Selection and
Formulation of Research
Problem
One
of the most difficult phases of a research project
is the choice of a suitable problem (true/false)
A
researcher can be compared to an ant, which brings
its single grain of sand to the anthill (true/false)
Great
discoveries usually happen by accident or sheer
luck (true/false)
Researchers
(true/false)
are specialists rather than generalists
Rifle vs. Shotgun Analogy
Behavioral Researchers…
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Analyze limited aspects of broad problems
Q: Why can’t we afford to do more than this?
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Learn more and more about less and less
until we know everything about nothing?
Question
What are some of the obstacles which may
discourage a person from undertaking
research?
Why choosing a topic is a real
challenge?
Beginners possess real problem
awareness
Where do you see problems that
can ignite your mind to think
about research?
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Classroom
School
Community
Own teaching experiences
Classroom lectures
Class discussions
Seminars/workshops/paper presentations
Internet
Out-of-class exchanges of ideas with fellow students and professors
Reading assignments
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Textbooks
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Special assignments
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Research reports
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Term papers
Consultation with…
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Course instructor
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Advisor
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Major Professor
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Faculty member
Number ONE Requirement…
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You need to have an inquisitive and
imaginative mind
You need a Questioning attitude
Wonder why?
Answer the following
preliminary questions…
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Is the problem/topic significant enough?
Is it feasible (practical/possible for me to do
it)?
Is it free of unknown hazards/dangers?
Is it clear (unambiguous)?
Actively involve yourself (and
other experts) in NARROWING &
REFINEMENT of the problem
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Narrowing the focus
Population
Situation (time, condition, subject availability,
researcher’s readiness, resources available,
etc.)
Measurements
Issue(s) dealt with?
Setting the scope of the problem (“this is my
line…I won’t go beyond it…”)
Note:
There are times when it is appropriate to
replicate (repeat) a study to verify its
conclusions or to extend the validity of its
findings to a different situation or population
Characteristics of good
topics?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Interesting – keeps the researcher interested in it throughout the
research process
Researchable – can be investigated through the collection and
analysis of data
Significant – contributes to the improvement and understanding
of educational theory and practice
Manageable – fits the level of researcher’s level of research
skills, needed resources, and time restrictions
Ethical – does not embarrass or harm participants
The following research topics are either faulty, too
broad, or completely inappropriate. Revise each
so that it reflects the characteristics of a good
research topic
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Causes of aggression and violence
Remembering and forgetting
Improving Memory
The effects of stressful environments on
health and social interaction
The effect of early childhood experiences on
later development
Best ways to treat depression
Reducing prejudice and inter-group conflict
Examples of good research problems
(in the form of questions)
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Does client-centered therapy produce more satisfaction in clients than
traditional therapy? (experimental design)
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Does behavior modification reduce aggression in autistic children? (singlesubject experimental design)
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Are the descriptions of people in social studies discussions biased?
(grounded theory design)
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What goes on in an elementary school classroom during an average week?
(ethnographic design)
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Do teachers behave differently toward students of different genders?
(causal-comparative design)
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How do parents feel about the school counseling program? (survey design)
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How can a principal improve faculty morale? (interview design)
Any problem with these
research problems?
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Is God good?
What is the best way to teach grammar?
What would life be like today if World War II
had not occurred?
Defining Terms
(e.g. : ‘humanistic classroom’)
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Constitutive definition = dictionary approach
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Clarify by example = using a model (replica/type)
and describe the characteristics of the model
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Operational definition = researcher specifies the
exact nature of meaning for using a particular
term(s)
“motivated to learn math”
(which ones are operational?)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
As shown by enthusiasm in the class
As judged by the student’s math teacher using a rating scale she
developed
As measured by the ‘math interest’ questionnaire
As shown by attention to math tasks in class
As reflected by achievement in mathematics
As indicated by records showing enrollment in mathematics
electives
As shown by effort expended in class
As demonstrated by number of optional assignments completed
As demonstrated by reading math books outside class
As observed by teacher aides using the ‘mathematics interest’
observation record
1,4,5,7, and 9
Did not specify the activities or operations
necessary for identifying the behavior
(motivation to learn mathematics)
Operationalize the following:
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Attitude toward self (self-concept)
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Creativity
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Ability to think critically
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Disruptive behavior
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Work-related stress
Your research problem
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What is your area of interest?
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Where could you look for help in deciding upon a specific
research problem?
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What criteria will you apply when deciding upon a
specific research problem?
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How could you narrow down your research problem?
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How might your value-judgments (preconceived ideas)
affect your research endeavors?
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Selection and Formulation of Research Problem