In education, research is necessary in order to assess the effects of major changes. On the basis of such assessment, educational planners provide policy advice so that post productive courses of action can be consolidated and extended, while existing practices that are damaging and wasteful can be intercepted and terminated. There are various types of educational research studies and they can be classified in a number of ways.
Studies may be classified according to topic, with the particular phenomena under investigation used to group the studies. Studies can also be divided into exploratory and confirmatory. A researcher undertakes an exploratory study when there is not enough understanding about a phenomena and he or she can only make a conjecture about key variables, their relationships, and causal linkages. By contrast, a researcher employs a confirmatory study when he or she has generated a theoretical model, which is based on theory, detailed observation, or previous research findings, and needs to test it by gathering and analyzing field data.
The types of educational research can also be defined according to the kinds of information they provide. Historical research describes and sometimes attempts to explain conditions, situations, and events that occurred in the past. As part of descriptive research, information about conditions, situations, and events occurring in the present is provided. Correlational research uses various measures of statistical association to find relationships between variables.
Causal research observes existing phenomena in order to suggest causal linkages between variables then searches back through available data to identify plausible relationships. Experimental research is employed in settings where a researcher can manipulate variables defining one or more 'causes' in a systematic fashion so that one can discern 'effects' on other variables. Case study research in general refers to two different research approaches. As part of the first approach, a particular student, classroom, or school are studied in depth in order to produce a nuanced description of the pervading cultural setting that has an impact on education, as well as an account of the interactions taking place between students and other relevant persons.
The second approach to case study research consists of the application of quantitative research methods to non-probability samples. The results of such research are not necessarily designed in a way that they can be used for the generalization of wider populations. Ethnographic research generally involves a description of events occurring within the life of a group, in particular referring to the interaction of individuals in the context of the sociocultural norms, rituals, and beliefs shared by the group.
Research and development research is different from the other types of research because instead of bringing new information to light, it studies the interaction between research and the production and evaluation of a new product. Such research can be 'formative' as part of which evaluative information about the products is being collected while it is being developed and such information is designed to be used for the modification and improvement of the development process. It can also be 'summative' and evaluate the worth of the final product, in comparison to some other competing product, in particular.
There are a number of sequential stages in the research process. First, the research issues should be identified in terms of general and specific questions. Then a review of previous studies in the field should be made. A researcher should then decide whether to adopt an experimental design or a survey design for the study on the basis of the specific research questions. Then operation definition of key variables should be constructed and instruments, such as tests, questionnaires, observation schedules, to be employed while measuring these variables should be selected and prepared.
A researcher should conduct a pilot testing of instruments and data collection and record the procedures and techniques. The results should be used to revise instruments and to refine the data collection procedures. Then the data should be collected and prepared before its main analysis. Once the data is summarized and tabulated, a research report or reports are written.
There are three types of research reports. The technical report is written in great detail and shows all of the research details, usually read by other researchers. The second report is in the form of an executive summary and reports the major findings and their implications for future action or policy. The third general report presents the results in an easily understood form for interested members of the public, teachers, and university people.