Education is an integral aspect of every society and in a bid to expand the frontiers of knowledge, educational research must become a priority. Educational research plays a vital role in the overall development of pedagogy, learning programs, and policy formulation.
Educational research is a spectrum that bothers on multiple fields of knowledge and this means that it draws from different disciplines. As a result of this, the findings of this research are multi-dimensional and can be restricted by the characteristics of the research participants and the research environment.
Educational research is a type of systematic investigation that applies empirical methods to solving challenges in education. It adopts rigorous and well-defined scientific processes in order to gather and analyze data for problem-solving and knowledge advancement.
J. W. Best defines educational research as that activity that is directed towards the development of a science of behavior in educational situations. The ultimate aim of such a science is to provide knowledge that will permit the educator to achieve his goals through the most effective methods.
The primary purpose of educational research is to expand the existing body of knowledge by providing solutions to different problems in pedagogy while improving teaching and learning practices. Educational researchers also seek answers to questions bothering on learner motivation, development, and classroom management.
While educational research can take numerous forms and approaches, several characteristics define its process and approach. Some of them are listed below:
In this type of educational research, the researcher merely seeks to collect data with regards to the status quo or present situation of things. The core of descriptive research lies in defining the state and characteristics of the research subject being understudied.
Because of its emphasis on the “what” of the situation, descriptive research can be termed an observational research method. In descriptive educational research, the researcher makes use of quantitative research methods including surveys and questionnaires to gather the required data.
Typically, descriptive educational research is the first step in solving a specific problem. Here are a few examples of descriptive research:
From these examples, you would notice that the researcher does not need to create a simulation of the natural environment of the research subjects; rather, he or she observes them as they engage in their routines. Also, the researcher is not concerned with creating a causal relationship between the research variables.
This is a type of educational research that seeks insights into the statistical relationship between two research variables. In correlational research, the researcher studies two variables intending to establish a connection between them.
Correlational research can be positive, negative, or non-existent. Positive correlation occurs when an increase in variable A leads to an increase in variable B, while negative correlation occurs when an increase in variable A results in a decrease in variable B.
When a change in any of the variables does not trigger a succeeding change in the other, then the correlation is non-existent. Also, in correlational educational research, the research does not need to alter the natural environment of the variables; that is, there is no need for external conditioning.
Examples of educational correlational research include:
Experimental educational research is a research approach that seeks to establish the causal relationship between two variables in the research environment. It adopts quantitative research methods in order to determine the cause and effect in terms of the research variables being studied.
Experimental educational research typically involves two groups – the control group and the experimental group. The researcher introduces some changes to the experimental group such as a change in environment or a catalyst, while the control group is left in its natural state.
The introduction of these catalysts allows the researcher to determine the causative factor(s) in the experiment. At the core of experimental educational research lies the formulation of a hypothesis and so, the overall research design relies on statistical analysis to approve or disprove this hypothesis.
Examples of Experimental Educational Research
Based on functionality, educational research can be classified into fundamental research, applied research, and action research. The primary purpose of fundamental research is to provide insights into the research variables; that is, to gain more knowledge. Fundamental research does not solve any specific problems.
Just as the name suggests, applied research is a research approach that seeks to solve specific problems. Findings from applied research are useful in solving practical challenges in the educational sector such as improving teaching methods, modifying learning curricula, and simplifying pedagogy.
Action research is tailored to solve immediate problems that are specific to a context such as educational challenges in a local primary school. The goal of action research is to proffer solutions that work in this context and to solve general or universal challenges in the educational sector.
A survey is a research method that is used to collect data from a predetermined audience about a specific research context. It usually consists of a set of standardized questions that help you to gain insights into the experiences, thoughts, and behaviors of the audience.
Surveys can be administered physically using paper forms, face-to-face conversations, telephone conversations, or online forms. Online forms are easier to administer because they help you to collect accurate data and to also reach a larger sample size. Creating your online survey on data-gathering platforms like Formplus allows you to.also analyze survey respondent’s data easily.
In order to gather accurate data via your survey, you must first identify the research context and the research subjects that would make up your data sample size. Next, you need to choose an online survey tool like Formplus to help you create and administer your survey with little or no hassles.
An interview is a qualitative data collection method that helps you to gather information from respondents by asking questions in a conversation. It is typically a face-to-face conversation with the research subjects in order to gather insights that will prove useful to the specific research context.
Interviews can be structured, semi-structured, or unstructured. A structured interview is a type of interview that follows a premeditated sequence; that is, it makes use of a set of standardized questions to gather information from the research subjects.
An unstructured interview is a type of interview that is fluid; that is, it is non-directive. During a structured interview, the researcher does not make use of a set of predetermined questions rather, he or she spontaneously asks questions to gather relevant data from the respondents.
A semi-structured interview is the mid-point between structured and unstructured interviews. Here, the researcher makes use of a set of standardized questions yet, he or she still makes inquiries outside these premeditated questions as dedicated by the flow of the conversations in the research context.
Data from Interviews can be collected using audio recorders, digital cameras, surveys, and questionnaires.
Observation is a method of data collection that entails systematically selecting, watching, listening, reading, touching, and recording behaviors and characteristics of living beings, objects, or phenomena. In the classroom, teachers can adopt this method to understand students’ behaviors in different contexts.
Observation can be qualitative or quantitative in approach. In quantitative observation, the researcher aims at collecting statistical information from respondents and in qualitative information, the researcher aims at collecting qualitative data from respondents.
Qualitative observation can further be classified into participant or non-participant observation. In participant observation, the researcher becomes a part of the research environment and interacts with the research subjects to gather info about their behaviors. In non-participant observation, the researcher does not actively take part in the research environment; that is, he or she is a passive observer.
Like other types of research, educational research involves several steps. Following these steps allows the researcher to gather objective information and arrive at valid findings that are useful to the research context.
Educational research is crucial to the overall advancement of different fields of study and learning, as a whole. Data in educational research can be gathered via surveys and questionnaires, observation methods, or interviews – structured, unstructured, and semi-structured.
You can create a survey/questionnaire for educational research with Formplus. As a top-tier data tool, Formplus makes it easy for you to create your educational research survey in the drag-and-drop form builder, and share this with survey respondents using one or more of the form sharing options.
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