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Answered: - Descriptive Questions and Hypotheses Consider the central

Descriptive Questions and Hypotheses

Consider the central theme from your Problem Statement, which you have now explored and refined through a Literature Review, Introduction, and Purpose Statement. Although your work to this point may have guided you toward a particular research method or approach, there is still value in examining your topic from a variety of perspectives. Toward that end, one useful exercise involves returning to the triumvirate of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches and creating hypotheses and descriptive questions accordingly.

Refer to Chapter 7 of your course text, Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, which includes templates you can use to create research questions of each type, as well as examples and criteria related to directional, nondirectional, and null hypotheses. Use these resources to help you create research questions and hypotheses related to your evolving topic and for one quantitative section, one qualitative section, and one mixed methods section. After each section of your Application, be sure to note your rationale for each choice and how each fits the criteria and paradigmatic thinking related to the approach.

I have included the Problem Statement that is linked to completing this assignment. Please see attached:

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and Hypotheses






nvestigators place signposts to carry the reader through a plan for a


study. The first signpost is the purpose statement, which establishes the


central direction for the study. From the broad, general purpose statement, the researcher narrows the focus to specific questions to be


answered or predictions based on hypotheses to be tested. This chapter


begins by advancing several principles in designing and scripts for


writing qualitative research questions; quantitative research questions,


objectives, and hypotheses; and mixed methods research questions.





In a qualitative study, inquirers state research questions, not objectives


(i.e., specific goals for the research) or hypotheses (i.e., predictions that involve


variables and statistical tests). These research questions assume two forms:


a central question and associated subquestions.


The central question is a broad question that asks for an exploration


of the central phenomenon or concept in a study. The inquirer poses this


question, consistent with the emerging methodology of qualitative


research, as a general issue so as to not limit the inquiry. To arrive at this


question, ask, ?What is the broadest question that I can ask in the study??


Beginning researchers trained in quantitative research might struggle with


this approach because they are accustomed to the reverse approach: identifying specific, narrow questions or hypotheses based on a few variables.


In qualitative research, the intent is to explore the complex set of factors


surrounding the central phenomenon and present the varied perspectives


or meanings that participants hold. The following are guidelines for writing broad, qualitative research questions:


? Ask one or two central questions followed by no more than five to seven subquestions. Several subquestions follow each general central question; the






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subquestions narrow the focus of the study but leave open the questioning.


This approach is well within the limits set by Miles and Huberman (1994),


who recommended that researchers write no more than a dozen qualitative


research questions in all (central and subquestions). The subquestions, in


turn, can become specific questions used during interviews (or in observing


or when looking at documents). In developing an interview protocol or


guide, the researcher might ask an ice breaker question at the beginning,


for example, followed by five or so subquestions in the study (see Chapter 9).


The interview would then end with an additional wrap-up or summary


question or ask, as I did in one of my qualitative case studies, ?Who should


I turn to, to learn more about this topic?? (Asmussen & Creswell, 1995).


? Relate the central question to the specific qualitative strategy of inquiry.


For example, the specificity of the questions in ethnography at this stage of


the design differs from that in other qualitative strategies. In ethnographic


research, Spradley (1980) advanced a taxonomy of ethnographic questions


that included a mini-tour of the culture-sharing group, their experiences, use


of native language, contrasts with other cultural groups, and questions to verify the accuracy of the data. In critical ethnography, the research questions


may build on a body of existing literature. These questions become working


guidelines rather than truths to be proven (Thomas, 1993, p. 35). Alternatively,


in phenomenology, the questions might be broadly stated without specific reference to the existing literature or a typology of questions. Moustakas (1994)


talks about asking what the participants experienced and the contexts or situations in which they experienced it. A phenomenological example is, ?What


is it like for a mother to live with a teenage child who is dying of cancer??


(Nieswiadomy, 1993, p. 151). In grounded theory, the questions may be


directed toward generating a theory of some process, such as the exploration


of a process as to how caregivers and patients interact in a hospital setting. In


a qualitative case study, the questions may address a description of the case


and the themes that emerge from studying it.


? Begin the research questions with the words what or how to convey an


open and emerging design. The word why often implies that the researcher is


trying to explain why something occurs, and this suggests to me a causeand-effect type of thinking that I associate with quantitative research instead


of the more open and emerging stance of qualitative research.


? Focus on a single phenomenon or concept. As a study develops over


time, factors will emerge that may influence this single phenomenon, but


begin a study with a single focus to explore in great detail.


? Use exploratory verbs that convey the language of emerging design.


These verbs tell the reader that the study will



? Discover (e.g., grounded theory)


? Seek to understand (e.g., ethnography)



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? Explore a process (e.g., case study)


? Describe the experiences (e.g., phenomenology)


? Report the stories (e.g., narrative research)


? Use these more exploratory verbs that are nondirectional rather


than directional words that suggest quantitative research, such as ?affect,?


?influence,? ?impact,? ?determine,? ?cause,? and ?relate.?


? Expect the research questions to evolve and change during the study


in a manner consistent with the assumptions of an emerging design. Often


in qualitative studies, the questions are under continual review and reformulation (as in a grounded theory study). This approach may be problematic for individuals accustomed to quantitative designs, in which the


research questions remain fixed throughout the study.


? Use open-ended questions without reference to the literature or theory



unless otherwise indicated by a qualitative strategy of inquiry.


? Specify the participants and the research site for the study, if the infor-



mation has not yet been given.


Here is a script for a qualitative central question:


_________ (How or what) is the _________ (?story for? for narrative


research; ?meaning of ? the phenomenon for phenomenology; ?theory that explains the process of ? for grounded theory; ?culture-sharing


pattern? for ethnography; ?issue? in the ?case? for case study) of


_________ (central phenomenon) for _________ (participants) at


_________ (research site).


The following are examples of qualitative research questions drawn from


several types of strategies.



Example 7.1



A Qualitative Central Question From an Ethnography



Finders (1996) used ethnographic procedures to document the reading of teen


magazines by middle-class European American seventh-grade girls. By examining the reading of teen zines (magazines), the researcher explored how the


girls perceive and construct their social roles and relationships as they enter


junior high school. She asked one guiding central question in her study:


How do early adolescent females read literature that falls outside the realm


of fiction?


(Finders, 1996, p. 72)






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Finders?s (1996) central question begins with how; it uses an openended verb, read; it focuses on a single concept, the literature or teen


magazines; and it mentions the participants, adolescent females, as the


culture-sharing group. Notice how the author crafted a concise, single


question that needed to be answered in the study. It is a broad question


stated to permit participants to share diverse perspectives about reading


the literature.



Example 7.2



Qualitative Central Questions From a Case Study



Padula and Miller (1999) conducted a multiple case study that described the


experiences of women who went back to school, after a time away, in a psychology doctoral program at a major Midwestern research university. The


intent was to document the women?s experiences, providing a gendered and


feminist perspective for women in the literature. The authors asked three central questions that guided the inquiry:


(a) How do women in a psychology doctoral program describe their decision to return to school? (b) How do women in a psychology doctoral program describe their reentry experiences? And (c) How does returning to


graduate school change these women?s lives?


(Padula & Miller, 1999, p. 328)



These three central questions all begin with the word how; they include


open-ended verbs, such as ?describe,? and they focus on three aspects of


the doctoral experience?returning to school, reentering, and changing.


They also mention the participants as women in a doctoral program at a


Midwestern research university.





In quantitative studies, investigators use quantitative research questions


and hypotheses, and sometimes objectives, to shape and specifically focus


the purpose of the study. Quantitative research questions inquire


about the relationships among variables that the investigator seeks to


know. They are used frequently in social science research and especially in


survey studies. Quantitative hypotheses, on the other hand, are predictions the researcher makes about the expected relationships among variables. They are numeric estimates of population values based on data


collected from samples. Testing of hypotheses employs statistical procedures in which the investigator draws inferences about the population



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from a study sample. Hypotheses are used often in experiments in which


investigators compare groups. Advisers often recommend their use in a


formal research project, such as a dissertation or thesis, as a means of stating the direction a study will take. Objectives, on the other hand, indicate


the goals or objectives for a study. They often appear in proposals for funding, but tend to be used with less frequency in social and health science


research today. Because of this, the focus here will be on research questions and hypotheses. Here is an example of a script for a quantitative


research question:


Does _________ (name the theory) explain the relationship between


_________ (independent variable) and _________ (dependent variable), controlling for the effects of _________ (control variable)?


Alternatively, a script for a quantitative null hypothesis might be as




There is no significant difference between _________ (the control


and experimental groups on the independent variable) on _________


(dependent variable).


Guidelines for writing good quantitative research questions and


hypotheses include the following.


? The use of variables in research questions or hypotheses is typically


limited to three basic approaches. The researcher may compare groups


on an independent variable to see its impact on a dependent variable.


Alternatively, the investigator may relate one or more independent variables to one or more dependent variables. Third, the researcher may


describe responses to the independent, mediating, or dependent variables.


Most quantitative research falls into one or more of these three categories.


? The most rigorous form of quantitative research follows from a test


of a theory (see Chapter 3) and the specification of research questions or


hypotheses that are included in the theory.


? The independent and dependent variables must be measured separately. This procedure reinforces the cause-and-effect logic of quantitative




? To eliminate redundancy, write only research questions or hypotheses, not both, unless the hypotheses build on the research questions (discussion follows). Choose the form based on tradition, recommendations


from an adviser or faculty committee, or whether past research indicates a


prediction about outcomes.






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? If hypotheses are used, there are two forms: null and alternative. A



null hypothesis represents the traditional approach: it makes a prediction that in the general population, no relationship or no significant difference exists between groups on a variable. The wording is, ?There is no


difference (or relationship)? between the groups. The following example


illustrates a null hypothesis.



Example 7.3



A Null Hypothesis



An investigator might examine three types of reinforcement for children with


autism: verbal cues, a reward, and no reinforcement. The investigator collects


behavioral measures assessing social interaction of the children with their


siblings. A null hypothesis might read,


There is no significant difference between the effects of verbal cues,


rewards, and no reinforcement in terms of social interaction for children with


autism and their siblings.



? The second form, popular in journal articles, is the alternative or



directional hypothesis. The investigator makes a prediction about the


expected outcome, basing this prediction on prior literature and studies on


the topic that suggest a potential outcome. For example, the researcher


may predict that ?Scores will be higher for Group A than for Group B? on


the dependent variable or that ?Group A will change more than Group B?


on the outcome. These examples illustrate a directional hypothesis because


an expected prediction (e.g., higher, more change) is made. The following


illustrates a directional hypothesis.



Example 7.4



Directional Hypotheses



Mascarenhas (1989) studied the differences between types of ownership


(state-owned, publicly traded, and private) of firms in the offshore drilling


industry. Specifically, the study explored such differences as domestic market


dominance, international presence, and customer orientation. The study was


a controlled field study using quasi-experimental procedures.


Hypothesis 1: Publicly traded firms will have higher growth rates than privately held firms.


Hypothesis 2: Publicly traded enterprises will have a larger international


scope than state-owned and privately held firms.



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Hypothesis 3: State-owned firms will have a greater share of the domestic


market than publicly traded or privately held firms.


Hypothesis 4: Publicly traded firms will have broader product lines than stateowned and privately held firms.


Hypothesis 5: State-owned firms are more likely to have state-owned enterprises as customers overseas.


Hypothesis 6: State-owned firms will have a higher customer-base stability


than privately held firms.


Hypothesis 7: In less visible contexts, publicly traded firms will employ more


advanced technology than state-owned and privately held firms.


(Mascarenhas, 1989, pp. 585?588)



? Another type of alternative hypothesis is nondirectional?a prediction is made, but the exact form of differences (e.g., higher, lower, more,


less) is not specified because the researcher does not know what can be


predicted from past literature. Thus, the investigator might write, ?There is


a difference? between the two groups. An example follows which incorporates both types of hypotheses:



Example 7.5



Nondirectional and Directional Hypotheses



Sometimes directional hypotheses are created to examine the relationship


among variables rather than to compare groups. For example, Moore (2000)


studied the meaning of gender identity for religious and secular Jewish and


Arab women in Israeli society. In a national probability sample of Jewish and


Arab women, the author identified three hypotheses for study. The first is


nondirectional and the last two are directional.


H1: Gender identity of religious and secular Arab and Jewish women are related


to different sociopolitical social orders that reflect the different value systems


they embrace.


H2: Religious women with salient gender identity are less socio-politically active


than secular women with salient gender identities.


H3: The relationships among gender identity, religiosity, and social actions are


weaker among Arab women than among Jewish women.






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? Unless the study intentionally employs demographic variables as pre-



dictors, use nondemographic variables (i.e., attitudes or behaviors) as independent and dependent variables. Because quantitative studies attempt to


verify theories, demographic variables (e.g., age, income level, educational


level, and so forth) typically enter these models as intervening (or mediating or moderating) variables instead of major independent variables.


? Use the same pattern of word order in the questions or hypotheses to


enable a reader to easily identify the major variables. This calls for repeating key phrases and positioning the variables with the independent first


and concluding with the dependent in left-to-right order (as discussed in


Chapter 6 on good purpose statements). An example of word order with


independent variables stated first in the phrase follows.



Example 7.6



Standard Use of Language in Hypotheses



1. There is no relationship between utilization of ancillary support services


and academic persistence for non-traditional-aged women college students.


2. There is no relationship between family support systems and academic


persistence for non-traditional-aged college women.


3. There is no relationship between ancillary support services and family


support systems for non-traditional-aged college women.



A Model for Descriptive Questions and Hypotheses


Consider a model for writing questions or hypotheses based on writing


descriptive questions (describing something) followed by inferential questions


or hypotheses (drawing inferences from a sample to a population). These questions or hypotheses include both independent and dependent variables. In this


model, the writer specifies descriptive questions for each independent and


dependent variable and important intervening or moderating variables.


Inferential questions (or hypotheses) that relate variables or compare groups


follow these descriptive questions. A final set of questions may add inferential


questions or hypotheses in which variables are controlled.



Example 7.7



Descriptive and Inferential Questions



To illustrate this approach, a researcher wants to examine the relationship of


critical thinking skills (an independent variable measured on an instrument)



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to student achievement (a dependent variable measured by grades) in science


classes for eighth-grade students in a large metropolitan school district. The


researcher controls for the intervening effects of prior grades in science


classes and parents? educational attainment. Following the proposed model,


the research questions might be written as follows:


Descriptive Questions


1. How do the students rate on critical thinking skills? (A descriptive question focused on the independent variable)


2. What are the student?s achievement levels (or grades) in science


classes? (A descriptive question focused on the dependent variable)


3. What are the student?s prior grades in science classes? (A descriptive


question focused on the control variable of prior grades)


4. What is the educational attainment of the parents of the eighthgraders? (A descriptive question focused on another control variable,


educational attainment of parents)


Inferential Questions


1. Does critical thinking ability relate to student achievement? (An inferential question relating the independent and the dependent variables)


2. Does critical thinking ability relate to student achievement, controlling


for the effects of prior grades in science and the educational attainment


of the eighth-graders? parents? (An inferential question relating the


independent and the dependent variables, controlling for the effects of


the two controlled variables)



This example illustrates how to organize all the research questions into


descriptive and inferential questions. In another example, a researcher


may want to compare groups, and the language may change to reflect this


comparison in the inferential questions. In other studies, many more independent and dependent variables may be present in the model being tested,


and a longer list of descriptive and inferential questions would result. I recommend this descriptive?inferential model.


This example also illustrates the use of variables to describe as well as


relate. It specifies the independent variables in the first position in the questions, the dependent in the second, and the control variables in the third.


It employs demographics as controls rather than central variables in the


questions, and a reader needs to assume that the questions flow from a


theoretical model.






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In discussions about methods, researchers typically do not see specific


questions or hypotheses especially tailored to mixed methods research.


However, discussion has begun concerning the use of mixed methods


questions in studies and also how to design them (see Creswell & Plano


Clark, 2007; Tashakkori & Creswell, 2007). A strong mixed methods


study should start with a mixed methods research question, to shape the


methods and the overall design of a study. Because a mixed methods


study relies on neither quantitative or qualitative research alone, some


combination of the two provides the best information for the research


questions and hypotheses. To be considered are what types of questions


should be presented and when and what information is most needed to


convey the nature of the study:


? Both qualitative and quantitative research questions (or hypotheses)


need to be advanced in a mixed methods study in order to narrow and


focus the purpose statement. These questions or hypotheses can be


advanced at the beginning or when they emerge during a later phase of


the research. For example, if the study begins with a quantitative phase,


the investigator might introduce hypotheses. Later in the study, when the


qualitative phase is addressed, the qualitative research questions appear.


? When writing these questions or hypotheses, follow the guidelines in



this chapter for scripting good questions or hypotheses.


? Some attention should be given to the order of the research questions and hypotheses. In a two-phase project, the first-phase questions


would come first, followed by the second-phase questions so that readers


see them in the order in which they will be addressed in the proposed study.


In a single-phase strategy of inquiry, the questions might be ordered


according to the method that is given the most weight in the design.


? Include a mixed methods research question that directly


addresses the mixing of the quantitative and qualitative strands of the


research. This is the question that will be answered in the study based on


the mixing (see Creswell & Plano Clark, 2007). This is a new form of question in research methods, and Tashakkori and Creswell (2007, p. 208)


call it a ?hybrid? or ?integrated? question. This question could either be


written at the beginning or when it emerges; for instance, in a two-phase


study in which one phase builds on the other, the mixed methods questions might be placed in a discussion between the two phases. This can


assume one of two forms. The first is to write it in a way that conveys


the methods or procedures in a study (e.g., Does the qualitative data help


explain the results from the initial quantitative phase of the study? See



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Creswell & Plano Clark, 2007). The second form is to write it in a way


that conveys the content of the study (e.g., Does the theme of social support help to explain why some students become bullies in schools? (see


Tashakkori & Creswell, 2007.)


? Consider several different ways that all types of research questions


(i.e., quantitative, qualitative, and mixed) can be written into a mixed


methods study:



? Write separate quantitative questions or hypotheses and qualitative questions. These could be written at the beginning of a study


or when they appear in the project if the study unfolds in stages or


phases. With this approach, the emphasis is placed on the two


approaches and not on the mixed methods or integrative component of the study.


? Write separate quantitative questions or hypotheses...


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