Educational Research: Some Basic Concepts and Terminology

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Quantitative research methods in educational planning
Series editor: Kenneth N.Ross

Module
T. Neville Postlethwaite Institute of Comparative Education University of Hamburg

Educational research: some basic concepts and terminology

1

UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning

Quantitative research methods in educational planning
These modules were prepared by IIEP staff and consultants to be used in training workshops presented for the National Research Coordinators who are responsible for the educational policy research programme conducted by the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ). The publication is available from the following two Internet Websites: http://www.sacmeq.org and http://www.unesco.org/iiep.

International Institute for Educational Planning/UNESCO 7-9 rue Eugène-Delacroix, 75116 Paris, France Tel: (33 1) 45 03 77 00 Fax: (33 1 ) 40 72 83 66 e-mail: information@iiep.unesco.org IIEP web site: http://www.unesco.org/iiep

September 2005 © UNESCO

The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout the publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning its frontiers or boundaries. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means: electronic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without permission in writing from UNESCO (International Institute for Educational Planning).

Graphic design: Sabine Lebeau Typesetting: Sabine Lebeau Printed in IIEP’s printshop

Module 1

Educational research: some basic concepts and terminology

Content
1. Introduction 2. Types of educational research 3. Three types of research questions in educational planning Descriptive questions Correlational questions Causal questions

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6 8 9

4. Identifying research issues for educational planning 5. Sequential stages in the research process General and specific research questions Literature review Research design Instrumentation Pilot testing Data collection Data analysis Research report

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16 16 17 18 20 22 24 28

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Module 1

Educational research: some basic concepts and terminology

6. Conclusion Appendix A Terminology used in educational research Formative and summative evaluation Assessment, evaluation, and research Measurement Surveys and experiments Tests 1. Test items 2. Sub-scores/Domain scores

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31 33 33 34 36
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Variable
1. 1. Types of variables Validity

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Validity and reliability
2. Reliability

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Indicator Attitude scales

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Appendix B Further reading suggestions
Introductory texts Examples of educational research studies that aimed to have an impact on educational planning Encyclopedias and handbooks Journals

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46 47 48 48

Appendix C Exercises

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II

Introduction
Research is the orderly investigation of a subject matter for the purpose of adding to knowledge. Research can mean ‘re-search’ implying that the subject matter is already known but, for one reason or another, needs to be studied again. Alternatively, the expression can be used without a hyphen and in this case it typically means investigating a new problem or phenomenon. Within the realm of educational planning, many things are always changing: the structure of the education system, curriculum and textbooks, modes of teaching, methods of teacher training, the amount and type of provisions to schools such as science laboratories, textbooks, furniture, classroom supplies, and so on. These changes may lead to an improvement, or a worsening, in the quality of an educational system. Sometimes they may result in no impact upon quality – in which case major government expenditures on such changes have been wasted. The...
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