Tuesday, July 27 Chapter Two Educational Research
1. Conceptual definition: (text pg. 36) uses other words and concepts to describe the variable.
The conceptual definition of attitude can be found in the dictionary as “a predisposition to respond favorably or unfavorably toward a person, object, or event”.
2. Operational definition: (text pg. 36-37) defines a concept by how it is measured or manipulated.
When using intelligence as a variable in an educational study, SAT scores provide the operational definition for the measurement.
3. Extraneous variable: (text pg. 38) affects the dependent variable but is either unknown or not controlled by the researcher.
When conducting a research study on exercise in schools, the researchers could not control the extraneous variable of student motivation that varied from school to school.
4. Confounding variable: (text pg. 38) varies systematically with the independent variable.
When conducting a research study on the success of a phonics program, researchers faced a confounding variable in that one teacher proved to be much more engaging than the other.
While I understood the basic differences between quantitative research and qualitative research before entering the Educational Inquiry class, the reading and class period today cemented some ideas in my mind and brought up new thoughts as well. A positivist approach falls in line with quantitative research as the researcher has a clear hypothesis and predicted outcome of what will occur through the research. A post-modernist approach falls in line with qualitative research, as the researcher is open to any and all possible outcomes from the work completed. It seems to me that most researchers fall in line somewhere in the middle. Or at least I hope they do.
I see real pitfalls or danger in believing too strongly in either positivism or post-modernism. If a researcher truly believes only one outcome will come out of the research, they may ignore or even manipulate factors along the way to ensure that result is reached. At the same time, a post-modernist may ignore important trends or signs if they are too open to any scenario. More importantly, they might lose sight of what caused the results if they take the “laissez-faire” approach completely. Thus I find the mixed-method research model to be the most interesting and I would imagine most effective. This requires a researcher to use both quantitative and qualitative methods. It gives a result involving hard facts, but also asks questions that may lead to more research or begin answering the “why” concerning the results.