1.1 Why do we conduct research?

Question 1.1

Research usually starts with a question. In many cases there is a principal who puts a question to a researcher and has the financial means to let a researcher conduct the research. Furthermore, researchers at universities also have specific questions that they would like to be answered; therefore they conduct all types of research. There are two main types: descriptive and evaluative research.

Usually in educational research it is about describing opinions and other characteristics of persons or to determine the value of an intervention. Studentsí characteristics are described, for example information about studentsí backgrounds: their social background, repeating a class, participation in special education, achievement scores and behavioural observations. A researcher can put this information in a table or figure and point out possible changes in outcomes during a certain period. Descriptive research outlines and presents data in a clear and understandable way.

Evaluative research identifies, for example, the value of a new educational program, a new learning method, an educational course for parents, or a literacy course for adults. We would like to determine if the new educational programs or interventions are implemented according to the ideas of the innovators and whether they have showed the expected effects.

Example

A large primary school has the plan to purchase a new remedial mathematics program for students who are not good at mathematical figures. The school would first like to know whether the new program leads to better results than the old program.

A pedagogy student will research this and report this in his or her thesis. The student asks the teachers of grade 5 to point out the students who have difficulties with mathematical figures. She then divides these students into two groups: one will use the old program and the other will work with the new program. The student will conduct the remedial lessons in both groups him or herself. Furthermore, the student makes sure that in both groups there are as many boys as girls. After two months the results of both groups are compared using a mathematical figure test.

Question 1.1

Do you think that the student can answer the question of the school by conducting her research? Give arguments.

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