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Chapter 7

Correlational Research

Topics to Be Discussed

Definition, purpose, and limitation of

correlational research

Correlation coefficients and their

significance

Process of conducting correlational

research

Relationship studies

Prediction studies

Correlational Research

Definition

Whether and to what degree variables are

related

Purpose

Determine relationships

Make predictions

Limitation

Cannot indicate cause and effect

The Process

Problem selection

Variables to be correlated are selected on the

basis of some rationale

Math attitudes and math achievement

Teachers’ sense of efficacy and their effectiveness

Increases the ability to meaningfully interpret

results

Objective 2.1

The Process

Participant and instrument selection

Minimum of 30 subjects

Instruments must be valid and reliable

Higher validity and reliability requires smaller samples

Lower validity and reliability requires larger samples

Design and procedures

Collect data on two or more variables for each

subject

Data analysis

Compute the appropriate correlation coefficient

Objectives 2.2 & 2.3

Correlation Coefficients

A correlation coefficient identifies the

size and direction of a relationship

Size/magnitude

Ranges from 0.00 – 1.00

Direction

Positive or negative

Correlation Coefficients

Interpreting the size of correlations

General rule

Less than .35 is a low correlation

Between .36 and .65 is a moderate correlation

Above .66 is a high correlation

Predictions

Between .60 and .70 are adequate for group

predictions

Above .80 is adequate for individual predictions

Objective 3.5

Correlation Coefficients

Interpreting the size of correlations (cont.)

Criterion-related validity

Above .60 for affective scales is adequate

Above .80 for tests is minimally acceptable

Inter-rater reliability

Above .90 is very good

Between .80 and .89 is acceptable

Between .70 and .79 is minimally acceptable

Lower than .69 is problematic

Objective 3.5

Correlation Coefficients

Interpreting the direction of correlations

Direction

Positive

High scores on the predictor are associated with high

scores on the criterion

Low scores on the predictor are associated with low

scores on the criterion

Negative

High scores on the predictor are associated with low

scores on the criterion

Low scores on the predictor are associated with high

scores on the criterion

Positive or negative does not mean good or bad

Objective 3.3

Correlation Coefficients

Interpreting the size and direction of

correlations using the general rule

+.95 is a strong positive correlation

+.50 is a moderate positive correlation

+.20 is a low positive correlation

-.26 is a low negative correlation

-.49 is a moderate negative correlation

-.95 is a strong negative correlation

Which of the correlations above is the

strongest, the first or last?

Objective 3.3 & 3.5

Correlation Coefficients

Scatterplots

Graphical presentations of correlations

Example of predicting from an attitude

scale – EX 1 – to an achievement test –

EX 2

Predictor variable - EX1 - is on the

horizontal axis

Criterion variable - EX 2 - is on the vertical

axis

Objective 3.4

An Example of a Scatterplot

50.00 Linear Regression

ex2 = 11.23 + 0.72 * ex1

R-Square = 0.66

45.00

40.00

ex2

35.00

30.00

Objective 3.4

ex1

Correlation Coefficients

Common variance

Definition

The extent to which variables vary in a systematic manner

Interpreted as the percentage of variance in the criterion

variable explained by the predictor variable

Computation

The squared correlation coefficient - r2

Examples

If r = .50 then r = .25

2

by the predictor

If r = .70 then r = .49

2

by the predictor

Statistical Significance

Statistical significance

Is the observed coefficient different from 0.00?

Does the correlation represent a true relationship?

Is the correlation only the result of chance?

Determining statistical significance

Consult a table of the critical values of r

See Table A.2 in Appendix A

Three common levels of significance

.01 (1 chance out of 100)

.05 (5 chances out of 100)

.10 (10 chances out of 100)

Statistical Significance

Sample size and statistical significance

Small samples require higher correlations for significance

Large samples require lower correlations for significance

Practical significance and statistical significance

Small correlation coefficients can be statistically significant even

though they have little practical significance

+.20

Little or no practical significance because it is very low and

predicts only .04 of the variation in the criterion scores

-.30

Statistically significant at the .05 level if the sample is about 40

Little or no practical significance because it is low and predicts

only .09 of the variation in the criterion scores

Relationship Studies

General purpose

Gain insight into variables that are related to other

variables relevant to educators

Achievement

Self-esteem

Self-concept

Two specific purposes

Suggest subsequent interest in establishing cause

and effect between variables found to be related

Control for variables related to the dependent

variable in experimental studies

Objectives 5.1 & 5.2

Conducting Relationship Studies

Identify a set of variables

Limit to those variables logically related to the criterion

Identify a population and select a sample

Identify appropriate instruments for measuring each

variable

Collect data for each instrument from each subject

Compute the appropriate correlation coefficient

Objective 6.1

Types of Correlation Coefficients

The type of correlation coefficient depends on the

measurement level of the variables

Pearson r - continuous predictor and criterion variables

Math attitude and math achievement

Spearman rho – ranked or ordinal predictor and criterion

variables

Rank in class and rank on a final exam

Phi coefficient – dichotomous predictor and criterion

variables

Gender and pass/fail status on a high stakes test

See Table 7.2

Linear and Curvilinear Relationships

Linear relationships

Plots of the scores on two variables are best

described by a straight line

Math scores and science scores

Teacher efficacy and teacher effectiveness

Curvilinear relationships

Plots of scores on two variables are best described

by functions

Age and athletic ability

Anxiety and achievement

Estimated by the eta correlation

Objectives 8.1, 8.2, & 8.3

An Example of a Linear Relationship

1.0000

Linear Regression

fp = 0.39 + 0.01 * ex1

R-Square = 0.80

0.9000

fp

0.8000

0.7000

ex1

Objective 8.4

An Example of a Curvilinear Relationship

100.00 LLR Smoother

75.00

score

50.00

25.00

0.00

study

Objective 8.4

Factors that Influence Correlations

Sample size

The larger the sample the higher the likelihood of

a high correlation

Analysis of subgroups

If the total sample consists of males and females each

gender represents a subgroup

Results across subgroups can be different because they

are being obscured by the analysis of the data for the

total sample

Reduces the size of the sample

Potentially reduces variation in the scores

Objective 9.1

Factors that Influence Correlations

Variation

The greater the variation in scores the

higher the likelihood of a strong correlation

The lower the variation in scores the

higher the likelihood of a weak correlation

Attenuation

Correlation coefficients are lower when the

instruments being used have low reliability

A correction for attenuation is available

Objectives 9.2 & 9.3

Prediction Studies

relationships between or among

variables

The predictor variable is the variable from

which the researcher is predicting

The criterion variable is the variable to

which the researcher is predicting

Objectives 10.1 & 10.2

Prediction Studies

Three purposes

Facilitates decisions about individuals to

help a selection decision

Tests variables believed to be good

predictors of a criterion

Determines the predictive validity of an

instrument

Objective 11.1

Prediction Studies

Single and multiple predictors

Linear regression - one predictor and one

criterion

Y’ = a + bX

r2

Multiple regression – more than one

predictor and one criterion

Y’ = a + bX1 + bX2 + … + bXi

r2 or the coefficient of determination

Objective 11.4

Conducting a Prediction Study

Identify a set of variables

Limit to those variables logically related to the criterion

Identify a population and select a sample

Identify appropriate instruments for measuring each

variable

Ensure appropriate levels of validity and reliability

Collect data for each instrument from each subject

Typically data is collected at different points in time

Compute the results

The multiple regression coefficient

prediction equation)

Conducting a Prediction Study

Issues of concern

Shrinkage – the tendency of a prediction

equation to become less accurate when

used with a group other than the one on

which the equation was originally

developed

Cross validation – validation of a prediction

equation with another group of subjects to

identify problematic variables

Objective 11.3

Conducting a Prediction Study

Issues of concern (cont.)

Errors of measurement (e.g., low validity or

reliability) diminish the accuracy of the prediction

Intervening variables can influence the predictive

process if there is too much time between

collecting the predictor and criterion variables

Criterion variables defined in general terms (e.g.,

teacher effectiveness, success in school) tend to

have lower prediction accuracy than those defined

very narrowly (e.g., overall GPA, test scores)

Objective 11.5

Differences between Types of Studies

Correlational research is a general category

that is usually discussed in terms of two

variables

Relationship studies develop insight into the

relationships between several variables

The measurement of all variables occurs at about

the same time

Predictive studies involve the predictive

relationships between or among variables

The predictor variables are collected long before

the criterion variable

Objectives 11.2 & 11.3

Other Correlation Analyses

Path analysis

Investigates the patterns of relationships among a

number of variables

Results in a diagram that indicates the specific

manner by which variables are related (i.e., paths)

and the strength of those relationships

An extension of this analysis is structural equation

modeling (SEM)

Clarifies the direct and indirect relationships among

variables based on underlying theoretical constructs

More precise than path analysis

Often known as LISREL for the first computer program

used to conduct this analysis

Objective 13.1

Other Correlation Analyses

Similar to multiple regression except that

the criterion variable is categorical

Typically used to predict group

membership

High or low anxiety

Achievers or non-achievers

Objective 13.2

Other Correlation Analyses

Cannonical correlation

An extension of multiple regression in which more

than one predictor variable and more than one

criterion variable are used

Factor analysis

A correlational analysis used to take a large

number of variables and group them into a smaller

number of clusters of similar variables called

factors

Objectives 13.3 & 13.4

A Checklist of Questions

Was the correct correlation coefficient

used?

Is the validity and reliability of the

instruments acceptable?

Is there a restricted range of scores?

How large is the sample?

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