Teacher Response to Homework #2

Grades on Blackboard, as per the norm.

Below is some stuff to think about.

Variables often emerge after a pilot

The reason we’re doing pilots in this class, as opposed to full-blown studies, is that pilots, or pilot-like activities, are often essential to defining variables. It’s often hard, when designing a study plan, to figure out what exactly you’re measuring, and there are typically a lot of different variables floating around in your study that you could use. The choice often comes down to what you are most interested in, and what you want to zero in on.

Best practices are important, too

That being said, what you decide to zero in on, and how you decide to collect data, should come from best practices within your field. As you are learning, research design is a complex activity, so the best way to do it well is to look to the successful research designs of others. Don’t ┬átry to invent in a vacuum, because if you do, chances are your design will not be as good as it could have been.

Here are just a few things to watch out for:

  • The specific way you deploy a particular method. What are best practices for deploying this particular method and how are you responding to those best practices?
  • The variables you end up choosing, as compared to the variables of other researchers. If you’re studying variables that have never been studied before, chances are you are actually studying concepts, and have yet to define actual variables. The best way to avoid this is to mine other studies for variables.
  • The theory you’re using and how it is used within your specific field. Theories are some of the most politicized elements of research design. They come in and out of fashion, are deployed differently in different fields, and are often deployed poorly. To avoid this, look to researchers studying similar things and what theories they’re using. Avoid taking a theory from a completely different context and jamming it into your study because it’s something you’re familiar with.

Looking forward to seeing the study plans!

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