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Chapter 2  Developing a Research Proposal

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Previous Chapter 1 The Nature of Educational Research

Chapter 2 Complete

From his Pearls of Wisdom...

Chapter 2


"The imagination and insight that goes into defining the research problem usually determines thee ultimate value of a research study more than any other factor". Pg. 37


"The introductory section of the proposal should sell the reader on the idea that the study is worth doing". Pg. 45


"The directional hypothesis states the researcher's expectations about what the data will show, for example, which of two experimental treatments will yield superior results on an outcome measure. The following are examples of directional hypotheses:

1. There is a positive relationship between the number of older siblings and the social maturity scores of six year old children.

2. Children who attend preschool will make greater gains in first grade reading achievement than comparable children who do not attend preschool." Pg. 46


"The null hypothesis states that no relationship exists between the variables studied, or no difference will be found between the experimental treatments". Pg. 46


"Whenever possible, you should include a pilot study as part of your research project". Pg. 50



p. 36: #3 (Describe possible reasons for doing a study that replicates and extends previous research)

*If research is grounded only in personal interests and not on previous research literature the "gatekeeper" will not be able to judge whether and how the study contributes to research knowledge.

*Replicate and extend previous research as the need is critical in education because studies have weaknesses in methodology or generalizability-- so by repeating and improving on the study you add value.

*Replicate and extend previous research to check findings of a break through study --if findings are "new and surprising" you need relication to validate or disconfirm findings or interpretations. Replication could open up a new area of investigation or have major impact.

*Replicate and extend previous research to check validity of research findings across different populations.Typically Edc. research has small samples representing a limited population and without replicaiton there is no way to determine if study applies to other populations. Without replication you can't generalize across settings.

*Replicate and extend previous research to check trends that occur over time. What was valid 20 yrs ago isn't necessarily valid now. It is also a way to check earlier findings and identify trends.

*Replicate and extend previous research to check important findings using a different methodology. Sometimes findings are compromised by methodological flaws. (ex. uncontrolled variables) So it is important to replicate using better methodology.

*Replicate and extend previous research to develop more effective or efficient interventions. Once a program is deemed effective or efficient replication or extended studies are done to determine whether these programs can be improved.

#6 (Distinguish between directional hypotheses, null hypotheses, research questions, research objectives, and statements of purpose in a proposal.) __Recognize recommended criteria for good research hypotheses.__


Directional Hypotheses-states researchers expectation about what data will show. Hypothesis is usually stated in terms of a positive or negative relationship between two variables.


Null Hypothesis- Researchers expectations not revealed. No relationship between variables exists or no difference will be found. Hypothesis is null because it fits in the logic of the inferential stats.

Disadvantage of null is because researchers expectations are based on considerable insight into other research and theory which would often make the study clearer to the person reading the report.

Some researchers actually state both-- a directional (which states researchers expectations) and a null (which is used for performing statistical tests.


If a study is not designed to test a hypothesis-- you can state research questions, purpose, or research objectives. Depending on the study it may be appropriate to use several of these forms.

Each question, purpose, or objective should be supported by a rationale. Be sure and explain why the research framed the questions, purpose or objectives. Tell how research findings relating to it are likely to advance knowledge or are important to educational practice.


Research Questions- If you ask research questions then data analysis should be directed to answering each of these research questions.


Purpose and Objectives- Questions can be phrased as purpose or objectives as long as the methodology and data analysis address the purpose.


Recognize recommended criteria for good research hypotheses.

Hypothesis is a testable prediction about observable phenomena that is based on theoretical constructs and their relationship. Hypothesis should be stated in terms of supported... not proved. Hypothesis- theory-based prediction about observed phenomena. Hypothesis should be accompanied by rationale that explains why it is plausable given the theory from which it was derived.


From the Powerpoint

Criteria for a Good Problem Statement (inspired by Borg & Gall (5th ed.)

~Written in clear, non-technical language; stimulates the reader’s interest

~Limited in scope to be manageable

~Fit within broader context of current theory and relevant research

~Problem should be “significant” (explores important question or meets recognized need or contributes to prevailing knowledge)

~Problem should be clearly and logically related to hypotheses


Another set of criteria to judge a research question:

*Worthy of studying

*States an expected relationship

*Testable within a reasonable time

*Concisely stated in understandable language

*What is the question? (Avoid Yes/No type of questions!}


Criteria for a Good Hypothesis

*State an expected relationship between two or more variables

*Based on either theory or evidence for considering the hypothesis worthy of testing

*Should be testable

*Should be as brief as possible consistent with clarity


Good or Bad Problem Statements?

Do shared mutual leisure interests increase marital satisfaction?

How do shared leisure interests affect marital satisfaction?


What are the effects of the implementation of accommodations under Virginia State regulations in testing handicapped students for minimum competencies?

How have accommodations in testing students with disabilities influenced their pass rate on the Virginia minimum competencies tests?


What differences will client-centered group counseling as compared to a didactic group approach have on adult children’s grief reactions to the death of a parent?

What are the effects of client-centered and didactic group counseling on adult children’s grief reactions to the recent death of a parent?


Is job satisfaction for first year teachers related to their pre-service familiarity with and comfort in the classroom?

What factors influence the job satisfaction of first year teachers?

How does the amount of preservice classroom clinical experience influence first year teachers' job satisfaction?


Is there a positive correlation between student achievement and nationally certified elementary teachers, as measured by standardized achievement tests?

What is the elementary student achievement of teachers with and without national certification?

To what degree do nationally certified elementary teachers increase their students' standardized test performance


There will be a difference in the random sample groups which shows higher standardized test scores of students taught by certified social studies teachers.

Teacher certification has a positive effect on students’ achievement test scores.

Eighth grade students taught by certified social studies teachers will score higher on the Virginia 8th Grade History SOL test than those taught by uncertified social studies teachers.


There will be a difference in the random sample groups which shows higher standardized test scores of students taught by certified social studies teachers.

Teacher certification has a positive effect on students’ achievement test scores.

Eighth grade students taught by certified social studies teachers will score higher on the Virginia 8th Grade History SOL test than those taught by uncertified social studies teachers.

Certified social studies teachers will have higher student achievement than uncertified social studies as measured by the eighth grade Virginia SOL History test.


University-based teacher preparation programs will influence the following outcomes: teacher learning, professional practice, and student learning.

University-based teacher preparation increases classroom teaching quality as measured by the CETP Classroom Observation Protocol.

University-based teacher preparation increases student achievement as measured by the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.

University-based teacher preparation programs are more effective in increasing student standardized achievement test scores than alternative teacher preparation programs.


General Templates for Directional

“Ss who get X do better on test Z than Ss who do not get X (or get Y.)”


“Ss who get A do better than Ss who get B as measured by test Z.”

Ss = Subjects;

X; A; B = Treatments (independent variable);

Z = Observed outcome (dependent variable).


General Template for Null Hypothesis:

“There is no difference on Z between Ss who get X and Ss who do not get X (or get some other X.)”

Ss = Subjects;

X = Treatments (independent variable);

Z = Observed outcome (dependent variable).






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