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Chapter 1 of How to design and evaluate research in education eighth edition.

action research

A type of research focused on a specific local problem and resulting in an action plan to address the problem.

applied research

Research that seeks to solve practical problems (compare to basic research).

associational research/study

A general type of research in which a researcher looks for relationships having predictive and/or explanatory power. Both correlational and causal-comparative studies are examples.


Any important assertion presumed to be true but not actually verified; major assumptions should be described in one of the first sections of a research proposal or report.

basic research

Research that seeks to produce new knowledge or theory (compare to applied research).

causal-comparative research

Research to explore the cause for, or consequences of, existing differences in groups of individuals; also referred to as ex post facto research.

chaos theory

A theory and methodology of science that emphasizes the rarity of general laws, the need for very large data bases, and the importance of studying exceptions to overall patterns.

correlational research

Research that involves collecting data in order to determine the degree to which a relationship exists between two or more variables.

critical researchers

Researchers who raise philosophical and ethical questions about the way educational research is conducted.

data analysis

The process of simplifying data in order to make it comprehensible.

descriptive study

Research to describe existing conditions without analyzing relationships among variables.

ethnographic study

The collection of data on many variables over an extended period of time in a naturalistic setting, usually using observation and interviews.

evaluation research

A systematic attempt to assess the quality or effectiveness of an evaluation object.

experimental research

Research in which at least one independent variable is manipulated, other relevant variables are controlled, and the effect on one or more dependent variables is observed.

formative evaluation

An evaluation intended to improve the object being assessed.

historical research

The systematic collection and objective evaluation of data related to past occurrences to examine causes, effects, or trends of those events that may help explain present events and anticipate future events.


A tentative, testable assertion regarding the occurrence of certain behaviors, phenomena, or events; a prediction of study outcomes.


Any device for systematically collecting data, such as a test, a questionnaire, or an interview schedule.

intervention study

A general type of research in which variables are manipulated in order to study the effect on one or more dependent variables.

literature review

The systematic identification, location, and analysis of documents containing information related to a research problem.


A statistical procedure for combining the results of several studies on the same topic.

mixed-methods research

A study combining quantitative and qualitative methods.


The group to which the researcher would like the results of a study to be generalizable; it includes all individuals with certain specified characteristics.

problem statement

A statement that indicates the specific purpose of the research, the variables of interest to the researcher, and any specific relationship between those variables that is to be, or was, investigated; includes description of background and rationale (justification) for the study.


A detailed description by the researcher of what was (or will be) done in carrying out a study.

qualitative research

Research in which the investigator attempts to study naturally occurring phenomena in all their complexity.

quantitative research

Research in which the investigator attempts to clarify phenomena through carefully designed and controlled data collection and analysis.


The formal, systematic application of scholarship, disciplined inquiry, and most often the scientific method to the study of problems.


The group on which information is obtained.

scientific method

A way of knowing that is characterized by the public nature of its procedures and conclusions and by rigorous testing of conclusions.

single-subject research

Design applied when the sample size is one; used to study the behavior change that an individual exhibits as a result of some intervention or treatment.


Individuals whose participation in a study is limited to providing information.

summative evaluation

An evaluation that seeks to determine the overall effectiveness or usefulness of an evaluation object.

survey research

An attempt to obtain data from members of a population (or a sample) to determine the current status of that population with respect to one or more variables.


A characteristic that can assume any one of several values, for example, cognitive ability, height, aptitude, teaching method.

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