The first step in the process is to identify a problem or develop a research question. The research problem may be something the agency identifies as a problem, some knowledge or information that is needed by the agency, or the desire to identify aRecreation trend nationally. In the example in table 2.4, the problem that the agency has identified is childhood obesity, which is a local problem and concern within the community. This serves as the focus of the study.
Step 2: Review the Literature
Now that the problem has been identified, the researcher must learn more about the topic under investigation. To do this, the researcher must review the literature related to the research problem. This step provides foundational knowledge about the problem area. The review of literature also educates the researcher about what studies have been conducted in the past, how these studies were conducted, and the conclusions in the problem area. In the obesity study, the review of literature enables the programmer to discover horrifying statistics related to the long-term effects of childhood obesity in terms of health issues, death rates, and projected medical costs. In addition, the programmer finds several articles and information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that describe the benefits of walking 10,000 steps a day. The information discovered during this step helps the programmer fully understand the magnitude of the problem, recognize the future consequences of obesity, and identify a strategy to combat obesity (i.e., walking). Step 3: Clarify the Problem
Many times the initial problem identified in the first step of the process is too large or broad in scope. In step 3 of the process, the researcher clarifies the problem and narrows the scope of the study. This can only be done after the literature has been reviewed. The knowledge gained through the review of literature guides the researcher in clarifying and narrowing the research project. In the example, the programmer has identified childhood obesity as the problem and the purpose of the study. This topic is very broad and could be studied based on genetics, family environment, diet, exercise, self-confidence, leisure activities, or health issues. All of these areas cannot be investigated in a single study; therefore, the problem and purpose of the study must be more clearly defined. The programmer has decided that the purpose of the study is to determine if walking 10,000 steps a day for three days a week will improve the individual’s health. This purpose is more narrowly focused and researchable than the original problem. Step 4: Clearly Define Terms and Concepts
Terms and concepts are words or phrases used in the purpose statement of the study or the description of the study. These items need to be specifically defined as they apply to the study. Terms or concepts often have different definitions depending on who is reading the study. To minimize confusion about what the terms and phrases mean, the researcher must specifically define them for the study. In the obesity study, the concept of “individual’s health” can be defined in hundreds of ways, such as physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health. For this study, the individual’s health is defined as physical health. The concept of physical health may also be defined and measured in many ways. In this case, the programmer decides to more narrowly define “individual health” to refer to the areas of weight, percentage of body fat, and cholesterol. By defining the terms or concepts more narrowly, the scope of the study is more manageable for the programmer, making it easier to collect the necessary data for the study. This also makes the concepts more understandable to the reader. Step 5: Define the Population
Research projects can focus on a specific group of people, facilities, park development, employee evaluations, programs, financial status, marketing efforts, or...