Educational Research

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“Educational research is a structured scientific inquiry into an educational question that provides an answer contributing toward increasing the body of generalizable knowledge about educational concerns” (Hopkins C. A. , 1990, pp. 23-24) So when asked, why us educational research the answer is clear. We need and do educational research to provide answers and to contribute more knowledge about our educational concerns. Our text book for this class suggests six reasons for the importance of educational research: Educators are constantly trying to understand educational processes and must make professional decisions.

Noneducational policy groups, such as state and federal legislatures and courts, have increasingly mandated changes in education. Concerned public, professional, and private groups and foundations have increased their research activities. Reviews of prior research have interpreted accumulated empirical evidence. Educational research is readily available. Many educators who are not full-time researchers conduct studies to guide their decisions and to serve as efforts in classroom, school, and system accountability. (McMillan, 2006)

Educational research is used at the local level to provide knowledge about education for our communities. For example, if the local community college wanted to expand their offerings, educational research could provide them with information about what the community would like to see offered, what the general needs for education in the area are, and any other pertinent data that is needed. Educational research at the state and national level is used to provide knowledge about education that is generally used in policy making, bill passing, budget dictates, and curriculum decisions.

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So you can see that it plays an important part no matter what level it is used for. Our book describes the functions of research as basic, applied, evaluation, and action. Each of these plays an important role depending on what knowledge is needed. The purpose or function of basic research is to know and explain through testing, specific theories that provide broad generalizations. It is not designed to solve social problems it is more oriented towards theory and general explanations. Applied research generally is focused on a specific area e. g. edicine, engineering, social work or education. Applied research is used to find solutions to general problems. In the field of education applied research usually focuses on problems that need to be solved to improve practice. Also in the field of education the research focuses on the knowledge about educational theories and practices, as opposed to focusing on universal knowledge. There is also the function of evaluation research which focuses on a particular practice at a given site. Evaluation research can determine how valuable or worthwhile a particular practice is at a site.

Is the practice doing what it was supposed to do? Is it worth the cost? These are the types of questions that evaluation research can answer. Lastly, there is action research. As the term ‘action’ implies this research involves current problems and issues. Action research may focus on three levels: individual teacher research, research by teams in a single school or department, and school wide research. It is generally done locally because the issues that this type of research addresses are usually at the classroom, school, or district and community level.

Action research can be both quantitative and qualitative in nature and intense research control is not essential. (McMillan, 2006) Some of the limitations on educational research include: Legal and ethical consideration. Because research primarily focuses on people, one must be careful to protect the rights and welfare of the people being researched. If a person is underage there are documents to be signed by their parent or custodian, and likewise if the person is an adult they must be informed that their information will be used.

Public Institutions: Because education is a public entity it is vulnerable to outside forces. Also because it is public the types of questions and research done are limited. One must be careful, depending on the community not to be offensive or invasive. Program Variability: We have a huge variety of programs in education which makes it difficult to compare apples to oranges so to speak. Diversity: The diversity in our population puts yet another constraint on educational research. We have a diverse population in language, culture, religion, academic preparation and ties to the homeland.

Complexity of research problems: When we are doing educational research we have a wide variety of variables. We have students, teachers, administrators, parents and other members of the community. Methodological difficulties: Lastly, because educational research deals mainly with human beings and we are very complex in our thinking as well as our problem solving skills it is difficult to find a way to measure validly. Quantitative Research Designs: *Experimental research *design: In an experimental design the researcher manipulates what the subjects will experience.

This means that the researcher has some control over what the subjects’ experience. A true experimental design is when there are random assignments of subjects to different groups. This differs from quasi-experimental because in quasi-experimental in that there is no random assignment of subjects. The most popular experimental design is the Single-Subject design. This design is similar to quasi-experimental research because there is direct manipulation but no random assignment in single-subject research.

Nonexperimental research design: describes things that have occurred and examines relationships between things without any direct manipulation of conditions that are experienced. There are six types of nonexperimental designs: Descriptive: This research provides a summary of what already exists. The purpose of it is limited to describing something as it is. Comparative: As the name implies this is research that compares the differences between two or more groups. Correlational: This research looks for relationships between two or more phenomena.

Survey: This is where the researcher selects a sampling of individuals and administers some type of questionnaire to collect data. Ex Post Facto: This design is used to explore possible causal relationships among variables that cannot be changed by the researcher. Secondary Data Analysis: This is where the researcher uses data that had been previously collected by another researcher. Qualitative Research Designs: Interactive Methods use face to face methods to collect data from subjects in their normal settings.

There are five interactive designs as follows: Ethnography: this is a description and interpretation of a cultural or social group or system. Phenomenology: this type of study is used to describe the meaning of a lived experience. The researcher sets aside all previous notions and collects data on how individuals make sense out of a particular experience or situation. Case Study: this type of study entails using a program, event, activity or some other type of ‘case’ which are bounded in time and place.

Grounded Theory: this study goes beyond the usual detailed description and analysis and develops more detailed concepts or statements. It is often used in a nonspecific way to refer to any approach to forming theoretical ideas that somehow begins with data. Critical Studies: a critical study would draw from critical theory, feminist theory, race theory and postmodern perspectives which assume that knowledge is subjective. Noninteractive Methods are sometimes called analytical research, researches ideas and events by analyzing documents, thus the term noninteractive.

Examples of analytical research include concept analysis and historical analysis. The first is a study of educational concepts and the second involves a systematic collection and critique of documents that describe past events. Mixed Method Research Designs combine quantitative and qualitative methods and is becoming more popular because many situations are best researched using a variety of methods. The advantage to this is that the researchers are not limited to qualitative or quantitative but can use both.

Probably the most important advantage to mixed method studies is that it can show the result with one type of research and explain why it was obtained with the other typed. There are three mixed-method research designs: Explanatory Designs: this is the most common design where first data is collected and then depending on the results qualitative data is gathered to support the findings. Exploratory Designs: this is where qualitative data is gathered first and the quantitative second. Triangulation Designs: in this design, both qualitative and quantitative is collected at about the same time.

This design is used when the strengths of one offsets the weakness of the other, so that together they provide a more comprehensive set of data. This adds more credibility to the research. In describing the role and purpose of qualitative and quantitative research I found this table and information that outlines it in an understandable and concise way: Table 1 : Comparison of features of Quantitative and Qualitative approaches to research Consider a study being undertaken into waiting times in the Accident & Emergency (A) Department of a hospital. A quantitative study, measuring how long people wait, can be purely objective.

However if the researcher was wanting to discover how patients felt about their waiting time, they would have to come into contact with the patients and make judgments about the way they answered their questions. If the researcher asked the patient “how are you feeling having waited an hour to be seen by the doctor? ” they would almost certainly register the patient’s non-verbal behavior as well as document the response; in this way the researcher is adding a subjective element to the study. Quantitative research is inclined to be deductive. In other words it tests theory.

This is in contrast to most qualitative research which tends to be inductive. In other words it generates theory. Using the A&E waiting time example again, the quantitative approach might test the hypothesis that “Patients attending this A&E department do not wait for more than one hour to be seen by a doctor”. A qualitative approach which explores the feelings of patients who wait an excessive time to be seen by the doctor might generate the theory that “patients who experience an excessive wait to be seen by the doctor experience an enlargement of the symptoms that brought them to the department”.

Quantitative designs of research tend to produce results that can be generalized. Using our A&E example, we should find that, at least for the department under consideration, the results of the quantitative study tend to hold true. Providing, of course, that the research was conducted in an appropriate manner using appropriate sampling techniques. However, qualitative studies tend to produce results that are less easy to generalize. This has to do with the problem of the sample used at the time. We all know, for example, that our feelings about waiting can change dependent on our particular set of circumstances.

Even if the researcher encountered the same group of clients on another day, they may find different results. Generally, it is difficult to generalize with qualitative results. Lastly here, the most obvious difference between quantitative research and qualitative research is that quantitative research uses data that are structured in the form of numbers or that can be immediately transported into numbers. If the data cannot be structured in the form of numbers, they are considered qualitative. (Note that qualitative data can sometimes be handled in such a way as to produce quantitative data. e. g. he researcher exploring feelings of patients can analyze the responses in clusters that are negative or positive so as to produce a figure/percentage of negative patient and positive patient feelings). Therefore, objectivity, deductiveness, generalizability and numbers are features often associated with quantitative research. The components of a properly done research paper consists of the title page, abstract, introduction, review of literature, research questions and/or hypotheses, method—participants, method—instrumentation, method—design, method-procedure, results, discussion and references.

The title page should contain the title, the author or authors, the institution the author is representing and the date. The abstract does not need to be lengthy but it should be dense with information. It should provide a summary of the purpose, participants, method, findings and conclusions. It should be limited to information that is essential to understanding the research. The introduction can be one to several paragraphs in length and should be a summary of the purpose, background, and significance (why it is important) of the study.

The review of literature provides a theoretical foundation that the author used as a basis for his work. It summarizes critiques and relates other primary studies to the current one. It should be written in the past tense. The research questions and/or hypotheses are the statements or questions that the research should validate, prove, or disprove. The methodology section contains subsections to cover the different methods used for analysis. One section is participants which are described using age, gender, socioeconomic status, grade level, aptitude, and other characteristics relevant to the study.

The next section is Instrumentation which describes the data collection measures and procedures. Following that is the design which is the specific method used such as case study, experimental etc. Lastly, is the procedure that can be combined with the design and includes the steps taken to implement the study. The results are just as the word implies. This section contains a description of the techniques to analyze and the findings from the analyses. It is to be written in the past tense. It is important to note that the findings are only to be presented not interpreted.

The discussion section is where you would include the interpretation or evaluation of the findings. You would indicate the weaknesses, conclusions and implications for further research. The findings are not just repeated but are discussed and related to other studies. The support for the hypotheses is summarized or the questions are answered. In picking a research problem it is important to consider these factors: Is this the type of problem that can be effectively solved through the process of research? Is the problem significant? Is the problem a new one? Is research on the problem feasible?

Am I competent to plan and carry out a study of this type? Is pertinent data available? Will I have the necessary financial resources to carry out this study? Will I have enough time to complete the project? Will I have the courage and determination to pursue the study in spite of difficulties and social hazards that may be involved? Introduction: Hypothesis: CAI combined with classroom instruction using a specified constructive approach produces greater achievement gains of the students than the students with only classroom instruction using the constructivist approach. References: