Introduction to Educational
Research Chapters 1 & 2
EDU 710
Steve Gibbs
Touro University
• Forget the word Proof. Replace it with
• Will the sun come up tomorrow?
• Will 1+1=2 the next time I add it up?
Basic vs Applied Research
• Basic research is about fundamental processes, like
salivating, thinking of fruit. It’s usually
experimental and done in controlled lab
• Applied research is about practical questions in the
real world, driven by current problems
• Action research focuses on solving practitioner’s
local problems. It cyclical because problems are
rarely solved through one research study.
• Evaluation research determines the worth, merit, or
quality of an evaluation object. i.e. Is the new
teaching method working?
Action Research – solving local problems
• Brainstorm…
– What local problems could be researched?
– What problems could your projects solve?
• Does teaching to the test improve learning?
• Is all learning observable? Should all learning be
• Does administrative performance have a statistically
significant impact on classroom learning?
• Do students do better on silent activities when they
listen to music on their iPods?
• Does familiarity with CA Content Standards make one a
better teacher?
Hypothesis vs Theory
• A hypothesis attempts to answer questions by
putting forth a plausible explanation that has yet
to be rigorously tested.
• A theory, on the other hand, has already
undergone extensive testing by various scientists
and is generally accepted as being an accurate
explanation of an observation. This doesn’t mean
the theory is correct; only that current testing has
not yet been able to disprove it, and the evidence
as it is understood, appears to support it.
Hypothesis vs Theory
• A theory will often starts as a hypothesis
-- an educated guess to explain
observable phenomenon.
• The scientist will attempt to poke holes in
his or her hypothesis.
• If it survives the applied methodologies
of science, it begins to take on the
significance of a theory to the scientist.
Hypothesis vs Theory
• The next step is to
present the findings
to the scientific
community for
further, independent
testing. The more a
hypothesis is tested
and holds up, the
better accepted it
becomes as a theory
Null Hypothesis
• A hypothesis set to be nullified by your research
• When your expected hypothesis is not proven by
statistically significant correlation either positive
or negative, then the Null hypothesis IS proven.
• Hypothesis: Students with cars have lower grades
• Null hypothesis: Owning a car has no negligible
effect on students’ grades
Grounded Theory
• When one does the research and
experimenting without first reading any
literature on the subject, without studying
previous findings, and without having a clear
hypothesis to prove.
• Grounded theory research is done to give
researchers uncontaminated perspectives of
the data collected.
Hypothesis & Theory
• Brainstorm…
• What educational theories can be thrown into question?
• Why hypotheses do you hold to be true but have never
formally tested?
• Teaching grammar is a waste of time
• Technology in the elementary classroom can
be detrimental to growth and learning
• Never assign writing as punishment | 2 | 3
• Do not attach grades to behavior
Criterion of falsifiability = the
property of a statement or theory
that is capable of being refuted
by experience (Karl Popper ‘02-’94)
Rule of parsimony = the simplest
answer is often the best
Expectation theory – the
Pygmalion effect - Limited
expectations bring limited
results, high expectations lead to
exceptional results.
Any classroom examples?
Formative vs. summative Assessment
• Formative = focused on improving the
evaluation object
• Summative = focused on overall effectiveness
of evaluation object
Share examples of formative assessment.
Share examples of summative assessment.
4 Key Questions to Pose in Evaluation Research:
• 1. Did the evaluation object have its intended
impact? Did it work?
• 2. How does the evaluation object operate?
• 3. Is the evaluation object cost effective? Is
there a cheaper alternative?
• 4. How can the evaluation object be
Sources of Knowledge
• Experience = empiricism – experiments,
tests, surveys, questionnaires, interviews,
focus groups, observations, secondary data
• Expert Opinion = interviews, reading
research articles and books (vested interest?)
• Reasoning = Rationalism Descartes –
researchers’ evaluative skills – common
sense, logic, inductive-deductive reasoning
Reasoning – deductive and inductive
• Deductive = general to specific
• Inductive = specific to general – it’s
– Problem of Induction: the past doesn’t always
• Back to the issue of proof. Will the sun come up?
Deductive – Pygmalion has merit, let me try it on Johnny.
Inductive – Johnny gave me a problem and I gave him
detention and he behaved. I will now give all misbehaving
students detention.
Scientific Method
• Empirical observations
• Generation and testing hypotheses
– “Students who own cars have lower grades.”
– “Students who admit to playing +5 hours a week computer games have
lower/higher grades.”
– How could we account for contaminating variables?
• Building and testing theories
• Attempting to predict and influence the world
Topics that can’t be adequately researched
Value, morality – right and wrong, religion
Issues of school prayer
Capital punishment
Abstract art
– NOTE: Research can be performed to gather data,
such as incidence of abortions based on cultural
settings, frequency of school prayer, tendencies for
capital punishment to deter crime; research CANNOT
prove any of these issues to be right or wrong.
Pg 64
• Other subjects that cannot be adequately
Textbook Glossary online PDF
Quantitative and Qualitative
narrow-angle lens
cause & effect - determinism
tool perform data collection
Reality is objective
Statistical report
natural settings
wide-angle lens
behavior is fluid
Research is the data collector
Reality is socially constructed
Narrative report
Quantitative Methods
• Follows Scientific Theory
• The generation of models, theories and
• The development of instruments and methods
for measurement
• Experimental control and manipulation of
• Collection of empirical data
• Modeling and analysis of data
• Evaluation of results
Qualitative Methods
• Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth
understanding of human behavior and the reasons that
govern human behavior.
• Qualitative research investigates the why and how of
decision making, not just what, where, and when.
• Uses smaller but focused samples rather than large
random samples
• Categorizes data into narrative patterns for reporting:
(1) participation in the setting,
(2) direct observation,
(3) in depth interviews, and
(4) analysis of documents and materials
Quantitative Elements
• Variables – a condition or characteristic
that can take on different values
– Age, Intelligence, Gender, Temperature
• Constants – a single value or category of a
– Male, Female, 12-years-old, 49-years, old, IQ 130,
98.6 degrees
Quantitative vs Categorical Variables
• Quantitative Variable – varies in
degree or amount, usually involving numbers
• Categorical Variable – varies in kind or
type, usually involves groups
Annual Income
Aptitude Tests
School size
Class size
Anxiety level
College major
Political affiliation
Native language
Teaching methods
Personality types
Problem solving strategies
Variables vs. Constants
• Independent Variable – that which
influences the dependent variable
• Dependent Variable – that which is
influenced by Independent Variable – usually
the focus of the research
– Independent = owning car; Dependent = grades
– Independent = praise; Dependent = performance
– Independent = standardized test; Dependent = real
– Independent = educational technology; Dependent =
real learning
• Share other examples of independent and
dependent variables
Extraneous Variable
• Extraneous Variable = research
pollution = may compete with independent
variable’s influence on dependent variable.
Can result in alternative explanations or rival
hypotheses. An issue in experimental
Extraneous Variables
– Independent = owning car;
Dependent = grades
• Extraneous = Parenting, intelligence, attitude,
car, laws
– Independent = praise; Dependent =
• Extraneous = false or easy praise; amount of
praise; attitude
Extraneous Variables
– Independent = standardized test;
Dependent = real learning
• Extraneous = quality of test; faculty – student
attitudes, subject matter
– Independent = educational technology;
Dependent = real learning
• Extraneous = appropriate use; teacher skill;
selection of application
• Share extraneous variables to your previous
independent-dependent variables
Intervening Variables
• Another form of possible pollution
• A variable that comes between indep/depend
in their causal chain X  Y; X  I  Y
• X = test, I = familiarity with test, Y = retest
• X = test, I = growth of participant, Y = retest
• X = text, I = researcher change, Y = retest
Experimental and non-experimental research (both
quant, & qual.)
• Experimental = manipulates independent variable;
uses random assignment to control group & controlled
• Quasi-Experimental = does not provide full control
of confounding variables because it does not randomly
assign participants
• Non-experimental = no manipulation of independent
variable. Simply observes what transpires (quan or qual)
• Causal-comparative research = type of nonexperimental research that studies categorical
independent variables like gender, religion and qualitative
dependent variables like test scores or self-esteem levels.
Experimental and non-experimental research (both
quant, & qual.)
• Correlational research
= non-experimental
method that studies relationships between two
or more quantitative variables such as class
size and reading scores.
Correlation coefficient = +1 0 -1 Do the two
objects increase together (positive correlation)
like GPA and SAT scores, or do they push in
opposite directions (negative correlation) such as
malnutrition and performance level.
Qualitative Research
• Ethnography
= Writing about People
• Shared attitudes, values, norms, practices,
language and material things of a group of
Qualitative Research
• Holistic
= how members make a group. The
group is more than the sum of the parts.
• Does not dissect the frog to learn about
frogs; it observes frogs in their ponds
Qualitative Research
• Historical
– examines the trends in
education over the years; examines the
changes in culture and careers; examines
impacts of various reform policies
• Ex: How has technology integration
changed in BUSD schools since the
inception of the PC in the 1980s and the
Internet in 1992
Quantitative Research
Multi-method research
• Recommended that serious topics are
approached in a variety of ways. This allows
for full coverage and future meta-analysis.
Other Forms of Research
Individual case-study
Group case study
Developmental over time
Action – direct application of hypothesis,
theory in the classroom
• Gonzo – You make it happen. You are the
Independent Variable (Hunter S. Thompson)
Johnson, B, & Christensen, L. (2000). Educational Research:
Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches. Needham Heights,
MA: Pearson Education Company.
Isaac, S., & Michael, W. (1987). Handbook in Research and
Evaluation.San Diego, CA: EdITS Publishers.
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Pygmalion Effect
• The Pygmalion effect, Rosenthal effect, or
more commonly known as the "teacherexpectancy effect" refers to situations in
which students perform better than other
students simply because they are expected to
do so. The Pygmalion effect requires a student
to internalise the expectations of their
Pygmalion Effect
• It is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, and in
this respect, students with poor expectations
internalise their negative label, and those with
positive labels succeed accordingly. Within
sociology, the effect is often cited with regards
to education and social class.
Literary Origins
• The effect is named after George Bernard
Shaw's play Pygmalion, (My Fair Lady) in
which a professor makes a bet that he can
teach a poor flower girl to speak and act like
an upper-class lady, and is successful.

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