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The Nature of Research

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The Nature of Research


Chapter One

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What is Research?

A systematic and organized effort to


investigate a specific problem that needs a
solution.
A series of steps designed and followed, with
the goal of finding answers to the issues that
are of concern to us in the work environment.

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How Does One Obtain Information?

People do the following to obtain information:


Consult experts
Review books and articles
Question/observe colleagues
Rely on past experience
Use intuition
Using scientific research provides another way
to obtain information

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Information is reliable and accurate


Allows an understanding of why research is valuable

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Ways of Knowing That Things Exist

Sensory Experience
Agreement/Sharing with Others
Expert Opinion
Logical Reasoning
The Scientific Method

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Ways of Knowing (Figure 1.1)

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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:

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State the problem


Define the purpose of the study
How to gather the information
How to organize and analyze the information
obtained
How the information is interpreted

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The Chaos Theory

A major principle from the 1970s that


emphasizes the rarity of general laws,
and states that if the data base is large
enough, repeated patterns can be
discovered and used, even when the
conditions are chaotic.
Even with highly complex data,
predictability exists if patterns can be
found across time.

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Types of Research

Research is the formal, systematic application of


scholarship, disciplined inquiry, and most often the Scientific
Method to the study of problems.
Research methodologies include:
Experimental research
Correlational research
Causal-comparative research
Survey research

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Ethnographic research
Historical research
Action research

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Experimental Research

Most conclusive of all scientific methods.


The researcher establishes treatments and
studies the effects, which can lead to clear
interpretations.

The independent variable: What is being tested


The dependent variable: What is the outcome
(i.e., score)

Single Subject Research is another form of


Experimental Research.

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Example of Experimental Research Results (Figure 1.2)

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Correlational Research

Examines a relationship among two or more


variables; looks for a cause and effect.
Can help make more intelligent predictions.
This approach requires no manipulation or
intervention, except to administer the
instrument.
Used when you want to look for and describe
relationships that may exist naturally.

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Is this Assumption Correct? (Figure 1.3)

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Causal-Comparative Research

Determines the cause for, or


consequences of, differences between
groups of people.
Interpretations are limited due to the fact
that the investigator can not say
conclusively whether a particular factor is
a cause for or a result of a behavior.
Differences may occur, but the investigator
will not be able to say for sure what
caused the difference.

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Survey Research

Obtains data to determine specific


characteristics of a group.
Variety of survey techniques exist, such as:

Descriptive: asks same set of questions (i.e., interview)


Open-ended questions

There are 3 difficulties involved with survey


research:

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Ensuring that questions are clear and not misleading


Getting participants to answer questions honestly
Getting enough questionnaires back so valid
interpretations can be made

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Ethnographic Research

A form of Qualitative Research


Emphasizes documenting or portraying the
everyday experiences of individuals by
observing and interviewing them in a
naturalistic setting.
Data can include descriptions, audiotapes,
video footage, flowcharts showing
relationships, etc.

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Historical Research

Another form of Qualitative Research.


Some aspect of the past is studied.
Data is collected and evaluated objectively
in order to establish whether causes,
effects, or trends of a past event may
explain present or future events or
occurrences.
The major problem with this research is the
question of using an event or time
sequence as a true outcome.

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Action Research

Differs from previously discussed


methods in two ways:
1)

Generalizations to other persons, settings,


or situations is of minimal importance

2)

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researchers focus on getting information that


will enable them to change conditions in a
particular situation (i.e., identifying methods to
improve special ed services at a school)

Subjects become active members of the


research process by collecting data, etc.

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Critical Analysis of Research

Critics raise philosophical, linguistic,


ethical, and political concerns such
as:
Question of Reality
Question of Communication
Question of Values
Question of Unstated Assumptions

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Anything taken for granted before being tested

Question of Societal Consequences

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The Research Process

The schematic components of research


are as follows:

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Statement of the problem: description of


the background and rationale for
performing the study
Hypothesis: prediction of what is expected
to occur, or relationship expected between
the variables (factors being considered)
Definitions: key terms in the problem
statement

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The Research Process


(cont.)

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Review of Literature: past or current studies


that are relevant to the study
Sample: subjects of the study
Instrumentation: what will be used to
measure or collect data
Procedures: step-by-step directions,
outlining what will occur from beginning to
end
Data Analysis: statistical procedure to
analyze and explain the data
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The Research Process (Figure 1.4)

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