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How to Design and Evaluate

Research in Education
Jack R. Fraenkel and Norman
E. Wallen
Chapter 1

The Nature of Research:

Ways of Knowing
Ways of knowing

Sensory experience (incomplete/undependable)

Agreement with others (common knowledge
Experts opinion (they can be mistaken)
Logic/reasoning things out (can be based on
false premises)

Why research is of value

Scientific research (using scientific method) is

more trustworthy than expert/colleague
opinion, intuition, etc.

Ways of Knowing:
Scientific Method
Scientific Method (testing ideas in
the public arena)
Put guesses (hypotheses) to tests and see
how they hold up
All aspects of investigations are public and
described in detail so anyone who questions
results can repeat study for themselves
Replication is a key component of scientific

Scientific Method Continued

Scientific Method (requires freedom of
thought and public procedures that can be

Identify the problem or question

Clarify the problem
Determine information needed and how to obtain it
Organize the information obtained
Interpret the results

All conclusions are tentative and subject to

change as new evidence is uncovered (dont
PROVE things)

Types of Research
Types of Research

Experimental (most conclusive of methods)

Researcher tries different treatments
(independent variable) to see their effects
(dependent variable)
In simple experiments compare 2 methods and try
to control all extraneous variables that might
affect outcome
Need control over assignment to treatment and
control groups (to make sure they are equivalent)
Sometimes use single subject research (intensive
study of single individual or group over time)

Types of Research:
Correlational Research
Looks at existing relationships between 2 or
more variables to make better predictions
Causal Comparative Research
Intended to establish cause and effect but
cannot assign subjects to trtmt/control
Limited interpretations (could be common cause
for both cause and effectstress causes
smoking and cancer)
Used for identifying possible causes; similar to

Types of Research:
Survey and Ethnographic
Survey Research

Determine/describe characteristics of a group

Descriptive survey in writing or by interview
Provides lots of information from large
Three main problems: clarity of questions,
honesty of respondents, return rates

Ethnographic research (qualitative)

In depth research to answer WHY questions

Some is historical (biography, phenomenology,
case study, grounded theory)

Types of Research:
Historical Research
Historical Research

Study past, often using existing documents, to

reconstruct what happened
Establishing truth of documents is essential
Action Research (differs from above types)
Not concerned with generalizations to other
Focus on information to change conditions in a
particular situation (may use all the above

Each of these methods is valuable for a

different purpose

Three General Types of Research

General Research Types
Descriptive (describe state of affairs using
surveys, ethnography, etc.)
Associational (goes beyond description to
see how things are related)

Intervention (try intervening to see

effects using experiments or quasiexperiments)

Other Types of Reserach

Locate all quantitative studies on a topic and
synthesize results using statistical techniques
(average the results).
Effect sizes.

Teacher as researcher.

Single-subject research.

Quantitative vs Qualitative
Approaches to Research
Quantitative (numbers)
Facts/feelings separate.
World is single reality.
Emphasize casual
Researcher removed.
Established research
Experiment prototype.

Qualitative (verbal

multiple realities.
Concerned with
understandings from
viewpoint of
Flexible, emergent,
research designs.
Limited generalization.

Overview of the Research Process

(Fig. 1.4, in the Text)
Problem statement that includes some
background info and justification for study
Exploratory question or hypothesis
(relationship among variables clearly defined)
Definitions (in operational terms)
Review of related literature (other studies of
the topic read and summarized to shed light
on what is already known)
Subjects (sample, population, method to
select sample)

Overview of the Research

Process (Fig. 1.4, Continued)
Instruments (tests/measures described in
detail and with rationale for their use)
Procedures (what, when, where, how, and
with whom);
Give schedule/dates, describe materials
used, design of study, and possible
biases/threats to validity
Data analysis (how data will be analyzed to
answer research questions or test

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