Course: Research Methods in Education (8604)
Level: B.Ed 1.5 Years
Semester: Autumn 2019
ASSIGNMENT No. 1
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Q.1. Discuss the different methods used as a tool of acquiring knowledge. Compare
the various steps in the scientific method with steps in research process.
Take a minute to ponder some of what you know and how you acquired that knowledge.
Perhaps you know that you should make your bed in the morning because your mother or
father told you this is what you should do, perhaps you know that swans are white because
all of the swans you have seen are white, or perhaps you know that your friend is lying to
you because she is acting strange and won’t look you in the eye. But should we trust
knowledge from these sources? The methods of acquiring knowledge can be broken down
into five categories each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
The first method of knowing is intuition. When we use our intuition, we are relying on our
guts, our emotions, and/or our instincts to guide us. Rather than examining facts or using
rational thought, intuition involves believing what feels true. The problem with relying on
intuition is that our intuitions can be wrong because they are driven by cognitive and
motivational biases rather than logical reasoning or scientific evidence. While the strange
behavior of your friend may lead you to think s/he is lying to you it may just be that s/he is
holding in a bit of gas or is preoccupied with some other issue that is irrelevant to you.
However, weighing alternatives and thinking of all the different possibilities can be
paralyzing for some people and sometimes decisions based on intuition are actually
superior to those based on analysis (people interested in this idea should read Malcolm
Gladwell’s book Blink)[1.
Perhaps one of the most common methods of acquiring knowledge is through authority.
This method involves accepting new ideas because some authority figure states that they
are true. These authorities include parents, the media, doctors, Priests and other religious
authorities, the government, and professors. While in an ideal world we should be able to
trust authority figures, history has taught us otherwise and many instances of atrocities
against humanity are a consequence of people unquestioningly following authority (e.g.,
Salem Witch Trials, Nazi War Crimes). On a more benign level, while your parents may have
told you that you should make your bed in the morning, making your bed provides the
warm damp environment in which mites thrive. Keeping the sheets open provides a less
hospitable environment for mites. These examples illustrate that the problem with using
authority to obtain knowledge is that they may be wrong, they may just be using their
intuition to arrive at their conclusions, and they may have their own reasons to mislead you.
Nevertheless, much of the information we acquire is through authority because we don’t
have time to question and independently research every piece of knowledge we learn
through authority. But we can learn to evaluate the credentials of authority figures, to
evaluate the methods they used to arrive at their conclusions, and evaluate whether they
have any reasons to mislead us.
Rationalism involves using logic and reasoning to acquire new knowledge. Using this
method premises are stated and logical rules are followed to arrive at sound conclusions.
For instance, if I am given the premise that all swans are white and the premise that this is a
swan then I can come to the rational conclusion that this swan is white without actually
seeing the swan. The problem with this method is that if the premises are wrong or there is
an error in logic then the conclusion will not be valid. For instance, the premise that all
swans are white is incorrect; there are black swans in Australia. Also, unless formally trained
in the rules of logic it is easy to make an error. Nevertheless, if the premises are correct and
logical rules are followed appropriately then this is sound means of acquiring knowledge.
Empiricism involves acquiring knowledge through observation and experience. Once again
many of you may have believed that all swans are white because you have only ever
seen white swans. For centuries people believed the world is flat because it appears to be
flat. These examples and the many visual illusions that trick our senses illustrate the
problems with relying on empiricism alone to derive knowledge. We are limited in what we
can experience and observe and our senses can deceive us. Moreover, our prior experiences
can alter the way we perceive events. Nevertheless, empiricism is at the heart of the
scientific method. Science relies on observations. But not just any observations, science
relies on structured observations which is known as systematic empiricism.
THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD
The scientific method is a process of systematically collecting and evaluating evidence to
test ideas and answer questions. While scientists may use intuition, authority, rationalism,
and empiricism to generate new ideas they don’t stop there. Scientists go a step further by
using systematic empiricism to make careful observations under various controlled
conditions in order to test their ideas and they use rationalism to arrive at valid conclusions.
While the scientific method is the most likely of all of the methods to produce valid
knowledge, like all methods of acquiring knowledge it also has its drawbacks. One major
problem is that it is not always feasible to use the scientific method; this method can require
considerable time and resources. Another problem with the scientific method is that it
cannot be used to answer all questions. As described in the following section, the scientific
method can only be used to address empirical questions. This book and your research
methods course are designed to provide you with an in-depth examination of how
psychologists use the scientific method to advance our understanding of human behavior
and the mind.
Scientific Method Steps
The exact steps of the scientific method vary from source to source, but the general
procedure is the same: acquiring knowledge through observation and testing.
Making an Observation
The first step of the scientific method is to make an observation about the world around
you. Before hypotheses can be made or experiments can be done, one must first notice and
think about some sort of phenomena occurring. The scientific method is used when one
does not know why/how something is occurring and wants to uncover the answer, but
before one can even question an occurrence, they must notice something puzzling in the
Asking a Question
Next, one must ask a question based on their observations, such as: why/how is this thing
occurring? Why/how does it happen this way? Sometimes this step is listed first in the
scientific method, with making an observation (and researching the phenomena in
question) listed as second. In reality, both making observations and asking questions tend
to happen around the same time, as one can see a confusing occurrence and immediately
think, “why is it occurring?” When observations are being made and questions are being
formed, it is important to do research to see if others have already answered the question, or
uncovered information that may help you shape your question. For example, if you find an answer
to why something is occurring, you may want to go a step further and figure out how it occurs.
Forming a Hypothesis
A hypothesis is an educated guess to explain the phenomena occurring based on prior
observations. It answers the question posed in the previous step. Hypotheses can be
specific or more general depending on the question being asked, but all hypotheses must
be testable by gathering evidence that can be measured. If a hypothesis is not testable, then
it is impossible to perform an experiment to determine whether the hypothesis is supported
In epistemology, a common concern with respect to knowledge is what sources of
information are capable of giving knowledge.
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Q.2. Describe different types of research categorized on the basis of method used
and the purpose of research?
Research can be classified in many different ways on the basis of the methodology of
research, the knowledge it creates, the user group, the research problem it investigates etc.
This research is conducted largely for the enhancement of knowledge, and is research which
does not have immediate commercial potential. The research which is done for human
welfare, animal welfare and plant kingdom welfare. It is called basic, pure, fundamental
research. The main motivation here is to expand man’s knowledge, not to create or invent
something. According to Travers, “Basic Research is designed to add to an organized body
of scientific knowledge and does not necessarily produce results of immediate practical
value.” Such a research is time and cost intensive. (Example: A experimental research that
may not be or will be helpful in the human progress.)
Applied research is designed to solve practical problems of the modern world, rather than
to acquire knowledge for knowledge’s sake. The goal of applied research is to improve the
human condition. It focuses on analysis and solving social and real life problems. This
research is generally conducted on a large scale basis and is expensive. As such, it is often
conducted with the support of some financing agency like the national government, public
corporation, world bank, UNICEF, UGC, Etc. According to Hunt, “applied research is an
investigation for ways of using scientific knowledge to solve practical problems” for
example:- improve agriculture crop production, treat or cure a specific disease, improve the
energy efficiency of homes, offices, how can communication among workers in large
companies be improved..
Problem oriented research
Research is done by industry apex body for sorting out problems faced by all the
companies. Eg:- WTO does problem oriented research for developing countries, in India
agriculture and processed food export development authority (APEDA) conduct regular
research for the benefit of agri-industry.
• As the name indicates, Problem identifying researches are undertaken to know the exact
nature of problem that is required to be solved.
• Here, one clarification is needed when we use the term ‘Problem’, it is not a problem in
true sense. It is usually a decision making dilemma or it is a need to tackle a particular
• It could be a difficulty or an opportunity.
For e.g.:-Revenue of Mobile company has decreased by 25% in the last year. The cause of
the problem can be any one of the following:
• Poor quality of the product. • Lack of continuous availability. • Not so effective advertising
campaign. • High price. • Poor calibre / lack of motivation in sales people/marketing team. •
Tough competition from imported brands. • Depressed economic conditions
• In the same case, suppose the prime cause of problem is poor advertising campaign &
secondary cause is higher pricing. • To tackle the problem of poor advertising, we have to
answer questions like, what can be the new advertising campaign, who can be the brand
ambassador, which media, which channel, at what time & during which programme
advertisements will be broadcast.
This type of research is done by an individual company for the problem faced by it.
Marketing research and market research are the applied research. For eg:- videocon
international conducts research to study customer satisfaction level, it will be problem
solving research. In short, the main aim of problem solving research is to discover some
solution for some pressing practical problem.
This research is based on numeric figures or numbers. Quantitative research aim to measure
the quantity or amount and compares it with past records and tries to project for future
period. In social sciences, “quantitative research refers to the systematic empirical
investigation of quantitative properties and phenomena and their relationships”. The
objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories
or hypothesis pertaining to phenomena. The process of measurement is central to
quantitative research because it provides fundamental connection between empirical
observation and mathematical expression of quantitative relationships. Statistics is the most
widely used branch of mathematics in quantitative research. Statistical methods are used
extensively with in fields such as economics and commerce. In sum, the research using the
normative approach conducts why may be called quantative research as the inferences from
it are largely based on quantative data. Moreover, objectivity is the primary guard so that
the research may be replicated by others, if necessary.
Qualitative research presents non-quantitative type of analysis. Qualitative research is
collecting, analyzing and interpreting data by observing what people do and say. Qualitative
research refers to the meanings, definitions, characteristics, symbols, metaphors, and
description of things. Qualitative research is much more subjective and uses very different
methods of collecting information,mainly individual, in-depth interviews and focus groups.
The nature of this type of research is exploratory and open ended. Small number of people
are interviewed in depth and or a relatively small number of focus groups are conducted.
Qualitative research can be further classified in the following type.
I. Phenomenology:-a form of research in which the researcher attempts to understand how
one or more individuals experience a phenomenon. Eg:-we might interview 20 victims of
II. Ethnography:- this type of research focuses on describing the culture of a group of
people. A culture is the shared attributes, values, norms, practices, language, and material
things of a group of people. Eg:-the researcher might decide to go and live with the tribal in
Andaman island and study the culture and the educational practices.
III. Case study:-is a form of qualitative research that is focused on providing a detailed
account of one or more cases. Eg:-we may study a classroom that was given a new
curriculum for technology use.
IV. Grounded theory:- it is an inductive type of research,based or grounded in the
observations of data from which it was developed; it uses a variety of data sources,
including quantitative data, review of records, interviews, observation and surveys
V. Historical research:-it allows one to discuss past and present events in the context of the
present condition, and allows one to reflect and provide possible answers to current issues
and problems. Eg:-the lending pattern of business in the 19th century.
In addition to the above, we also have the descriptive research. Fundamental research, of
which this is based on establishing various theories
Purpose of research:
The purpose of research can be a complicated issue and varies across different scientific
fields and disciplines. At the most basic level, science can be split, loosely, into two types,
‘pure research’ and ‘applied research’.
Both of these types follow the same structures and protocols for propagating and testing
hypotheses and predictions, but vary slightly in their ultimate purpose.
An excellent example for illustrating the difference is by using pure and applied
mathematics. Pure maths is concerned with understanding underlying abstract principles
and describing them with elegant theories. Applied maths, by contrast, uses these equations
to explain real life phenomena, such as mechanics, ecology and gravity.
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Q.3. Discuss the concept of educational research. Also examine the need and
importance of research in education.
Educational research refers to the systematic collection and analysis of data related to the
field of education. Research may involve a variety of methods. Research may involve various
aspects of education including student learning, teaching methods, teacher training, and
Educational researchers generally agree that research should be rigorous and systematic.
However, there is less agreement about specific standards, criteria and research procedures.
Educational researchers may draw upon a variety of disciplines. These disciplines include
psychology, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy. Methods may be drawn from a range
of disciplines. Conclusions drawn from an individual research study may be limited by the
characteristics of the participants who were studied and the conditions under which the
study was conducted.
Educational research refers to a variety of methods,in which individuals evaluate different
aspects of education including: “student learning, teaching methods, teacher training, and
Educational researchers have come to the consensus that, educational research must be
conducted in a rigorous and systematic way, although what this implies is often debated.
There are a variety of disciplines which are each present to some degree in educational
research. These include psychology, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy. The overlap
in disciplines creates a broad range from which methodology can be drawn. The findings of
educational research also need to be interpreted within the context in which they were
discovered as they may not be applicable in every time or place.
Need and importance of research in education:
Research has both a cultural and an instrumental role to play in informing education practice
While research in almost all fields aim to approach “truth,” there is no single cookbook
approach that can guarantee this outcome. Broadly, research is a process of testing our
ideas. Education research is a form of social science research that aims to test ideas about
education policy and practice. Social science research is characterised much the same as
research in the pure sciences.
Research in all fields is based upon the same principles: the search for universalism (general
principles); organisation (to conceptualise related ideas); scepticism (questioning
assumptions and looking for alternative explanations); and communalism (a community that
shares norms and principles for doing research; Merton, 1973).
However, social science research, and education research specifically, is different to science
research in its context and scope. By the nature of the contexts that social scientists
investigate, the questions that they pose, the methodologies that are use to collect
evidence, and the forms of evidence that are collected, the evidence must be analysed and
interpreted differently to that in the physical or natural sciences.
Like research in the physical sciences, education researchers pose significant questions that
can be investigated empirically, link research with relevant theory, and use methods that
permit direct investigation of the questions.
Like other social sciences, education research plays both an instrumental role in the
generation of strategies, techniques, practices, and other means for achieving ends, and
a cultural role in the provision of different frameworks for understanding and imagining
social realities. Such frameworks can help teachers to develop different understandings of
their practice, and to see and imagine their practice differently. The examination of practice
through different lenses allows us to understand problems in new ways, or to see new
problems we hadn’t anticipated (Biesta suggests feminist theory as an example of how
cultural research can unveil problems not previously recognised, and help us toward
resolution). These two roles, the cultural and the technical or instrumental, are
distinguishable, but not easily separable, as they mutually inform and reinforce each other.
If there is too much of either, education research risks losing relevance.
Education research is also different to other forms of social science research such as
psychology research. Education researchers pose questions about education policy and
practice. They inquire about policy and practice at all levels of the education systems we
operate, from the individual student and teachers, to classrooms and schools and school
systems. They make predictions about what the impacts of policies and practices are or
might be and why, what teachers are teaching and how what the outcomes of various
practices might be in particular contexts and for particular students. Education researchers
build on earlier work, challenging, re-examining, and extending ideas about what education
is and can do, which and how educational strategies and activities “work.”
Research from many other fields informs (and may be informed by) the results of education
research: for example, psychology, particularly the fields of developmental, cognitive, and
Education research methods suit the purposes of education research. Some education
research aims to test an explanatory hypothesis; some studies be exploratory, identifying
ideas for further examination; some may examine a particular case, place, event, interaction,
system, policy, learner, teacher, practice, or technology. Education research with these aims
may collect evidence, and the form and amount of evidence collected varies with the
purpose and question of the research. This is the case in other fields of research, too. This
instrumental research is balanced by cultural research that questions normative
assumptions about education, constructs new frameworks, integrates ideas into new
theories, and critically considers the normative roles, functions, practices, contexts and
values of education. Just as education, and education practices, cannot be value-free, nor
can evidence and research, in education or in any other field. Such an assumption is
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Q.4. What is an experiment and how you will conduct and an experimental research? What will be the threats to internal and external validity and how you will minimize these threats?
An experiment is a procedure carried out to support, refute, or validate a hypothesis.
Experiments provide insight into cause-and-effect by demonstrating what outcome occurs
when a particular factor is manipulated. Experiments vary greatly in goal and scale, but
always rely on repeatable procedure and logical analysis of the results. There also exists
natural experimental studies.
A child may carry out basic experiments to understand gravity, while teams of scientists may
take years of systematic investigation to advance their understanding of a phenomenon.
Experiments and other types of hands-on activities are very important to student learning in
the science classroom. Experiments can raise test scores and help a student become more
engaged and interested in the material they are learning, especially when used over time.
Experiments can vary from personal and informal natural comparisons (e.g. tasting a range
of chocolates to find a favorite), to highly controlled (e.g. tests requiring complex apparatus
overseen by many scientists that hope to discover information about subatomic particles).
Uses of experiments vary considerably between the natural and human sciences..
Experimental research is conducted:
The following list of steps explains the process of conducting experimental research in more
detail. Researchers should follow these steps in order to ensure the integrity of the process.
1. Select a topic. This involves simply identifying an area of interest or general subject.
2. Identify the research problem. Given the topic or subject, the researcher must
now identify specific problems or questions that relate to the subject. The researcher
may be familiar with subject and may already know the problem they want to
research. If the researcher is new to the topic, it may be helpful to examine literature
and previous studies, as well as talk to other researchers. The problem selected
should be important to the field and be of significance to others in the discipline.
3. Conduct a literature search. Once the research problem is identified, a literature
search should be conducted before proceeding to design the experiment. It is helpful
to know what studies have been performed, the designs, the instruments used, the
procedures and the findings. This information will guide the researcher and help
them create a project that extends or compliments existing research.
4. Construct a hypothesis. In this step, the researcher states the research question as a
hypothesis. This provides the basis for all other decisions in the process and
therefore, it is a critical step.
5. Determine the design of the research. The researcher should review the hypothesis
and verify that an experimental design is the appropriate research design needed to
answer the question. Additional information regarding different types of
experimental research design will be covered in the next module.
6. Determine the research methods. In this step, the researcher will identify and plan
the details necessary to conduct the research. This includes identifying the test
subjects, materials, data collection instruments and methods, and the procedures for
the conducting the experiment.
7. Conduct the research and test the hypothesis. The experimental procedures will
be carried out in this phase.
8. Analyze the data. Experimental research data lends itself to a variety of potential
statistical analyses. The appropriate analysis is determined by the research question
and the type of data.
9. Formulate conclusions. Review the data and determine if it confirms or disproves
This is a basic outline of the steps involved in conduction experimental. Additional modules
in this series will address these steps in more detail.
Threats to internal and external validity:
Threats to internal validity
1. Timeline: Time is of paramount importance in a research. The opinions of
respondents depend on the recall time to gather opinions.
For example, if the researcher ask the respondents about satisfaction with products at
a coffee store and where they will consume it. Then the validity of their answers will
increase. However, in case the research is conducted after a long duration then the
opinions can be biased and misleading.
2. Testing: Instances where the respondents are asked questions which is questionable
for their performance.
For example, if the employees are asked to rate satisfaction level of their customers
on different service quality parameters. They might be concerned about the findings of
the research which can put them in a disadvantageous position in the organisation.
3. Instrumentation: Effective changes in instrumentation or in the criteria of recording
behavior can be cause threats to validity.
For example, the change in cutoff points for a TOEFL exam can impact the application
process. Similarly, change in standard levels in medical laboratory tests can impact the
overall efficacy of the results.
4. Maturation: It is the changes that impact the subsequent analysis.
For example, performance of 2nd graders starts decreasing after 1 hour due to
variable factors, like fatigue, stress, tiredness etc. Thus, it is difficult to calculate the
overall performance average without bias.
5. Mortality: Most of the studies undertaken follow ethical considerations where the
respondents participate voluntarily. However, some respondents may drop out. This
will change the defined sample size. Especially studies which have long timelines face
this threat to their validity.
For example, a researcher conducting a study to determine the efficacy of protein diet
for a duration of 6 months might face problem when the test subjects drop out of the
6. Statistical regression: This threat to validity could be when sample is selected to
study extreme behaviour in respondents.
For example if a researcher needs to study consumption of mangoes. Then the threat
to validity would be when the collection of data is in a peak consumption season.
External threats to validity
1. Impact of pre-testing: Most often researchers conduct pre-tests or pilot tests to
determine efficacy of the measuring instrument. However, pre-tests might impact the
sensitivity and responsiveness to the experimental variable.
For example, researcher conduct a pre-test on a sample of 25 respondents. However
nearly 70% of responses changes when actually conducting the study ,reflecting the
impact of pre-test.
2. Effect of inclusion and exclusion criteria: Effect of selecting a sample based on
specific selection criteria. This can impact the outcomes of study which would not
have been the case, if there was random sampling.
3. Multiple experiment interference: This happens in case of test subjects who have
been exposed to same experiment multiple times. In such cases the effect of
previous findings have an impact on overall results.
4. Reactions to experimental arrangement: This is an effect of experiment because
the respondents are aware about the experiment. This is also known as Hawthorne
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Q.5. Define descriptive research, what are its major forms? Strengthen your answer
with the example of case studies, causal comparative and correlation studies.
Descriptive research is used to describe characteristics of a population or phenomenon
being studied. It does not answer questions about how/when/why the characteristics
occurred. Rather it addresses the “what” question (what are the characteristics of Minnesota
state population or situation being studied?) The characteristics used to describe the
situation or population are usually some kind of categorical scheme also known as
descriptive categories. For example, the periodic table categorizes the elements. Scientists
use knowledge about the nature of electrons, protons and neutrons to devise this
categorical scheme. We now take for granted the periodic table, yet it took descriptive
research to devise it. Descriptive research generally precedes explanatory research. For
example, over time the periodic table’s description of the elements allowed scientists to
explain chemical reaction and make sound prediction when elements were combined.
Hence, descriptive research cannot describe what caused a situation. Thus, descriptive
research cannot be used as the basis of a causal relationship, where one variable affects
another. In other words, descriptive research can be said to have a low requirement for
The description is used for frequencies, averages and other statistical calculations. Often the
best approach, prior to writing descriptive research, is to conduct a survey investigation.
Qualitative research often has the aim of description and researchers may follow-up with
examinations of why the observations exist and what the implications of the findings are.
Descriptive science is a category of science that involves descriptive research; that is,
observing, recording, describing, and classifying phenomena. Descriptive research is
sometimes contrasted with hypothesis-driven research, which is focused on testing a
particular hypothesis by means of experimentation.
David A. Grimaldi and Michael S. Engel suggest that descriptive science in biology is
currently undervalued and misunderstood:
“Descriptive” in science is a pejorative, almost always preceded by “merely,” and typically
applied to the array of classical -ologies and -omies: anatomy, archaeology, astronomy,
embryology, morphology, paleontology, taxonomy, botany, cartography, stratigraphy, and
the various disciplines of zoology, to name a few. […] First, an organism, object, or substance
is not described in a vacuum, but rather in comparison with other organisms, objects, and
substances. […] Second, descriptive science is not necessarily low-tech science, and high
tech is not necessarily better. […] Finally, a theory is only as good as what it explains and the
evidence (i.e., descriptions) that supports it.
A negative attitude by scientists toward descriptive science is not limited to biological
disciplines: Lord Rutherford’s notorious quote, “All science is either physics or stamp
collecting,” displays a clear negative attitude about descriptive science, and it is known that
he was dismissive of astronomy, which at the beginning of the 20th century was still
gathering largely descriptive data about stars, nebulae, and galaxies, and was only
beginning to develop a satisfactory integration of these observations within the framework
of physical law, a cornerstone of the philosophy of physics.
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