress reducer at a teacher’s disposal. </li></ul><ul><li>Look for good questions in the unexpected </li></ul><ul><li>List questions about the area of interest you discovered. </li></ul><ul><li>Examine your list of generated questions. </li></ul>From - http ://
  7. 7. Discovering the Questions <ul><li>Force yourself to write a succinct what or how question. </li></ul><ul><li>Practice tunneling in your question. (the process of anticipating the kinds of data you will need in order to answer the question) </li></ul><ul><li>Remain open to possibility </li></ul><ul><li>Remember, in the beginning, questions are not neat and tidy - they evolve and become more refined as you focused your attention on a particular issue. </li></ul>From - http ://
  8. 8. Inductive Logic Synthesized Abstractions Narrative Descriptions Field Records A Case LOGICAL REASONING LOGICAL ANALYSIS Generate Generalizations and Explanations List themes, Assertions, Propositions Detailed Narrations of People, Incidences, Processes Specific “Case” or Situation Examined Through Field Records Obtained over Time McMillan & Schumacher, 2006
  9. 9. Inductive Logic Defined Present Explain, Assert Discover and Describe Explore and Examine Case LOGICAL REASONING LOGICAL ANALYSIS Generate Generalizations and Explanations List themes, Assertions, Propositions Rich, thick, details Discovery Oriented Classroom Observations, In-Depth Interviews, Historical Documents McMillan & Schumacher, 2006
  10. 10. Inductive Logic Example Interpretations Conclusions Students Words Case Study Literacy Students LOGICAL REASONING LOGICAL ANALYSIS Code Themes - Student Perceptions Pros and Cons of Electronic Portfolios Interviews, Portfolio Reflections, Artifacts, Observations, Opinions Case Study of 10 Students Creating Electronic Portfolios McMillan & Schumacher, 2006
  11. 11. Problem Reformulation <ul><li>After researcher has begun to collect data </li></ul><ul><li>Emergent Design </li></ul><ul><li>Changing Data Collection Strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Study in greater depth as data emerge </li></ul><ul><li>Evolves throughout study </li></ul>McMillan & Schumacher, 2006
  12. 12. Qualitative Questions <ul><li>Do the research questions indicate the particular case of some phenomena to be examined? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the methodology appropriate for the description of present and past events? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the inductive logic reasonably explicit? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the research purpose indicate the framework for reporting the findings? </li></ul>McMillan & Schumacher, 2006
  13. 13. Question Characteristics <ul><li>The focus of the study should be your students - not yourself. </li></ul><ul><li>It should also focus on student achievement in the critical content areas </li></ul><ul><li>Be within your sphere of influence </li></ul><ul><li>Something that you are passionate about </li></ul><ul><li>Something that you would like to change </li></ul><ul><li>Aligned with your instructional goals. </li></ul>From - http ://
  14. 14. Refining Questions <ul><li>Ask only real questions. Don’t do research to confirm a teaching practice that you already believe is good or bad.  Ask questions whose answers you are not sure about. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid asking yes/no questions </li></ul><ul><li>Eliminate jargon </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid value-laden words and phases. </li></ul>From - http ://
  15. 15. Question Checklist <ul><li>Is your question important to you and something you often think about? </li></ul><ul><li>Does your question focus on you & your role, your students, your practice and not a specific packaged program? </li></ul><ul><li>Will studying this question have some immediate practical benefits for you and/or your students? </li></ul><ul><li>What are your values, beliefs and biases about your question? </li></ul><ul><li>Are you genuinely curious about this question and willing to make changes in your practice? </li></ul>From - http ://
  16. 16. Exemplary Action Research Questions <ul><li>Significant </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Teaching and learning practices that could lead to improved student learning and performance?  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What focus question would have the greatest benefit for all our students? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Manageable </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The question is neither so broad as to be impossible to answer, nor is it so narrow that it cannot offer much insight. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Contextual </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The question is embedded in the day-to-day work rather than an extra project added on to existing teaching tasks. </li></ul></ul>From - http ://
  17. 17. Exemplary Action Research Questions <ul><li>Clearly Stated </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The question accurately conveys the focus and scope of the research. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Open-Ended  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A focus question phrased to include a broad range of insights or understandings rather than to prove a specific point or to compare experimental and control groups. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Self-Reflective  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A question that focuses on the action or practice of the researcher </li></ul></ul>From - http ://