The Research Problem
Fundamental Issue in Research
What is a research problem?
This can be anything that anybody finds unsatisfactory or unsettling
Research problems involve areas of concern or conditions that might need improvement and difficulties that need to be eliminated
Usually a research problem is initially posed as a question
Approaches to answering the questions may involve various methodologies:
How can a principal improve faculty morale? (interview research)
How do parents feel about the school counselling program? (survey research)
Does client-centered therapy produces more satisfaction in clients than traditional therapy?(traditional experimental research)
Does behavior modification reduce aggression in autistic children? (single-subject experimental research)
Are the descriptions of people in social studies discussions biased? (grounded theory research)
What goes on in an elementary school classroom during an average week? (ethnographic research)
Do teachers behave differently towards students of different genders? (causal-comparative research)
How can we predict which students might have trouble learning certain types of subject matter? (correlational research)
Whatever the methods the researcher must collect data of some sort to answer his research problems to make them researchable
Unresearchable questions: examples are those that cannot have empirical or observable value
Example: Should philosophy be taught in high school? - there is no way to determine what should or what should not be done
The question could be rephrased as: Do people think that philosophy be taught in high school?
By doing so the problem becomes empirical and therefore researchable
Research questions that are metaphysical or transcendental are unresearchable
What is the meaning of life?; Does God exist?; Are children happier when taught by a teacher of the same gender?; What is the absolute best way to teach history?; What would schools be like today if WWII did not occur
Questions 1 is a metaphysical question
Questions 1, 4 and 5 are vague
The last question requires the creation of an impossible situation
Characteristics of good research questions
Research questions must be feasible
These can be investigated without expending an undue amount of time, energy or money
What would be the level of achievement if each student is given a laptop to use for a semester?- not feasible
How do students of Magsaysay High School feel about the new social studies textbook issued in the District? - feasible
The research questions must be clear
Most people would agree to what the key words in the question mean
Example: How do teachers feel about special classes for the educationally handicapped?
Issues raised: what age group is involved? What is the level of experience of the teachers? Are all teachers in the country involved? Does “feel” mean “opinion,” “emotional reactions,” What is the definition of educationally handicapped?
A definition of terms maybe necessary in clarifying terms
Define terms clearly and when feasible, operationally and constitutively
The question must be significant- it must be worth investigating
The researcher must be guided by these three cardinal rules:
How might answers to this research advance knowledge in my field?
How might answers to this research question improve educational practice?
How might answers to this research question improve human condition
This boils down to researcher’s personal and professional contribution and advancement
The question is ethical-
it will not involve physical or psychological harm to human beings or the social environment of which they are a part
Ethics in research
Ethics refers to questions regarding right and wrong
When researchers think about ethics they must ask themselves if it is right to conduct a certain study or to carry out certain procedures
Ethical behavior conforms to the standards of a given profession or group
Examples of unethical practices in research
A researcher requires a group of high school sophomores to sign a form in which they agree to participate in a research study
Asks first graders sensitive questions without the consent of their parents
Requires university students to fill out a questionnaire about their sexual practices
Deletes data he collects because these do not support his hypothesis
Involves a group of eight graders in a research study that may harm them psychologically
Possibility of harm to participants
Deception: we are required to ask you to sign this consent form. You need not read it because it is just routine
A few cases seemed quite different from the rest so we deleted them
As a student in this university you are required to participate in this study
There is no need to tell any of the parents that we are modifying the school lunch diet for this study
Requiring students to participate in class discussion might be harmful to some, but it is necessary for our research
The researcher must:
Ensure the confidentiality of his research data – once the data has been collected he must make sure that no one else save for a few research assistants has access to the data
All subjects have to be assured that any data collected shall be held in confidence
The names of individual subjects should never be used in any publication that describe the research
All participants shall have the right to withdraw from the study or request that the data collected will not be used
Subjects should not be deceived
The issue of deception is a troublesome matter
Whenever possible the researcher must conduct the research using methods that do not require deception
If alternative methods cannot be devised the researcher must determine whether the use of deception is justified by the prospective study’s scientific, educational or applied value
If the participants are deceived the researcher must ensure that they are provided with sufficient explanation as soon as possible.
Research with minors
An informed consent of parents or their legal guardians is required for participants defined as minors. Signers must be provided wiuth all the necessary information in appropriate language and must have an opportunity to refuse
Researchers do not present themselves as diagnosticians or counselors in reporting results to parents.
Children may never be coerced into participation in a study.
Any renumeration for the child’s services does not affect the application of these and other ethical principles.
The researcher must further do
Minimize risk to participants by using procedures that do not unnecessarily expose subjects to harm
Risks that may occur are reasonable in relation to the benefits that are anticipated.
Equitable selection – the proposed research does not discriminate among individuals in the population
Protection of vulnerable individuals – children, pregnant women, children, prisoners, mentally disabled or economically disadvantaged persons, etc.
Informed consent – researchers must provide complete information about all aspects of the proposed study that might be of interest or concern to a potential participant and this must be presented in a form that the participant can easily understand.
Participants have the right to withdraw from the study at anytime without penalty
Informed consent must be appropriately documented
Monitoring of the data being collected to ensure the safety of participants
Privacy and confidentiality – ensuring that any and all information obtained during a study is not released to outside individuals where it might have embarrassing or damaging consequences.
Detect problems and improve:
Is education during the American period better than toda y?
How to the students fell about the new HEKASI and MAKABABYAN curriculum?
Teachers are more morally upright today under the present DepEd Secretary
Students are more assertive today that ten years ago.