Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

The Factors Affecting Definition of Research Problems in Educational Technology Researches

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

The Factors Affecting Definition of Research Problems in Educational Technology Researches

Article excerpt


Research problems in a scientific research are formed after a certain process. This process starts with defining a research topic and transforms into a specific research problem or hypothesis. The aim of this study was to examine the way educational technology researchers identify their research problems. To this end, sources that educational technology researchers apply to and factors that affect educational technology researchers during the process of defining research problem, and how educational technology researchers narrow research problems were examined. The research was carried out as a case study. Data were gathered from educational technology researchers by semi-structured interviews. Participants were ten researchers who were doctoral students and faculty members from three different universities. Data were subjected to content analysis. Findings presented under "Sources Used, Factors and Narrowing the Problem" themes related with defining research problem. Literature, individual factors and Academic Exchange were the common categories under these three themes. In addition, scope of the problem was identified as influential in terms of limiting the problem and identifying the problem. The results of the study are expected to be beneficial for educational technology researchers.

Key Words

Educational Technology Research, Research Process, the Process of Defining Research Problems.

Scientific research usually starts with having a problem, willingness to solve a problem or interest in a topic. Thus, each study starts with a research problem and ends with a report (Dunne, Pryor, & Yates, 2005). A research problem can be identified with different ways. They include researcher's daily life experience (Maddux, 2003), problems faced in implementation, need for testing theories (Tomul, 2009) and recommendation raised by previous studies (Chow & Harrison, 2002; Johnson & Christensen, 2004). Besides interesting, researchable, manageable and fruitful topics, researcher's having sufficient preliminary information and skills about the topic and availability of related data affect definition of research topic (Brewerton & Millward, 2001, p. 20; Daymon & Holloway, 2002, pp. 22-23; Polonsky & Waller, 2005, p. 13). Additionally, discussion of potential research topics in scientific events plays an important role in defining the problem to be studied (Kwiatkowski & Silverman, 1998; Maddux, 2003).

After deciding on the research problem, the problem must be narrowed down and research questions must be written (Anderson, 1998). Many researchers point out that defining the problem bears critical importance for the whole research process (Bryman, 2007). In this point it is important to distinguish between the research topic and research problem. Research topics can be arising from researchers' personal experiences and knowledge gained by the different studies on the other hand research problem defines the specialty about the topic (Campbell, Daft, & Hulin, 1982 as cited in Bradley, 2001). Hence research problems contribute the development of interesting and significant theories or testing theories (Sandberg & Alvesson, 2011). Also they directly influence the connection with the literature and the research methodology (Bryman, 2007).

There are many different methods regarding problem defining process in the literature. They include referring to the literature, contemporary practices, personal experiences and applying to other disciplines (Alter & Dennis, 2002). Among others, identifying research gaps is the most outstanding method (Alvesson & Sandberg, 2011; Sandberg & Alvesson, 2011). Such studies are focused on three different cases. Firstly, as controversial items are identified in the literature, studies are carried out to enlighten these items (Kwiatkowski & Silverman, 1998). Second, complementary studies are carried out in relation with previous studies in the literature (Tsui, Zhao, & Abrahamson, 2007). …

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