1. Picking a Topic
The following questions and information are meant to help you choose a topic for your SoTL project or SoTL research agenda.
I. What is your purpose in wanting to do a SoTL project?
II. Brainstorm several SoTL topics that interest you:
For an example:
III. Considering the realities of collecting evidence, barriers to investigating these topics and resources that may already be in place to assist in investigating any of these topics, choose the topic you are most interested in working on.
Click here for more information on formulating a research problem.
2. Choose the Depth of your Project
You now have several choices regarding how deeply you want to investigate this topic or how long-term a project you want to do.
3. Investigating Your Topic
Kinds of SoTL Projects: This article categorizes, lists and describes the different kinds of SoTL projects.
1. Explanation of the Two Kinds of Research
Confirmatory = Deductive = Testing theory with data
Exploratory = Inductive = Using data to form theory
There is a critical difference between research that aims to test theory with hypotheses that should be true given this theory, and research that aims to create new theory or understanding.
There is a difference between:
The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive:
|Using the same example to demonstrate Inductive and Deductive Research|
|Computer Instruction in Math||Testing whether an instructional software program improved student ability.||Observing the positive effects of the use of an instructional software program.|
2. Procedural Questions to Guide Exploratory or Inductive Research
1. Specify a focused research question.
What – very specifically – are you trying to describe, explain, and/or predict?
2. Explain why this question/topic is important and worthy of investigation. Convince the reader that your paper is worth reading.
Why should the reader care about this question/this issue?
3. Synthesize a literature review. Tell the reader what we already know – from other scholars – about this topic/question.
4. Describe your research design. Tell the reader about the data and methods you use inductively to construct your hypotheses and then your theory.
In this section, be sure to address the following:
Click here for more information on measurement, operationalization, and concerns about validity and reliability.
Click here for more information on study design and how it can strengthen your conclusions.
5. Discuss – statistically and substantively – the patterns you have found.
Substantively, what do “all these numbers” mean?
6. Based on your findings, state the hypotheses that follow from inductive analyses.
Then, state and explain your general theory that subsumes these hypotheses.
7. Summarize your primary conclusions.
8. Again, tell the reader your new contribution to this topic/question.
9. Summarize the future research that might follow from this project.
What would you “do next?” In particular, what other datasets or samples are good candidates for *deductively* testing your newly developed theory and hypotheses?
Research Design Issues: A user-friendly research methods website with information about research design issues and types of designs. http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/design.htm
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