Research in Special Education: Designs, Methods, and Applications

Article excerpt

Research in Special Education: Designs, Methods, and Applications Phillip D. Rumrill, Jr., and Bryan G. Cook Charles C Thomas, Springfield, Illinois, 2000

In Research in Special Education: Designs, Methods, and Applications, Phillip D. Rumrill, Jr., and Bryan G. Cook accomplish many things in 10 short chapters. Foremost among these accomplishments is a clear and concise examination of the role of scientific inquiry in special education practices. In addition, the authors provide readers with something akin to a primer on scientific research. Graduatelevel students, practitioners, and teachers in the fields of special education, disability studies, early intervention, school psychology, and child and family services will glean from this book the information needed to begin conducting research of their own. Graduate students in special education will find this book especially pertinent, as Rumrill and Cook have provided examples from current special education research of everything from dependent variables to single-subject research design. The authors cited in this book constitute a veritable "Who's Who" in special education research.

Chapter 1 presents an overview of the role that scientific research can play in special education. Although alternative ways of knowing are described, Rumrill and Cook suggest that it is scientific research that will permit the field to build theories and identify effective practices. They also elucidate the unique challenges that special education poses for scientific inquiry. In Chapters 2 and 3, the authors tackle the nuts and bolts of research. Chapter 2 focuses on those issues that are essential in designing or understanding research studies: research questions, operational definitions, hypotheses, variables, and sampling. Chapter 3 describes the key issues in measurement and statistics, with specific attention to inferential statistics and methods of statistical analysis. The chapter concludes with a table providing exemplars of types of analyses with their related variables and purposes of analysis.

Chapter 4 covers the ethical issues and guidelines germane to special education research. The Council for Exceptional Children's Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, a sample Institutional Review Board document, and a sample informed consent form are included as appendixes to this chapter.

In Chapters 5 through 7, Rumrill and Cook take on the issues of research validity, quantitative research design, and qualitative research design. Chapter 5 presents an overview of different types of validity, including internal, external, construct, and statistical conclusion validity. In addition, the authors include a description of the relationships between these various types of validity. Chapter 6, the longest chapter in the book, explores the basics of quantitative research. In describing the various forms that quantitative research can take (e.g., intervention/stimulus studies, relationship studies, descriptive studies) the authors provide examples of each from special education research. …