Introduction to Research _Scientific Inquiry_

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					Introduction to Research
   (Scientific Inquiry)
         What is Research?

• research is an unusually stubborn and
  persisting effort to think straight which
  involves the gathering and the
  intelligent use of relevant data
                    H. M. Hamlin, What is Research?
                    American Vocational Journal,
                    September 1966.
    What is Educational Research?

• The ability to answer a question or concern
  facing many of us in the area of Education.
• Teachers, counselors, administrators, parents,
  and students continually need to seek
  information in order to perform their jobs.
       Origin of the Word
• From the French word "recherche"
  which means to travel through or
     How do we know
  what we know and why do
    we do what we do?
• Personal Experience (Sensory
  – Our personal experiences are limited
  – We may be mistaken in our observations
  – We may fail to see things clearly because
    of our biases
    The Fallacy of Personal
• You might have eaten some type of
  food and got sick. Therefore, you never
  eat this food again because it makes
  you sick.
     The Case Against Bread
• More than 98% of convicted felons are bread users.
• Fully half of all children who grow up in bread
  consuming households score below average on
  standardized tests.
• In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was
  baked in the home, the average life expectancy was
  less than 50 years.
• More than 90% of all violent crimes are committed
  within 24 hours of eating bread.
• Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a
  low incidence of cancer, Alzheimer's, and
  Parkinson's disease.
              Is it True?
• Do women make nicer bosses?
  – Most of have seen the movie 9-5!
      How do we know
   what we know and why do
     we do what we do?
• Tradition (Agreement with Others)
   – Advice, rules, and approaches to handling
     problems are passed from year to year and
     accepted as truth
   – Reliance on tradition eliminates the need to
     search for knowledge, makes accepting new
     knowledge difficult, and mitigates our desire to
     question existing practice.
     The Fallacy of Tradition
• Trees for building purposes should be felled in
• When transplanting a tree, be careful to have the
  same side facing the south.
• Wood from a tree struck by lightning should never
  be used in the construction of a house, or barn, or
  they in turn may also be struck by lightning.
• Rain drops on a child under a year will cause
     How do we know
  what we know and why do
    we do what we do?
• Authority (Expert Opinion)
  – Authorities can be wrong, and the public
    has a tendency to accept as fact what are
    actually opinions.
    The Fallacy of Authority
• In 1992 the Catholic Church reversed their
  decision charging Galileo with heresy. He
  had claimed the earth was round and
  revolved around the sun,
  which went against
  the teachings
  of the church.
• All human beings are mortal
• Sally is a human being
• Therefore, Sally is mortal
      Research (The Scientific
• In contrast to sources of knowledge that are
  primarily idiosyncratic, informal, and
  influenced heavily by subjective
  interpretations, research involves a
  systematic process of gathering,
  interpreting, and reporting information.
       The Scientific Method
• Testing ideas in the public arena by
  formulating a hypothesis (a tentative, testable
  assertion about certain behaviors, phenomena,
  or events) within a rigorous format.
• Must be reproducible and described in
  sufficient detail through 5 distinct steps:
   – State the problem
   – Define the purpose of the study
   – How to gather the information
   – How to organize and analyze the information
   – How the information is interpreted
Ways of Knowing
Two Approaches to Research
• Quantitative                 • Qualitative
   – Emphasizes numbers,          – Emphasizes natural
     measurements, control,         settings, observations,
     and experimentation            verbal narratives, and
   – This is the traditional        interpretations
     approach in educational      – Emerged in the mid-
     research                       1970s as an approach to
                                    educational research
• Quantitative              • Qualitative
   –   Test theory             – Understand theory
   –   Establish facts         – Develop
   –   Show relationships        understanding
   –   Predict                 – Describe multiple
   –   Statistically             realities
       describe                – Capture naturally
                                 occurring behavior

• Quantitative            • Qualitative
   –   Structured            – Evolving
   –   Predetermined         – Flexible
   –   Formal                – General
   –   Specific

• Quantitative            • Qualitative
   –   Large                 – Small
   –   Representative        – Nonrepresentative
   –   Random Selection      – Purposeful
   –   Control Groups
   –   Stratified

• Quantitative         • Qualitative
   –   Quantities           –   Verbal descriptions
   –   Counts               –   Field Notes
   –   Measures             –   Observations
   –   Instruments          –   Documents
   –   Numbers              –   Photographs
   –   Statistics           –   People’s own words
                            –   Narrative

• Quantitative           • Qualitative
   – Experiments            – Observation
   – Quasi-experiments      – Open-ended
   – Surveys                  interviewing
   – Structured             – Review of
     Interviews               documents and
   – Structured               artifacts
   Which Approach is Best?
• The problem you are studying determines
  which approach to take.
• One is not better than the other.
• However, some researchers tend to look
  down their nose at the qualitative researcher!
  Which Would You Select?
• Job turnover is a major problem in teaching!
• Get with a partner and quickly design a study
  to investigate this problem.
   – Decide whether to approach this problem
     quantitatively or qualitatively
   – Tell What you would do and Why
   – What are the advantages and disadvantages of
     your approach
        “Mixed Methods”
• Some researchers used both qualitative
  and quantitative methods in a single
  study. This is known as a “mixed
  method” approach.
       Categories of Research
• Basic
• Applied
• Action

  The process used in the 3 types of research is the
  same; the setting and outcomes are different
            Basic Research
• Also called pure or fundamental research
• The goal is to understand and explain, to
  provide broad generalizations about how
  phenomena are related.
• Not concerned with immediate application of
  the results to practical situations
• Most educational research does not fall into
  this category!
 Examples of Basic Research
       in Education
• How does the memory system work
• How are language skills developed
• How does one learn psychomotor skills
          Applied Research

• The purpose is to test theories and
  other ideas in the context of naturally
  occurring educational settings.
• Usually focused on a problem that
  needs to be solved to improve
  educational practice.
     Examples of Applied
• Does computer aided instruction
  improve student learning?
• What is the effect of immediate
  feedback and delayed feedback on
  student achievement?
          Action Research
• Typically done in a school setting
• Is designed and conducted by
  practitioners who analyze the data to
  improve their own practice. Action
  research can be done by individuals or
  by teams of colleagues.
      Action Research
It has been said, "Teachers often
leave a mark on their students, but
they seldom leave a mark on their
profession" (Wolfe, 1989).
Through the process and products
of action research teachers can do
Examples of Action Research
• Does “flash cards” of horticultural plants
  with scientific names improve student
• Do leaf collections really help students learn
  tree identification?
• Do classes with assigned seats have less
  discipline problems than classes without
  assigned seating?
         Action Research
• Get back with your partner and identify
  three examples of action research a
  teacher or administrator could conduct
  in their local setting.
        Types of Research
• There is no general agreement on the
  types of educational research which
  exist. The list that follows is fairly
          Types of Research
• Historical* - What was
• Descriptive (sometimes called Survey) – What is
   – Ethnographic
   – Correlational
   – Ex Post Facto (also known as Causel-Comparative)
• Experimental – What can be

         *Some  researchers classify Historical
         research as Descriptive research
          Types of Research
• Historical - descriptive research that involves
  describing and interpreting events,
  conditions, or situations of the past. As with
  all history, the purpose is to study the past in
  order to understand the present, and maybe
  to plan for the future.
• It generally relies on qualitative data such as
  written documents and oral histories.
        Historical Research
• It is possibly the least popular form of
  educational research in terms of the number
  of studies produced on an annual basis.
• Grant and other types of educational research
  funding tend to favor current issues and
        Historical Research
• Historical research also can be difficult if the
  period is far enough back in time that records
  are not readily available and individuals
  associated with the event are no longer alive.
• However, if done well, historical research
  can be most interesting particularly if a
  connection is made to a present issue or
         Historical Research
• What was the predecessor of the Cooperative
  Extension Service?
• What does John Dewey say about the integration of
  academic and vocational education?
• What did FFA members read in the past and what
  are the implications for the present?
• How did Farm Life Schools differ from regular high
         Historical Research
• Basic characteristics of historical research
   – rich descriptive narrative.
   – mostly qualitative data presented.
   – broad research questions are frequently used
     rather than narrowly defined hypotheses.
        Historical Research
• Data Sources
  – Persons such as former teachers, students,
  – Historical Documents such as policy statements,
    curricular guidelines, etc.
  – Records such as student transcripts.
  – Relics such as desks, writing instruments,
         Historical Research
• Research Tools
  –   Structured interviews.
  –   Visits to historical sites and buildings.
  –   Archives
  –   Libraries
         Types of Research
• Descriptive - attempts to describe and
  explain conditions of the present. It relies on
  qualitative and quantitative data gathered
  from written documents, personal interviews,
  test results, surveys, etc. Often people will
  call this type of research “Survey Research”
       Descriptive Research
• Because of its flexibility and the fact that it
  deals with current topics, descriptive
  research is probably the most popular form
  of research in education today.
• It is also popular because data can be
  collected from a wide variety of sources.
       Descriptive Research
• Basic characteristics of descriptive research
   – It provides a descriptive analysis of a given
     population or sample. Any inferences are left to
     the readers.
   – Qualitative, quantitative or a combination of both
     types of data can be presented.
   – Hypotheses or broad research questions are used .
     Descriptive Research
• Data Sources
  – Persons such as teachers, students,
    parents, administrators, etc.
  – Documents such as policy statements,
    curricular guidelines.
  – Records such as student transcripts.
     Descriptive Research
• Research Tools
  – Structured interviews.
  – Structured questionnaires and surveys
  – Standardized tests.
       Descriptive Research
• What are the characteristics of career and
  technical education students?
• What is the level of job satisfaction of Career
  and Technical Education teachers?
• Why do teachers leave the profession?
        Types of Research
• Ethnographic - attempts to describe
  group behavior and interactions in
  social settings. It relies on qualitative
  techniques especially observation and
  careful recording of events and social
      Ethnographic Research
• Ethnography is from the Greek "ethnos" for people,
  tribes, or nations and "graphy" for writing.
• Ethnographic research is the writing about people in
  their natural setting.
• It comes from the social sciences and was made
  popular by the likes of Margaret Mead, the noted
   Ethnographic Research…
• It is a form of descriptive research and is also
  referred to as "observational research" and
  "naturalistic inquiry."
• Ethnography is well-suited for educational
  research because so much of what we do in
  education is based on human interaction in
  social settings.
      Ethnographic Research…
• The major benefit of ethnographic research is that it
  provides rich descriptions of human behavior in
  natural settings not in artificially constructed,
  experimental settings.
• In addition to the question of subjectivity, the major
  drawback of ethnography is that the researcher
  cannot infer from a small sample to larger
• Any inferences made in an ethnographic study are
  left to the readers to accept or reject.
   Ethnographic Research…
• Data Sources
  – Persons associated with the subject of study.
  – Observations.
• Research Tools
  – Structured Interviews.
  – Careful recording of events.
   Ethnographic Research…
• Examples
  – What is the impact of peer pressure on student
  – Does the gender of the teacher affect class
  – Does teacher movement in the classroom
    contribute to desirable student behavior?
         Types of Research
• Correlational - attempts to explore
  relationships or make predictions. It relies on
  quantitative data such as test scores, grade
  point averages, attitudinal instruments, etc.
  which can be correlated and shown that some
  relationship exists between or among them.
      Correlational Research
• A caution has to be advised when
  considering correlational research and cause
  and effect.
   – Establishing cause and effect is very difficult and
     may be impossible due to the myriad interactions
     of many variables in social science research.
     Correlational Research
• Data Sources
  – Raw scores such as standardized test scores.
  – Measures such as grade point averages.
  – Dichotomous data , data which has two
    possibilities such as male/female or pass/fail.
    Correlational Research
• Research Tools
  – Standardized tests are the most common
    tools for doing correlational studies.
       Correlational Research
• Correlation is the relationship between two or more
  variables or sets of data.
• It is expressed in the form of a coefficient with
  +1.00 indicating a perfect positive correlation; -1.00
  indicating a perfect inverse correlation; 0.00
  indicating a complete lack of a relationship.
• You can start getting excited if the correlation is .40
  or higher.
       Correlational Research
• Commonly used statistics to calculate
   –   Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation
   –   Spearmans Rank Order Correlation
   –   Kendall’s Tau
   –   Point Biserial
   –   Phi Correlation Coefficient
      Correlational Research
• Is there a relationship between family income and
  grade point average?
• Is there a relationship between part time employment
  and grade point average?
• Is there a relationship between years of teaching
  experience and VoCATS scores?
• Is there a relationship between education and
         Types of Research
• Causal Comparative (Ex Post Facto) -
  attempts to explore cause and effect
  relationships where causes already exist and
  cannot be manipulated. It relies on both
  qualitative and quantitative data such as
  written documents, interviews, test scores,
       Ex Post Facto Research
• In educational research there are some things
  we can not manipulate, but we can study the
  effects after they have occurred:
   –   Malnutrition
   –   Twins
   –   4-H or FFA member
   –   Growing up on a farm
   –   Sexual abuse
   –   Race, gender
    Ex Post Facto Research
• In experimental research:
  – If X, then Y
• In ex post facto research:
  – Y is observed, X, Q or Z may have caused
             The researchers job is to
             discover if it is X, Q or Z.
    Ex Post Facto Research
• Examples
  – Are former FFA members more likely to hold
    community leadership positions?
  – Do malnourished children have lower grades in
  – Do agriculture teachers who were state FFA
    officers have more active FFA chapters?
  – Do people who were reared on a farm have a
    stronger work ethic?

           The “treatment” has already occurred!
        Types of Research
• Experimental - attempts to explore
  cause and effect relationships where
  causes can be manipulated to produce
  different kinds of effects. It relies
  mostly on quantitative data such as test
  scores and measures of performance.
 Two Types of Experimental
• Quasi-Experimental          • True Experimental
   – Specific Hypothesis         – Specific Hypothesis
   – Researcher manipulates      – Researcher manipulates
     at least 1 variable           at least 1 variable
   – Assigns treatment at        – Assigns treatment at
     random to each group          random to each group
   – Has a control group         – Has a control group
   – CANNOT                      – Randomly assigns
     RANDOMLY ASSIGN               subjects to groups

             Typically uses intact classes
    Experimental Research
• Is teaching method A better in bringing
  about student learning than method B?
• Does a teaching unit on “Race
  Relationships” improve students’ racial
    Why Conduct Research?
• To better understand various phenomena
• To disprove fraudulent claims
• To improve education, agriculture or your
• To obtain grants
• To get promoted (if you teach at the
                                    Types of research
  Purposes or end sought
  To become familiar with    To portray accurately    To investigate        To test
  phenomena; to gain new     the incidence,           relationships         hypoteses of
  insights; to formulate a   distribution, and        between variables.    causal
  more specific research     characteristics of a     (Begins with          relationships
  problem or research        group or situation.      specific              between
  hypothesis.                (Usually not begun       hypotheses.)          variables.
                             with specific                                  (Begins with
                             hypothesis.)                                   specific
                                                       (Explain –
       (Explore)                 (Describe)            Predict)              (Control)

                             Descriptive Research
                                          Correlational/Ex Post Facto
             Survey Research
Independent Variables                                                      Independent Var.
                                                                           (X) controlled by
            Independent variables (X) not controlled by investigator

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