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Realist/Scientific/Postpositivist Approach to Research

The assignment consists of analyzing one of the two articles below. This includes the basis for the problem being researched, the design and procedures, the results presented in the article, and the conclusions and implications of these results. The focus should be on analysis; NOT on summarizing nor on description.

Choose one of these two articles for your analysis:
Vaughn, S., Martinez, L. R., Wanzek, J., Roberts, G., Swanson, E., & Fall, A. M. (2017). Improving content knowledge and comprehension for English language learners: Findings from a randomized control trial. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(1), 22-34.

Williams, J. P., Kao, J. C., Pao, L. S., Ordynans, J. G., Atkins, J. G., Cheng, R., & DeBonis, D. (2016). Close analysis of texts with structure (CATS): An intervention to teach reading comprehension to at-risk second graders. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(8), 1061-1077.

In your paper you will analyze the study under the following headings:
1. Introductory Statement to briefly describe the study (½ page)
1. Research Problem / Research Hypothesis / Research Question
2. Review of the Literature
3. Method: Research Design, Sampling, & Instrumentation
4. Results
5. Discussion and Conclusions
6. Concluding Comment at the end giving your overall impressions of the quality of study. Your Concluding Comment should include whether you think the researcher used an appropriate methodology and appropriate research methods, and why you think this. It should also link back to the philosophical stances.

Please use headings (as indicated above) to organize your responses to the suggestions posed below. Any references you use, including the textbook, should be documented using APA format.

These suggestions are meant to generally cover the analysis of quantitative studies. They may not all specifically apply, and you may use suggestions from the literature on reviewing papers in addition to these. Please also refer to the appropriate sections in Creswell for supporting information. Support your responses by using brief examples/quotes from the study to illustrate the points you make.
Suggestions to Guide the Analysis of Realist/Scientific Studies
Research problem/question/hypothesis (and title and authors)
• The purpose is clear and presented in the introductory pages.
• The purpose is researchable: i.e., it is presented in a way that can give rise to research.
• The problem is significant—the researchers provide a basis for it.
• The results could be expected to have practical and theoretical importance.
• The introduction indicates the nature of the study, the constructs, the variables (independent and dependent), the type of study, etc.
• The population is indicated, or readily ascertained.
• The hypotheses are clear or can be readily determined from the question.
• The researchers appear to have the appropriate background skills.
• The point of view of the researchers is apparent.

Review of the literature
• Review is comprehensive and detailed. The review includes primary studies as well as theoretical studies, or studies that are both.
• Important previous studies are included and discussed relative to the problem.
• Findings from other studies are discussed, critiqued (summarized, analyzed, and limitations/flaws), and the implications noted.
• Review is up-to-date.
• A theoretical or conceptual framework for the study is established.
• Review is organized by topic, not author.
• Review helps to establish the significance of the research.
• Hypotheses follow from the literature; basis for research question/ hypothesis is established.
• The literature provides a basis for the nature and method of the study.

Research Design and Procedures
• The design is described thoroughly and clearly.
• The design is appropriate to the research question.
• Threats to internal validity are discussed.
• Generalizability is discussed (external validity).
• Procedures are described in detail. Interventions are described and examples provided (if applicable).

Participants and Sampling
• Participants are appropriate to the study.
• Participants are clearly described, detailed (you should be able to determine the appropriateness of them to another setting), and rationale provided.
• Population is clearly defined, and sampling procedure is clearly described.
• Rationale is given for the number of participants.
• Ethical standards are used in choosing participants.
• Response rates for surveys are indicated and explained; other aspects of the sampling and characteristics of the participants that may be relevant are discussed.

• Basis for the choice of research instruments is clear and detailed, including evidence for the validity and reliability of the instruments.
• Instruments are appropriate for the subjects.
• Instruments are clearly described.
• Procedures for administering the instrument are clearly described.
• Procedures for gathering data are clearly described.
• Response bias in the study is indicated.
• Norms are specified for norm-referenced interpretations.
• Procedures for setting standards are indicated for criterion-referenced interpretations.
• Observers and interviewers are adequately trained.
• Observer and interviewer effects are discussed and dealt with.
(You may have to make certain assumptions about the competency of the researchers in this regard as studying statistical methods is not part of this course. However, you can read the results carefully and look for evidence of statistical tests and interpretations.)
• A descriptive statistical summary is provided. This is detailed and clear; the statistics used are clearly indicated, and the results are readily understood from tables and text.
• Appropriate inferential statistics are used to address the hypothesis/question. This is beyond what we can deal with in the course – but you can determine whether the hypotheses are tested and clear interpretations of the results of the tests are presented.
• Levels of significance are stated and interpreted correctly.

Discussion and conclusions
• Conclusions are clearly presented, and the researchers relate these directly to the hypotheses and questions posed in the introduction.
• There is detailed interpretation of the results in addition to the reporting of results. Conclusions follow from the interpretation of the results.
• Results are discussed in relation to previous research, methodology, and the research problem – with particular reference to those studies that are the most pertinent.
• Conclusions are limited by the nature of the study and its participants.
• Statistical significance should not be interpreted as practical significance, but practical significance is discussed. Implications are indicated.
• Limitations of findings are reasonable, and addressed.
• Recommendations and implications are specific.

Suggestions have been adapted from James H. McMillan, 2012, Educational Research: Fundamentals for the Consumer, Pearson; and M. D. Gall, Joyce P. Gall, and Walter R. Borg, 2010, Applying Educational Research.

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