“There is nothing as practical as
a good theory.”
Every study is based on something.
This something is generally a broad
theoretical area in the existing
A theory is NOT a guess or a belief. A theory is based
on empirical evidence found through scientific
research that was rigorously controlled to avoid
In psychology and the social sciences,
theories have two critical components:
(a) the theory describes specific behaviors,
(b) the theory must make predictions about
The researcher presents the
theoretical framework to place
THEIR research within the
perspective of other studies in the
The theoretical framework
provides support for the proposed
study by presenting known
relationships among variables and
setting limits or boundaries for the
1. Start with recommendations for further study in specific
areas in previously published studies.
2. Use the facts, observations, and theories from previous studies
to focus your ideas about new relationships among the
variables or about new populations under study.
Present the broad theoretical
Present main issues
Tie in your research
Start your Theoretical
Framework section with a broad overview
of the topic. Define the broad topic and
list germinal researchers in the area.
Summarize the germinal researchers' key
concepts. Name their theories.
Cite researchers who present important
issues, unique perspectives, and
controversies within the specific topic
Discuss how your study fits within other
research in the field.
In a quantitative study, your purpose is to
describe your population and test
hypotheses. In stating your hypotheses,
you are essentially proposing a new
theory. Place your population and
hypotheses within the context of the
In qualitative research, there may be no
existing theoretical foundation because
theory often emerges from the findings.
Present your problem statement within the
context of the qualitative inquiry method
However, even in qualitative research
enough literature has usually been published
on any given topic to provide you with
seminal work about the specific topic.
If not, look for related topics - if you are
exploring a new area within adult education,
it is acceptable to report on similar work
within adolescent education.
The following are the basic features of a theoretical framework:
•The variables influencing the research problem should be clearly identified, defined
•The discussion should also highlight the relationship between the variables so
•The type of relationship for e.g.. Positive or negative should be highlighted.
•The reason for assuming the type of relationship should be mentioned drawing on
the previous research studies identified through the literature review.
•A model showing the relationship among the variables can be given so that the
concepts can be visualized and understood clearly by the reader.
Types of variables
There are many types of variables like::
• As the name suggests the value of a
dependent variable is influenced by other
• It is the main variable of interest to
An independent variable influences the
value of dependent variable either in a
positive or in a negative way.
The variance in the dependent variable is
accounted for by the independent
variable that moderates the relationship between
dependent and independent variables is called as a
The moderating variable has a strong contingent
effect on the relationship between the independent and
the dependent variable.
An intervening variable is one that surfaces between the
time, the independent variable start operating to influence
the dependent variable and the time the impact is felt on
The intervening variable surfaces as a function of the
independent variables operating in any situation and helps
to conceptualize and explain the influences of the
independent variables on the dependent variables.
The theoretical framework is the foundation on which the entire
research is carried out.
It is logically developed, described and elaborated network of
associations among the variables deemed to be relevant to the
problem situation and identified through such processes as interviews,
observations and literature survey.
Experience and intuition can also be taken up in developing the