Category: Education

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Dr. H. Musenge's Lectures on Research Methods


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Research - Lay Man’s Definition::

Research - Lay Man’s Definition : Research can be defined as thinking, planning, followed by implementation of activities, aimed at finding a solution to a problem

Purpose of Research:

Purpose of Research Man reaches for truth from various sources: Custom and tradition Authority Personal experiences Reasoning from self- evident involvement Scientific enquiry Scientific enquiry: Started from 17 th Century, was strengthened by observation of events in nature and the environment and various scientific discoveries

Research: What is Research?:

Research: What is Research? A systematic, controlled, empirical and critical investigation of hypothetical prepositions about a natural phenomenon. Whereas experience is haphazard, Research is systematic, controlled and empirical Research is self correcting: Procedures and results are open to public scrutiny by fellow professionals Research searches for new knowledge

Role of Research in Education:

Role of Research in Education To seek for information To portray an accurate picture To ask and answer questions To verify old knowledge To seek explanation to problems and situations To generate new ideas, knowledge and skills To make predictions To explore new ways of doing things

Educational Research Methods:

Educational Research Methods ERMs: Involves the planning, collection of data, analyzing and interpretation of data, using scientific methods in order to solve Educational problems

7 steps in Research:

7 steps in Research Identification of the problem Formulating the hypothesis/asking a research questions, after the problem has been identified Constructing a desirable research design to show:- What to be studied Research tradition to be used What will be observed Population to be studied Sample to be used How sample will be drawn 4 . Data collection : States how data shall be collected Data analysis: Defines how data shall be analyzed and tools to be used Interpretation of data : Demonstrates the meaning of the results ? Conclusions and recommendations: State how research results can be used to answer the research question. Recommendations should be aimed at addressing the problem. Write research report, based on research findings

Fundamental/Basic Research:

Fundamental/Basic Research Is related to application of research findings to actual problems in areas considered to be the concern of people, other than the investigator Usually leads to knowledge for knowledge's sake. Usually carried out in a laboratory or some other sterile environment Usually with no immediate application

Applied Research:

Applied Research Has similarities to fundamental or basic research, but its purpose is mainly to improve a product or a process. Most educational research(ER) test the theoretical concept in an actual problem situation – thus, ER is applied research and attempts to develop generalizations about teaching i.e. learning processes, instructional materials, the behavior of students and ways to modify or make improvements etc.

Role of Research in Education:

Role of Research in Education To seek information To ask and answer questions To verify old knowledge To seek explanation to problems and situations To make predictions To explore new ways of doing things

Common Research Tools:

Common Research Tools Interview : several types exist: Structured interview : Usually pre-arranged and is short and direct e.g. Answer: Yes or No. Easy for some one else to administer and answer Unstructured interview : Allows asking questions and respondent answering in their own way. It provides for greater flow of information between researcher and the subject Semi-structured interview: Provides depth for both researcher and respondent. Also provides space for additions on the schedule Questionnaire : A paper and pencil instrument that a respondent is asked to complete

Quantitative Research:

Quantitative Research Centred on quantities, measurements and numbers Implies that phenomenon information can be quantified Observation: numeric information or Data classified into numeric variables Observation: Data transformed into a data matrix Observation unit (e.g. individual/motor vehicle) occupies one row Each variable occupies one column Data matrix is starting point for analysis

Observation units(OU) and variables:

Observation units(OU) and variables Variables = observable and measurable characteristics of an OU Observation unit (research unit, research case) may be Individual Group (family, household, couple) Institution, organization, community (school, co.) Text (newspaper article, research report, novel text) Event or activity ( war, strike, revolution)

Purpose of quantitative design:

Purpose of quantitative design Puts emphasis on the use of numbers to study a phenomenon Is a useful plan for the research (from beginning to end) A programme to guide the research in planning, collecting and analyzing data and interpreting findings Specifies most adequate operations to be performed, in order to test the hypothesis Indicates a procedure by which the co-variance of the 2 variables can be proven Determines the approach and research steps

Hypothesis of the research (quantitative):

Hypothesis of the research (quantitative) Testing of the hypothesis as part of the quantitative research Some qualitative researchers may have a hypothesis, but are not tested like quantitative researchers do Define hypothesis operationally The identity of areas or variables to be studied Ensure that indicators in the variable, in the definitions or observation behavior is testable If the design is a survey, research is expected to state objectives or purpose of the study Researcher expected to inform readers what is the likely outcomes of the study (+ or -)

Quantitative Research Cont’:

Quantitative Research Cont’ Strengths: Enables description of social structures and processes (not directly observable) Well suited for comparisons between groups, areas etc. Suitable for description of change Change describable by magnitude (number, percentage etc.) Ideal for analysis and explanation of (causal) dependencies between social phenomena

Quantitative Research Cont’:

Quantitative Research Cont’ Weaknesses : Simplifies a complex reality Applicable only for measurable (quantifiable) phenomena Presumes extensive knowledge on the subject (to ask correct questions) Difficult to study processes or “dynamic’’ phenomena- may produce static view of the reality Description of actors’ perspectives and meanings not easy

Qualitative Research:

Qualitative Research Testing and numbers are not the central part of the study. Concerned with: What exits/happens in society? (descriptive research) Focuses on: Why it exits /happens? (explanatory research) Whereas quantities can be used in qualitative design, they are not at the centre of the study Qualitative research is mostly concerned with the identification of themes, categories and questions of the study

Qualitative Research Cont’ :

Qualitative Research Cont’ Is more interested in understanding the social aspects of people in a natural context. The overall objective is …. achieving an understanding of how people make sense out of their lives. A set of logical steps taken to answer a research question Often called a’’ blue print pattern’’- recipe for the study Determines methods used to obtain subjects, collect data, analyze data and interpret results Often chosen to fit purposes of the assignment and researcher Ideal if design suits available resources

Unique features of qualitative research:

Unique features of qualitative research Research Plan : puts emphasis on peoples’ spoken and written words General plan influenced by exigencies of the field Responds to emerging matters in the field Not rigid, like the plan for quantitative research Literature review : Is on going, even during data analysis and report writing Research required to obtain more data (the critical triangulation) Not rigid, like quantitative research (literature review finishes early)

Similarities with Quantitative Research:

Similarities with Quantitative Research While qualitative and quantitative research differ, they have some similarities. These include: asking questions Identifying research site Data analysis Answering of the research question(s)

Research questions:

Research questions Hypothesis – a big question or task needing answers Other questions : depend on tradition of qualitative research undertaken Examples: If study is guided by phenomenon, Research question will centre on experiences of participants in the research If guided by grounded theory, question shall be related to the process, or study of peoples experiences Tends to dwell on issues of study Evoking emotional involvement (matters are practical and close to people).

Types of questions:

Types of questions May be divided into major and minor questions Thus, an overarching and subsidiary question is possible Open – ended and non- directional questions Gives space for respondent to express himself/herself Easier for researcher to ask supplementary questions Examples of extra question what happens to victims of defilement? What are the major themes of discussion at the University that could become sources of anger?

Data Collection:

Data Collection Use qualitative approach Ask questions, but sit back, listen and take notes Constitute a forum for discussion, gives order to the process Focus Group Discussion (FGD) often used- instant triangulation of data Constitution of the group Introduction of topic and mission by researcher Moderation of discussion by researcher Recording by assistant, if possible

Data Analysis:

Data Analysis Use multiple levels of abstraction Identify multiple themes that can be combined into large themes or categories Groups or themes could give meaning to findings Organize objective- related contents, to provide clarity to the findings Post-coding only feasible after data is arranged into themes/categories Different from quantitative data where pre-coding is feasible Often described as – by Theme and Content analysis

No. of Chapters:

No. of Chapters More chapters 7 – 8 than traditional research reports (5) i.e. the latter confirming to a rigid structure guidance to Guided by basic assumption e.g. knowledge is in the meaning people make of it; knowledge is gained through people talking about their experiences Knowledge is laced with personal biases and values Knowledge is written in a personal, up close way knowledge evolves and emerges (Creswell, 1998) Thus, contrasts with tables, %s, frequencies and numbers over-emphasized in quantitative research

The Research Process:

The Research Process

Group activity :

Group activity List the 7 steps in research and highlight the importance of each one of them Gives 5 differences between qualitative research and quantitative research List 5 common research tools, including their usefulness


RESEARCH PROPOSAL WRITING Is a scheme of things to be done in a specific period of time A proposal, whether research or business is import Defines the area of study and manner of data to be collected Findings from a proposal are important – could help to change the status for a community or country or countries Often, information from a proposal helps to improve the standard of living of people in a particular area It is important that the proposal should be clear and specific

Outline of Research Proposal:

Outline of Research Proposal Has 3 main components/ chapters Introduction Outlines the subject/topic Brings out the problem Indicates the significance of the study 2 . Literature Review Brings out, what is done and known by other researchers on the subject Defines gaps on the subject and areas of focus for the study 3 . Methodology Road map and blue print to the study Determines activities and how they shall be executed 4 . References/ Annexes Presents a list of quoted/cited literature Presents questionnaires to be used, work plan to be followed and budget of the study


OVERVIEW A proposal is a document which details an intended activity e.g. a research or a project It is a contract in that, once accepted by an institution or a funding agency, the writer of the proposal is obliged to follow the steps outlined in the proposal. The institution or the funding agency also has an obligation to honour the terms of contract. Thus, a proposal demonstrates the researcher’s ability to think clearly about the intended research or project. A proposal should be a straightforward document, uncluttered with extraneous and irrelevant information. Proposals should also be clearly organized, simple and presented in a logical manner.

Research Proposal cont’:

Research Proposal cont’ A research proposal may be an academic proposal, leading to a Masters degree or a Ph.D. The various chapters/sections that go into an academic research proposal are generally the ones most institutions will require. Other research proposals may not be academically-oriented, but are still aimed at undertaking research to solve problems, i.e. action oriented research. Most components found in an academic research proposal would also be relevant to non- academic research.

Components of a research proposal:

Components of a research proposal Overview There are many chapters/sections of a proposal which are considered mandatory and which should be included regardless of one’s discipline. These are: An introductory chapter W hich includes the background to the problem, the purpose, objectives and justification of the study. A literature review chapter where the researcher reviews literature related to the topic under investigation. A methodology chapter which includes the description of the research design, population, sample and sampling techniques, data collection procedures and methods of analysis. A time schedule I n which the researcher explains the time period needed to carry out the research.


I ntroduction(1) There are subsections - normally included but do not have to be included depending on the topic under investigation. These are limitations, assumptions, hypotheses and theoretical or conceptual frameworks. Example A researcher might find that there is no adequate information to enable him formulate the hypothesis. Though most studies will have some limitations, it is possible for one to write a very comprehensive proposal without presenting any limitations.

Introduction Cont’:

Introduction Cont’ Some research areas may be so unexplored that no theories have been formulated to guide the researcher, or the literature is too scarce to enable the researcher to formulate a conceptual framework. The components described above mainly refer to a quantitative research proposal However these major components still apply to a qualitative research proposal as well What differs is the description of the methodology section, where qualitative as opposed to quantitative research methods are emphasized .

Summary of Introduction:

Summary of Introduction Gives an overview of the proposal and its contents States factors instigating the proposal of the research Presents purpose and importance of the study States projected limitations to the study Defines common terms used in the study/report Examples: 1.1 Background The CSO(CSO, 2000) states that …… :There are many widows in Zambia According to existing records, there are 245, 394 widows and 53,388 widowers .


Abstract A proposal abstract is usually a one paragraph summary of what the researcher intends to do. It should be brief, precise and to the point. An abstract gives the reader an overview of what the problem is and how the researcher intends to solve the problem through the proposed research.

Introduction components:

Introduction components A very important component of a proposal. A well written introduction tells a lot about what is to follow in the rest of the proposal. Introduction should include: The background , the statement of the problem , the purpose of the study , the objectives or the research questions, hypothesis (if formulated), the rationale or justification of the study, the limitations and underlying assumptions (if any), the theoretical framework or conceptual model , wherever possible, and theoretical definition of terms.

The background to the problem:

The background to the problem In this section, the researcher should broadly introduce the topic under investigation. This is where a global, regional and national overview of the research topic is briefly discussed. For example : if the research topic is Female Education in Zambia, the research should give an overview of the status of female education globally, regionally (i.e. in Africa) and nationally (i.e. the Zambian experience). Background enables the reader to have an idea of what is happening regarding the area under investigation.

Statement of the problem:

Statement of the problem After the background to the problem, the researcher narrows down the focus and states the problem under investigation. In this section the researcher states the problem under investigation e.g. “High Drop-out rates among female pupils in primary schools”. In addition, the researcher describes factors that make the stated problem a critical issue to warrant the study. In other words, the researcher makes a case for the research. In the above example, the researcher could elaborate on the consequences of girls dropping out of school e.g. early marriages, high unemployment levels among women. The researcher may also refer to relevant literature whilst describing the issues related to the problem under investigation. However, the problem statement should be brief and precise. Only very relevant issues should be briefly discussed under this section, since these can be elaborated upon under literature review. The problem statement should range from half a paragraph to two paragraphs.

The purpose of the study:

The purpose of the study A broad statement indicating what the researcher intends to do about the problem being investigated. There are two formats for writing the purpose of the study. One is to state the purpose of the study at the end of the problem statement section. In such a case, the researcher writes: “…based on the problem stated, the purpose of this study is to…..”. In this format, the researcher states the problem, and narrows down to the purpose statement towards the end of the section. The purpose statement is declarative and uses verbs to describe the intended tasks. In a second format, a researcher could decide to have a separate sub-section on the purpose statement. It comes immediately after the statement of the problem.

The purpose of the study Cont’ :

The purpose of the study Cont’ A brief statement of what the research intends to study Stating clearly what the researcher wants to find out about the problem Main objective is to set the basis for finding a solution(s) to the problem Amplifies on the statement of the problem Helps the researcher to focus on the problem to be studied Example 1: The purpose of this study is to investigate and establish facts, to determine the impact of settlement schemes on poverty reduction, food security and contributions to the development of the district.

Objectives of the study:

Objectives of the study The objectives should be stated clearly and they should be testable and more specific. Objectives are derived from the purpose. Objectives are crucial because they determine: The kind of questions which will be asked The data collection and analysis procedures to be used. Objectives should therefore be clear, unambiguous and brief.

Research questions:

Research questions These are questions which a researcher would like answered by undertaking the study. The difference between research questions and objectives is that a research question is stated in a question form and an objective is a statement. So if the research questions and objectives are referring to the same phenomenon, then one set becomes redundant. In such a case only one set should be included in the study


Hypotheses A hypothesis may be directional (if a positive or negative relationship is suggested) or non-directional (if no direction is suggested). Information on the direction of a hypothesis is derived from past experience, literature review or existing theories. Some researchers may not include hypotheses in their proposals simply because the study is exploratory.

Hypothesis /Research Question Cont’:

Hypothesis /Research Question Cont’ Example 1: Working women usually have malnourished children because they do not have much time to attend to their children How can one prove this hypothesis right or wrong? Example 2: Formulating research questions (qualitative) Main questions are formulated, relevant to the problem Sub-questions are also formulated, related to the study

Rationale or justification (significance) of the study:

Rationale or justification (significance) of the study Highlights the reasons for conducting the study as well as the importance of carrying it out. Often addresses questions like: What gaps in knowledge will the study address? Why is the study important? The section on significance addresses questions like: How will the results be used? Who will benefit from the results? What is the expected end product? Is the study worth it? Rationale /justification and significance must be strong enough to warrant the use of time, energy, money and emotional involvement in carrying out the research.

Assumptions of the study:

Assumptions of the study An assumption is any important fact, presumed to be true but not actually verified. Stating assumptions helps the researcher to justify the study Also helps the understanding of research findings.

Limitations to the study:

Limitations to the study A limitation is some aspect of the study that the researcher knows may negatively affect the results or generalizability of the results, Usually, researcher has no control over limitations. Most common limitations have to do with sample size, length of the study, or data collection procedures or financial resources. The researcher should be very honest while stating limitations so that the readers can make intelligent deductions from the results. Therefore, researchers should never hesitate to state a limitation - no study is so perfect that it lacks limitations.


LITERATURE REVIEW (2) Another very important part of a proposal because: It enables the researcher to know what has been done in that particular field of study. Makes one aware of what achievements have been made and what challenges remain. Gives good suggestions on the variables and procedures that could be used. The literature review should lead logically to objectives and hypotheses of the study. A short introductory paragraph should be included at the beginning of the literature review section. A researcher should not only report findings from other researchers and scholars An analysis of the information must be done to reveal the gaps that need attention and also to show how the existing literature ties in with objectives of the proposed study.


METHODOLOGY (3) The methodology is the roadmap of the research Indicates the initial steps to the final activities Components of Methodology mainly includes: Research design Choice of study site Population of study area Sample population Data collection, procedures, techniques, instruments Data analysis Ethical considerations Limitations to study

Research Design:

Research Design Is a blue print of research approach Shows type of research being conducted Survey, descriptive, experimental or combination Indicates tools for data collection Questionnaires Interviews Records review Observations Important to briefly point out why the chosen design is appropriate for the proposed study.

Elements of Research Design:

Elements of Research Design Descriptive, survey, explanatory? Number of measurements? Prospective or retrospective? Target population and research observation units? Need for generalizations? Method of data collection Comparisons: good research design enables explanations that do not contradict theory/hypothesis Defines logical structure of research and data

Choice of study area:

Choice of study area State choice of study area Explain why the area has been chosen Need for good reasons for choosing a site Chosen area should provide adequate information on the topic E.g. Study on impact of using unsterile instruments in male circumcision.” Propose 2 correct Provinces and why? Propose 3 wrong Provinces and why?

Study Population:

Study Population After choosing study area (district or province), state the appropriate population Constitutes population from which sample will be drawn If study is on settlers, state No. of settlers in the study district If studying on female teachers in the district state No. of female teachers in the district If studying on Toyota Corollas, state population of Toyota Corollas in the district(s) If studying behavior of villagers, focus on a number of villages and indicate the number of villagers in those study villages

Sample and Sample size:

Sample and Sample size Sample is the representative of the population e.g. A sample of 200 lecturers drawn from all the public universities constitutes the sample. Carefully determine sample size i.e. from the selected population State composition of sample including age and sex(?)or model or make(?) Sample should adequately represent the stated population Normally, 5% of population is representative enough Indicate if other sample will be used, besides the main sample E.g. besides 70 settlers, data was also collected from DACO, 2 Agric-officers and 2 extension officers(I Rs), Besides teachers and pupils, who else can provide useful information on a school-related problem?

Sampling procedure:

Sampling procedure State how respondents were accessed in the population Was it by random sampling and, if so why? Was it by non-probability purposeful sampling and why? Was it by convenience sampling and why? After accessing respondents, how was the data actually collected from them? Was it through questionnaires Was it through interviews Was it through Focus Group Discussions Was data also collected by Records review? Observations?

Instruments for data collection:

Instruments for data collection State tools/instruments used for data collection If questionnaires used, what type; open-ended or closed questions? For questionnaires, are they self-administered or not? Interviews: Is it one on one or not? For Focus Group Discussions – Explain format of FGD guide; implementation and data collection Were some questionnaires sent by post, fax, email or not? How were completed instruments collected? Were completed tools collected after checking and clarifications or not?

Methods for obtaining data:

Methods for obtaining data Survey research (all require a structured questionnaire, where each observation unit is posed with the exact same questions E-mail questionnaire survey Internet polls Face-to-face interviews Telephone interviews Systematic observations Text analysis Statistical data review (secondary analysis) Register data

Focus Group Discussions (FGDs):

Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) What factors are important in constituting a FGD? (No., Sex, Age) Who drives the discussion in FGD and why? Who records proceedings of a FGD? Describe constitution of your FGD What is the value of FGD in research ? How does FGD data differ from data collected from individuals ? Does FGD add value to collected data ?

Data analysis:

Data analysis Describe the techniques intended for use in analyzing data. In most cases, more than one method of analysis is used. The method of analysis depends on the type of research, the objectives and inferential statistics. Descriptive statistics summarize data and describe the sample, and inferential statistics enable the researcher to infer the sample results to the population. Types of data analysis Quantitative data: How was it organized, how was it analysized? Manually using descriptive statistics, total, % or frequencies? Was a programme used(e.g. SPSS) Qualitative data: How was it organized, how was it analyzed? Was it by category, theme and content? Describe how you will post-code and analyze your data. Will you use one or both techniques and why?

Ethical principles in obtaining data :

Ethical principles in obtaining data No harm may be done to the participants(health, publicity etc.) Informed consent- freely given Anonymity- names, status, problems should not be revealed Confidentiality requirement Human rights


References Every proposal should have a list of cited references or bibliography. This list will show the sources of the literature reviewed. The bibliography should be up-to-date. Confirmation that statements/ pronouncements are not yours


Appendix It is necessary to enclose a short curriculum vitae or any other document that the researcher may find important. For example, one may decide to include budget notes giving details on budget lines or any other supporting documents, which may add weight to the proposal. In cases of academic research, the data collection instruments should be included in the appendix

Time Schedule:

Time Schedule Refers to the length of the research Important component for both new and experienced researchers. In most cases, the funders have a deadline to stop funding a study and such a deadline should be adhered to. Graduate students also have a deadline to finish their work and this will guide them in formulating a time schedule. Obviously, very rarely will a researcher have a long time to conduct a study - because of money and time constraints The importance of a time schedule : It enables the researcher to assess the feasibility of conducting a study within existing time limits. It helps the researcher to stay on schedule as the research progresses.


Budget A budget is a list of items that will be required to carry out the research, and their appropriate cost. The budget should be well thought out to avoid asking too little or too much. The prices of items should be up to date and well researched to avoid over-pricing or under-pricing them.

Activity :

Activity Propose a topic for your research project, which should be of an academic nature and also related to the main field of study for your post graduate degree. Include brief statements on Statement of the problem Purpose of the study Objectives of the study Research questions / hypothesis and Significance of the study



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