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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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CHAPTER SEVEN

 


 

Research Questions

 

and Hypotheses

 


 

I

 


 

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.

 


 

QUALITATIVE 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.

 


 

QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES

 

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

 

follows:

 

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

 

research.

 

? 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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MIXED METHODS RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES

 

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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