Conceptual and Theoretical Frameworks for Educational Research

October 30, 2017

Sarah Eaton blog technology researchIn my experience it is not uncommon for graduate students to struggle to figure out how to develop a conceptual or theoretical framework for their thesis or capstone project.

Here’s a list of resources that may help you do just that. I have developed this list with educational research in mind. Some of the resources are from other fields, but may have strong transferability to educational research contexts. Conversely, researchers from other fields may find the resources in this list helpful.

I have curated resources that are, in my opinion, high quality and relevant to those working in post-secondary research context. I have tried to include resources that are publicly accessible and available free of charge. I have excluded resources that seemed to be (again, in my opinion) overly brief or were being sold for profit.

Remember, if you are looking for sources to cite in your research paper or dissertation, scholarly journal articles and book chapters are often preferable to other kinds of resources because they are considered more credible. If you are just trying to wrap your head around the basics, any of these resources might help you.

Web-based resources

Clarke, R. (2011). Conceptual framework basics.   Retrieved from https://youtu.be/vxA43z4B1ao

Kesterson, T. (2013). Developing Conceptual Framework: Part 1.   Retrieved from https://youtu.be/HrbL508aG4k

Maxwell, J. A. (2005). Conceptual framework: What do you think is going on? Qualitative research design: An interactive approach (3rd. ed., pp. 39-72): Sage. Retrieved from: http://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/48274_ch_3.pdf

Metha, R. S. (2013). Theoretical and Conceptual Framework as Blue Print of a House.   Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/rsmehta/conceptual-and-theoretical-framework

Schneider, D. K. (2005). The research plan and conceptual frameworks.   Retrieved from https://tecfa.unige.ch/guides/methodo/edu-tech/slides/res-design-intro.pdf

Sitko, N. J. (2013). Designing a qualitative research project: Conceptual framework and research questions.   Retrieved from http://fsg.afre.msu.edu/zambia/Conceptual_Framework_and_Research_Questions.pdf

Thompson, C. J. (2017). How to use a theory to frame your research study.   Retrieved from https://nursingeducationexpert.com/theory-frame-research/

Scholarly journal articles and book chapters

If you cannot find these articles easily, contact your local librarian. Often librarians can help you access legitimate copies of materials free of charge if you are having difficulty finding them.

Green, H. E. (2014). Use of theoretical and conceptual frameworks in qualitative research. Nurse Researcher, 21(6), 34-38. doi:10.7748/nr.21.6.34.e1252

Imenda, S. (2014). Is There a Conceptual Difference between Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks? Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi/Journal of Social Sciences, 38(2), 185-195.

Jabareen, Y. (2009). Building a conceptual framework: Philosophy, definitions, and procedure International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 8(4), 49-62. Retrieved from https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/ijqm/index.php/IJQM/article/viewFile/6118/5892

Pearson Casanave, C., & Li, Y. (2013). Novices’ struggles with conceptual and theoretical framing in writing dissertations and papers for publication. Publications, 3(2), 104-119. Retrieved from https://doaj.org/article/227a9233d0d54cfeb08379902fbc0827 doi:10.3390/publications3020104

Saunders, M., N.K., Gray, D. E., Tosey, P., & Sadler-Smith, E. (2015). Concepts and theory building. In L. Anderson, J. Gold, J. Stewart, & R. Thorpe (Eds.), A Guide to Professional Doctorates in Business and Management (pp. 35-56). London: Sage.

Related posts:

How to narrow down your research topic http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Xf

Developing a Work Plan for Your Thesis https://wp.me/pNAh3-1X3

What if you’re wrong? A question for researchers http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Vq

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This blog has had over 1.6 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

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How to narrow down your research topic

September 17, 2017
Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of the things novice and emerging researchers can struggle with is learning how to narrow down their research topic. Here are some resources that I’ve personally collected and curated to help you tackle this complex element of developing your research project. At the time of writing this post, all the links worked and none of these resources had pop-up ads, paywalls or require any kind of payment. These are freely available and should be widely accessible by students in most areas.

Written resources:

USC Libraries Research Guide – Organizing your social sciences research paper: Narrowing a Topic Idea – http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/narrowtopic

USU: Ways to Narrow Down a Topic – http://ocw.usu.edu/English/intermediate-writing/english-2010/-2010/narrowing-topics-skinless_view.html

Thompson Rivers University: How to Narrow Your Research Topic – https://www.tru.ca/__shared/assets/How_to_Narrow_Down_Your_Research_Topic30237.pdf

BYU LibGuide: Step-by-Step Guide & Research Rescue: Finding and Narrowing your Topic – http://guides.lib.byu.edu/c.php?g=216340&p=1428396

Temple University: Narrowing Your Topic from Subject to Thesis (1-page worksheet) – https://www.temple.edu/writingctr/support-for-writers/documents/NarrowingYourTopicfromSubjecttoThesis-Worksheet.pdf

Starting a PhD: Choosing and Developing Your Research Topic – https://100thousandwords.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/starting-a-phd-%E2%80%93-choosing-and-developing-your-research-topic/

U Penn: Plain Talk About Your Dissertation Proposal – http://www.ling.upenn.edu/advice/green_proposal.html

You Tube videos:

Kansas State University Libraries: How to Develop a Good Research Topic – https://youtu.be/nXNztCLYgxc

M. Moilanen: Now to Narrow Down your Research Topic – https://youtu.be/EcYgNV_nQjk

Laurentian University: Narrowing Your Topic – https://youtu.be/JYYQTSXq6RI

Amanda Dinscore: Narrowing Your Topic – https://youtu.be/J1eVTf974R4

Steely Library NKU: Developing a Research Question – https://youtu.be/LWLYCYeCFak

Check out these related posts on this blog:

5 Websites to avoid referencing in your research papers  http://wp.me/pNAh3-1IA

12 Phrases to Avoid in Your Academic Research Papers http://wp.me/pNAh3-1JX

Why APA formatting matters http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Hc

How many sources do you need in a literature review? http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Hu

What’s the difference between a citation and a reference? http://wp.me/pNAh3-1F9

Why “as cited in” should be avoided in academic writing http://wp.me/pNAh3-1BH

10 Great writing resources for grad students – http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Bc

How to create a research paper outline: 5 great resources http://wp.me/pNAh3-1y6

Conceptual and Theoretical Frameworks for Educational Research https://wp.me/pNAh3-1Za

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This blog has had over 1.6 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


What if you’re wrong? A question for researchers

July 14, 2017

Part of my work involves coaching graduate students who are learning to become researchers. It is not uncommon for students to start out their journey thinking that research is about proving what you already know – or think you know. And so, we start out our journey with some provocative questions, designed to break away from entrenched ways of thinking about the world.

A couple of questions my students hear me ask like a broken record are:

  • How do you define… ? (e.g. How do you define “leadership”?)
  • What counts as… And how do you know? (e.g. What counts as “the right answer” and how do you know?)
  • Who decides? (e.g. “Who decides what it means to be a leader?”)
  • According to whom…? What literature have you consulted to substantiate this claim? (e.g. “Leadership, according to whom? What literature have you consulted to substantiate this claim?”)

As we evolve as researchers, we necessarily dig deep into these kinds of questions.

When you become a “Master Researcher” (which is effectively what you have signed up for with a Master’s degree), you come to realize that it is no longer enough to “just know” something. We recognize that our personal experience, however powerful, is limited. We not only understand, but we insist on acknowledging, that what we think we know might be wrong.

I often ask students, “What if you’re wrong?”

If the first reaction to that question is a visceral twisting of your gut, a gob smacked open mouth and an instant response of “I am not wrong!” Well, then… you’re probably wrong. And chances are, you have some “un-learning” to do before you can produce quality research in the social sciences (or perhaps any field).

Once you get to the point where you can react with deep curiosity, with a surprising dose of delight and your instant response is, “Well, indeed! What IF I am wrong? What would that mean? I have no idea. I could be wrong. Hmmm… What a delicious puzzle. I really want to understand what would mean to be wrong, as much as it would to be right. Let the discovery begin!”

The less attached we become to being “right”, the more skilled of a researcher we can become.

Check out these related posts on this blog:

5 Websites to avoid referencing in your research papers  http://wp.me/pNAh3-1IA

12 Phrases to Avoid in Your Academic Research Papers http://wp.me/pNAh3-1JX

Why APA formatting matters http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Hc

How many sources do you need in a literature review? http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Hu

What’s the difference between a citation and a reference? http://wp.me/pNAh3-1F9

Why “as cited in” should be avoided in academic writing http://wp.me/pNAh3-1BH

10 Great writing resources for grad students – http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Bc

How to create a research paper outline: 5 great resources http://wp.me/pNAh3-1y6

Conceptual and Theoretical Frameworks for Educational Research https://wp.me/pNAh3-1Za

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Share this post: What if you’re wrong? A question for researchers http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Vq

This blog has had over 1.7 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Summer course – Research Methodology in Education

June 19, 2017

I am pleased to be teaching Research Methodology in Education this summer for our Master of Education students. This is an online course offered from July 4 to August 16, 2017.

Course description

This first course in educational research methodologies provides the background necessary to make intelligent decisions around the kinds of research questions that might be asked and the sort(s) of insights and answers particular methods can provide.

Learner outcomes

Throughout the course of study students will be able to:

  • Identify viable and interesting research questions, both in their own potential research endeavours and in the work of published academics
  • Identify, compare and critique a variety of educational research methodologies based on their primary assumptions and methods
  • Evaluate the relevance of educational research methodologies with special consideration being given to stated research questions and the knowledge being sought
  • Differentiate between the central tenets of qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis strategies with special consideration being given to the strengths, weaknesses and relevance of each in education
  • Assess the validity of a variety of research methods, both qualitative and quantitative, commonly used in education
  • Examine and interrogate the relationships between research questions, research methods and interpretation of findings in educational studies
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of ethical issues in educational research, particularly with regard to the use of human participants
  • Formulate and evaluate their own preliminary research questions in response to both their research interests and professional context
  • Understand how action research applies to educational settings and contexts

Required readings

Creswell, J. W. (2014).  Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (4th ed).  Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Hendricks, C. (2016). Improving schools through Action Research: A reflective practice approach (4th ed.), Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Here’s a copy of the course outline: EDER_603.21_Su2017_Eaton_approved

This marks the tenth time I have taught this course online. I love working with students to help them gain a strong foundation in research methodology. I can’t wait to get started with this year’s group!

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This blog has had over 1.6 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

 


Readings for Writing Educational Research (EDER 603.23)

April 10, 2017

I have taught this course a dozen times now. Every semester, I find great new resources to share with students. Sometimes students share resources they have found during their learning journey, too. In this blog post, I collect, curate and share information about the required readings, along with some excellent supplementary resources to help you learn to improve your academic writing.

I offer a big shoutout of appreciation and acknowledgement to the students who have added resources to this list over the years.

Required Readings

  1. Belcher, W. L. (2009). Writing your journal article in 12 weeks: A guide to academic publishing success. SAGE Publications, Inc.
  2. American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Online resources (Available at no cost. Also, see the course outline for resources specific to the University of Calgary)

  1. Basics of APA Style (Tutorial): http://www.apastyle.org/learn/tutorials/basics-tutorial.aspx
  2. Workbook to accompany Belcher’s text: http://www.wendybelcher.com/pages/WorkbookForms.htm

Recommended readings on writing for publication in research and professional journals

  1. Bednar, J. A. (n.d.). Tips for Academic Writing and Other Formal Writing.   Retrieved from http://homepages.inf.ed.ac.uk/jbednar/writingtips.html

  2.  Fisher, J. P., Jansen, J. A., Johnson, P. C., & Mikos, A. G. (n.d.). Guidelines for writing a research paper for publication. Retrieved from https://www.liebertpub.com/media/pdf/English-Research-Article-Writing-Guide.pdf

  3. Hartley. (2008). Academic writing and publishing: A practical handbook. Retrieved from http://inf.ucv.ro/~mirel/courses/MIAM114/docs/academicwriting.pdf

  4. Hess, D. R. (2004). How to write an effective discussion. Respiratory Care, 49(10), 1238-1241. Retrieved from http://site.ufvjm.edu.br/ppgodonto/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Artigo_6-1.pdf

  5. Liumbruno, G. M., Velati, C., Pasqualetti, P., & Franchini, M. (2013). How to write a scientific manuscript for publication. Blood Transfusion, 11(2), 217-226. doi:10.2450/2012.0247-12

  6. Lowe, C., & Zemliansky, P. (Eds.). Writing spaces: Readings on writing (Vol. 1). West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press. Retrieved from http://writingspaces.org/sites/default/files/writing-spaces-readings-on-writing-vol-1.pdf

  7. Pautasso, M. (2013). Ten simple rules for writing a literature review.   Retrieved from http://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003149

  8. Rocco, T. S., & Hatcher, T. (2011). The handbook of scholarly writing and publishing. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Recommended readings on how to give (and receive) peer review and peer feedback (and deal with rejection)

  1. Durso, T. (1997). Editors’ advice to rejected authors: Just try, try again. The Scientist. Retrieved from http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/18603/title/Editors–Advice-To-Rejected-Authors–Just-Try–Try-Again/
  2. Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112. Retrieved from http://education.qld.gov.au/staff/development/performance/resources/readings/power-feedback.pdf doi:10.3102/003465430298487
  3. Seals, D. R., & Tanaka, H. (2000). Manuscript peer review: a helpful checklist for students and novice referees. Advances in physiology education, 23(1), 52-58.
  4. Shashok, K. (2008). Content and communication: How can peer review provide helpful feedback about the writing? BMC Medical Research Methodology, 8(1), 3. doi:10.1186/1471-2288-8-3.

Recommended supplementary readings on how to get published

  1. Belcher, W. L. (2009). Reflections on ten years of teaching writing for publication to graduate students and junior faculty. Journal of scholarly publishing, 40(2), 184-200. doi:10.3138/jsp.40.2.184
  2. Lovejoy, T. I., Revenson, T. A., & France, C. R. (2011). Reviewing Manuscripts for Peer-Review Journals: A Primer for Novice and Seasoned Reviewers. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 42(1), 1-13. doi:10.1007/s12160-011-9269-x

  3. McGrail, M. R., Rickard, C., & Jones, R. (2006). Publish or perish: a systematic review of interventions to increase academic publication rates. Higher Education Research and Development.
  4. Parsons, J. (2016). How to write an article for The Canadian Journal for Teacher Research (CJTR) from your graduate work? The Canadian Journal for Teacher Research. Retrieved from http://www.teacherresearch.ca/blog/article/2016/02/01/292-how-to-write-an-article-for-the-canadian-journal-for-teacher-research-cjtr-from-your-graduate-work
  5. Pearce II, J. A. (2012). Revising manuscripts for premier entrepreneurship journals. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 36(2), 193-203. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6520.2012.00502.x

  6. Zwaaf, E. (2013). 8 Reasons I accepted your article. Elsevier. Retrieved from https://www.elsevier.com/connect/8-reasons-i-accepted-your-article

A note to other professors and educators: I am happy for you to share this list with your own students. Instead of copying and pasting this blog post into your own course outline (because that would be plagiarism), please put a link to this blog post in your syllabus.

Related posts:

How to provide peer review feedback http://wp.me/pNAh3-1qH

How writers can learn to accept criticism http://wp.me/pNAh3-1oA

What’s the difference between a citation and a reference? http://wp.me/pNAh3-1F9

Why APA formatting matters http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Hc

12 Phrases to Avoid in Your Academic Research Papers http://wp.me/pNAh3-1JX

How many sources do you need in a literature review?  http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Hu

What’s the difference between a manuscript and an article? http://wp.me/pNAh3-1SV

Why “as cited in” should be avoided in academic writing  http://wp.me/pNAh3-1BH

10 Great writing resources for grad students – http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Bc

How to create a research paper outline: 5 great resources http://wp.me/pNAh3-1y6

Template for a 10-page graduate research paper in social sciences http://wp.me/pNAh3-1s2

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Share this post: Readings for Writing Educational Research (EDER 603.23) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1OJ

This blog has had over 1.6 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


EDER 708.01 Collaboratory of Practice II: Post-Secondary Leadership

February 15, 2017

U of C logo - 2015I usually post copies of my course outlines here on the blog, both for current students and for future ones. I realized that I forgot to post this earlier, so I am adding it now. This winter I have the pleasure to work with an awesome cohort of students specializing in post-secondary leadership. Here’s what the course is about:

Course Description:

Collaboratories of Practice represent a fusion of two important developments in contemporary research: communities of practice and collaboratories.  A collaboratory is a new-networked organizational form involving structured experiences of authentic, real-world practice that serve as sources of active inquiry and professional learning.  Using a studio or “collaborative laboratory” learning design, this course facilitates the application of knowledge in real world settings and to investigate and learn from inquiry in the field.

The goal of this second collaboratory is to promote critical inquiry that addresses high-leverage problems of practice related to teaching, learning, and leading in order that service and collaboration among colleagues and the professional communities can be enhanced.  It will provide students the opportunity to critically apply theoretical and technical knowledge, to develop and refine professional skills, and to integrate theoretical, research, and practical knowledge through a focus on data collection and analysis.

Learner Outcomes:

By the conclusion of this course each learner will:

  1. evaluate and select a research methodology to address the research questions.
  1. determine a setting, sample and data sources applicable to the research problem and purpose.
  2. develop methods of data collection and data analysis to address the research problem and purpose within the ethical requirements of the Research Ethics Board.
  3. write a draft Research Methods and Methodology section for an EdD Research Proposal.

Throughout this course each learner will:

  1. contribute to an online scholarly community;
  2. provide constructive feedback on colleagues’ work in collaboratory (studio) groups and incorporate feedback into one’s own work; and
  3. develop and enhance scholarly writing skills through ongoing cycles of feedback from peers, the instructor and the supervisor.

Here’s a copy of the course outline: eder_708-01_l01_eaton_w2017-final-approved

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Share this post: Course outline EDER 708 – CoLaboratory of Practice https://goo.gl/m5DH99

This blog has had over 1.6 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


How to conduct focus groups: Free online resources for researchers

February 6, 2017

I have been putting some resources together for graduate students on how to conduct focus groups. Here are over a dozen freely available online resources on how to plan, implement, record and analyze focus groups:

  1. Dawson, S., Manderson, L., & Tallo, V. L. (1992). The focus group manual. Retrieved from http://www.ircwash.org/sites/default/files/125-10840.pdf
  2. Education Training Services. (n.d.). Focus Group Planning Checklist. Retrieved from http://www.etr.org/cisp/access-resources/focus-areas/organizational-development/focus-groups-planning-checklist-pdf/
  3. Elliot & Associates. (2005). Guidelines for conducting a focus group. Retrieved from https://assessment.trinity.duke.edu/documents/How_to_Conduct_a_Focus_Group.pdf
  4. Family Health International. (n.d.). Qualitative focus groups: A data collector’s field guide. Retrieved from https://sa-assessment.uoregon.edu/Portals/0/focusgroups1.pdf
  5. Com. (n.d.). Moderator Check List to Conduct Focus Groups or Depth Interviews. Retrieved from http://www.focusgrouptips.com/conduct-focus-groups.html
  6. Harrell, M. C., & Bradley, M. A. (2009). Training manual: Data collection methods: Semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Retrieved from http://www.mbamedicine.activemoodle.com/mod/resource/view.php?id=486
  7. Jordan Civil Society Program (CSP). (2012). How to engage your stakeholders in designing, monitoring and evaluating your Programs: A step-by-step guide to focus group research for non-governmental organizations Retrieved from http://staff.estem-uc.edu.au/taipham/files/2013/01/A-Step-by-Step-Guide-to-Focus-Group-Research.pdf
  8. Kielman, K., Cataldo, F., & Seeley, J. (2012). Introduction to qualitative research methodology: A training manual. Department for International Development (DfID). Retrieved from https://rbfhealth.org/sites/rbf/files/Introduction%20to%20Qualitative%20Research%20Methodology%20-%20A%20Training%20Manual.pdf
  9. Modesto, T. S. (Ed.) (2013). Preparing your dissertation at a distance: A research guide. Virtual University for the Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Centre for Distanced Education (CDE) – (SADC-CDE). Retrieved from http://www.sadc.int/files/3713/7821/2867/Dissertation_PDF.pdf
  10. Reilly, L. (2013). Training handbook: Organizing and facilitating focus groups. Alexandria: VA. National School Boards Association. Retrieved from https://cdn-files.nsba.org/s3fs-public/05_PET_FocusGroups_Handbook.pdf?cVFz.heuGUiKZnO.caQz8Qjftx7AV9Fk
  11. Shallwani, S., & Mohammed, S. (2007). Community-based participatory research: A training manual for community-based researchers. Retrieved from http://www.livingknowledge.org/fileadmin/Dateien-Living-Knowledge/Dokumente_Dateien/Toolbox/LK_A_Training_manual.pdf
  12. Temple University. (2004). Module III: Qualitative data: Focus group tools. Rapid policy assessment and response. Retrieved from http://www.temple.edu/lawschool/phrhcs/rpar/tools/english/Module%20III_tools.pdf.
  13. Temple University. (2004). Module III: Qualitative data: Focus groups: Training materials. Rapid policy assessment and response. Retrieved from http://www.temple.edu/lawschool/phrhcs/rpar/tools/english/Module%20III_training.pdf.
  14. S. Environmental Protection Agency. Focus group check list. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/focus_group_checklist.doc

I’ll update this list as I find more resources.

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This blog has had over 1.6 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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