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Educational Research

This guide contains resources for educators.

What is educational research?

According to Gary Anderson and Nancy Arsenault, there are ten characteristics of educational research (2002).

  1. Educational research attempts to solve a problem.
  2. Research involves gathering new data from primary of first-hand sources or using existing data for a new purpose.
  3. Research is based upon observable experience or empirical evidence.
  4. Research demands accurate observation and description.
  5. Research generally employs carefully designed procedures and rigorous analysis.
  6. Research emphasizes the development of generalizations, principles or theories that will help in understanding, prediction and/or control.
  7. Research requires expertise- familiarity with the field; competence in methodology; technical skill in collecting and analyzing data.
  8. Research attempts to find an objective, unbiased solution to the problem and takes great pains to validate the procedures employed.
  9. Research is a deliberate but unhurried activity which is directional but often refines the problem or questions as the research progresses.
  10. Research is carefully recorded and reported to other persons interested in the problem.

Getting Started

Image was created by Emily Jones and adapted from 2017 blog post by Mansureh Kebritchi.

Tools for Identifying a Problem

Fishbone Diagram

(Colorado Department of Education, n.d.) 

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping can be a helpful tool for brainstorming. Mind mapping can be applied to problems, solutions, or both!

Other Tools:

Planning Your Literature Search

Searching the literature is necessary when conducting research. Literature helps you understand the information available on the topic, but to also helps ensure you will not be "reinventing the wheel". 


Developing a Purpose Statement

Purpose statements provide direction and focus for your research study (Creswell, 2015).

Characteristics of a good research purpose statement (Anderson & Aresenault, 2002): 

  1. The problem can be stated clearly and concisely.
  2. The problem generates research questions.
  3. It is grounded in theory.
  4. It relates to one or more academic fields of study.
  5. It has a base in the research literature.
  6. It has potential significance/ importance.
  7. It is do-able within the time frame, budget.
  8. Sufficient data are available or can be obtained.
  9. The researcher’s methodological strengths can be applied to the problem.
  10. The problem is new; it is not already answered sufficiently.

Example: The purpose of this study is to determine ____________________________________________________

Developing Research Questions

Research questions help narrow the purpose and should be developed before determining study design and methods (Creswell, 2015).

Apply the FINER criteria for developing a good research question (Hulley et al, 2013):

F: Feasible (adequate number of subjects, manageable, enough time and money)
I: Interesting (answer is interesting to investigator and their peers)
N: Novel (How will your findings relate to previous ones?)
E: Ethical (Is your study ethical?)
R: Relevant (relevant to the community and to future research)


  1. What are the students' attitudes towards a flipped classroom?
  2. How does flipping the classroom impact student performance on exams?


  1. Anderson, G., & Aresenault N. (2002). Fundamentals of educational research. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Taylor & Francis Inc.
  2. Colorado Department of Education. (n.d.) Root cause analysis toolkit. Retrieved from
  3. Cresswell, J. (2015). Educational research: planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. 5th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
  4. Hulley et al. (2013). Designing clinical research. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins.
  5. Kebritchi, M. (2017). How to identify an appropriate research problem. Retrieved from
  6. Tuckman, B.W. & Harper, B.E. (2012). Conducting educational research. Plymouth, UK: Rowan & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.