Phrasing Dissertation Questions In Education

To effectively write the statement of the problem of your thesis, you will need to bear in mind certain principles that will guide you in framing those critical questions.  Well-written research questions determine how the whole research process will proceed.

At least three basic research outcomes are expected. These are described below along with examples of research questions for each outcome.

There are already many pieces of literature written on how to write the research questions required in investigating a phenomenon. But how are the research questions framed in actual situations? How do you write the research questions?

You will need to bear in mind certain rules and principles on how to go about writing the research questions. Before you start writing the research questions, you should be able to discern what you intend to arrive at in your research.

What are your aims and what are your expected research outcomes? Do you intend to describe something, determine differences or explain the causes of a phenomenon?

Three Basic Research Outcomes

There are at least three basic research outcomes that will arise in writing the research questions. These are 1) come up with a description, 2) determine differences between variables, and 3) find out correlations between variables.

Research Outcome Number 1. Come up with a description.

The outcome of your research question may be in the form of a description. The description is provided to contextualize the situation, explain something about the subjects or respondents of the study or provide the reader an overview of your study.

Below are examples of common research questions for Research Outcome Number 1 on a research conducted on teachers as respondents in a study.

Example Research Questions

  • What is the demographic profile of the teachers in terms of age, gender, educational attainment, civil status, and number of training attended?
  • How much time do teachers devote in preparing their lessons?
  • What teaching styles are used by teachers in managing their students?

The expected outcomes of the questions above will be a description of the teachers’ demographic profile, a range of time devoted to preparing their lessons, and a description of the teaching styles used by the teachers. These research outcomes can be presented in the form of tables and graphs with accompanying descriptions of the highlights of the findings. Highlights are those interesting trends or dramatic results that need attention such as very few training provided to teachers.

Research Outcome Number 2. Determine differences between variables.

To be able to write research questions that integrate the variables of the study, you should be able to define what is a variable. If this term is already quite familiar to you, and you are confident in your understanding, you may read the rest of this post.

You might want to find out the differences between groups in a selected variable in your study. Say, you would want to know if there is a significant difference in long quiz score (the variable you are interested in) between students who study at night and students who study early in the morning. You may frame your research questions thus:

Example Research Questions

  • Non-directional: Is there a significant difference in long quiz score between students who study early in the morning and students who study at night?
  • Directional: Are the quiz scores of students who study early in the morning higher than those who study at night?

The intention of the first research question is to find out if a difference exists in long quiz scores between students who study at night and those who study early in the morning, hence is non-directional. The second research question aims to find out if indeed students who study in the morning have better quiz scores as what the review of the literature suggests. Thus, the latter is directional.

Research Outcome Number 3. Find out correlations or relationships between variables.

The outcome of research questions in this category will be to explain correlations or causality. Below are examples of research questions that aim to find out correlations or relationships between variables using a combination of the variables mentioned in research outcome numbers 1 and 2.

Example Research Questions

  • Is there a significant relationship between teaching style and long quiz score of students?
  • Is there a significant association between the student’s long quiz score and the teacher’s age, gender, and training attended?
  • Is there a relationship between the long quiz score and the number of hours devoted by students in studying their lessons?

Note that in all the preceding examples of research questions, the variables of the study found in the conceptual framework of the study are integrated. Therefore, research questions must always incorporate the variables in them so that the researcher can describe, find differences, or correlate them with each other.

If you find this helpful, take the time to share this with your peers so that they can likewise discover new, exciting and interesting things along their fields of interest.

© 2012 October 22 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (October 22, 2012). What are Examples of Research Questions?. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2012/10/22/what-are-examples-of-research-questions/

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Once you have your outline sorted and you've got a pile of research notes together, it's time to knuckle down and start writing. You need not necessarily start at the beginning – in fact, introductions are often easier to write at the end when you know how your argument has developed.

Get going on the bits you know you'll find easy, then use your outline to put them together in the right order. You'll find areas that need further research, so be prepared to revisit the library as you're going along.

Your style of writing is crucial to communicating your ideas effectively. A well-planned and researched dissertation can be let down by poorly expressed ideas or unclear phrasing. Allowing plenty of time for writing will avoid this.

Be prepared to work through two or three drafts, refining your work each time, before you are happy with the end result.

Finding your style

During your research you will have read a number of scholarly articles. Select a recommended academic text that you find easy and enjoyable to read. Study the structures and work out how arguments are presented. Collect good examples of vocabulary and punctuation.

Consider how techniques used by the author convince the reader of their argument and see if you can apply them in your own writing.

In an essay of this length, sub-headings are a useful way of breaking up the text and signalling to the reader what stage you have reached. Tweak these sub-headings as you move through each draft to ensure they still provide a useful overview of the section.

Avoid repetition. Look out for any words or phrases that have already been stated or implied elsewhere in the sentence – and cut them out.

For example, if you've written "Many countries were reluctant to declare war while others on the other hand did not hesitate", you may like to change it to "Many countries were reluctant to declare war; others did not hesitate". Reading your work aloud will help you spot clumsy sentence structure.

Structuring sentences

As you write your essay, it is worth distinguishing the key points in your discussion from less important supporting ideas. Aim to give full weight to your key points by giving them each a sentence of their own. Elaborations and detail can be added in subsequent sentences.

It is a common mistake to think that the longer the sentence, the cleverer it sounds. It is important to remember that every word conveys a unit of meaning on its own, however small, so the more words there are in a sentence, the harder it will be for the reader to grasp the meaning within it.

Instead of adding on clauses, introduce the next point in a new sentence. Connective words and phrases – however, consequently, but, so – can be placed at the start of the new sentence if necessary, to indicate its relationship to the previous one and make your work flow.

Acknowledging ideas

Although your dissertation should contain your own original thought, you will also want to refer to the ideas of other writers on the topic.

Your dissertation should critically evaluate those ideas and identify what problems remain in your area of research and what has not yet been explored.

You can also use the work of others as evidence to back up your own argument – when doing this, ensure you add a footnote to signpost clearly to the reader the original source of the point you are making.

Perfect your bibliography

Make sure you have a sufficient number of references to books, articles and sources you have used – check with your tutor what is expected.

Some should be primary sources, which means non-academic material such as newspapers, interviews, cave paintings, train timetables, statistics. You will also quote secondary sources, which are usually academic articles that analyse primary sources.

There are lots of different referencing style guides such as those put out by the AHRC, MHRA and Harvard. Your academic department will tell you which one they use, and you will need to follow instructions to the letter. Consistency is critical, and you'll have to pay close attention to details such as punctuation.

• Coming up in the final part of this series: How to edit your dissertation.

Thanks to Goldsmiths University for supplying this content, which has been designed to be dyslexia-friendly.

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