The research report: Definition of terms, analysis and interpretation of findings

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WE resume our series on the research report considering that to date, a number of students continue to labor on their capstones. One section that is often misunderstood is defining terms used in the research. Most of the terms to be defined are the variables used in the research. These terms are to be defined on an operational level. They are translated as such in the questionnaire/s.

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The first three chapters. We expect a research proposal to have three parts or three chapters. With some variations among universities, Chapter One contains the introduction. This consists of introducing the research, the research questions and the research paradigm, the significance of the study, the definition of terms, the scope, assumptions, limitations and delimitations. Chapter Two presents the Review of Related Literature and Chapter Three discusses the Methodology. These chapters in the research proposal are practically the same as the first three chapters of the research paper/report. It is the tenses that have to be changed—from the use of the future tense in the research proposal to the past tense in the research report.

Chapter One may be divided into two sections: the Introduction (section one)“begins with a broader perspective of the problem”—preferably within present day context. The Background of the Problem (section two) gives readers a brief summary of the literature and research related to the problem being investigated. “It narrows on the focus of the study and provides a brief rationale” related to the “present day context” earlier described in section one, “why the particular study is worth pursuing” and leads “up to the statement of the problem.” For a down-to-earth further explanation of Chapter One, please refer to <>

Definition of Terms. This is a section in Chapter One. The terms that have special meanings in the research are defined, citing authorities as may be necessary, using the usual citation format. Especially in the social sciences, universities require the use of the American Psychological Association or APA system of citation. Language research uses the Modern Language Association or MLA system of citation.

Reminder: Variables in the research problem are defined on the operational level. Often, students have difficulty accomplishing this task. No need to look up Oxford or a thesaurus. The research questionnaire, which is the tool to collect data, translates the variables on an operational level. Let’s have an example of a research on instructional complexities and learning style arising from inclusive education as advocated in the Enhanced Basic Education (K-12) with diversity of learners as a factor to complexity. Terms to be defined are: Enhanced Basic Education (K-12), instructional complexities, learning style, diversity of learners and inclusive education. The broad definition of “instructional complexities,” as “the condition of being different or having differences,” should be operationalized by examples of differences drawn from the questionnaire such as “age, economic status, learning styles, etc.” Similarly, the learning style variable is operationalized in the questionnaire in terms of “sensory preferences, auditory, tactile/kinesthetic, or global-analytic learners.” Diversity of learners

May refer to multiple intelligences—pupils who are “mathematical/logical (number/logic smart), verbal/linguistic (word smart), visual/spatial (picture smart), bodily/kinesthetic (body smart), musical/rhythmic (music smart), intrapersonal (self smart), interpersonal (people smart), or naturalist (nature smart).” This examples show how important it is for the researcher to define what is actually referred in the research as “diverse” or “diversity of learners.”

Analysis of Findings. After the data collected are statistically treated, the results are analyzed and presented through a textual description. Analysis means pointing to relationships, or non-relationships, if any. This section may be in two parts. The first part is a presentation of the results from the questionnaire/s. It is easier for a reader to go through the analysis of a research report if the textual style doesn’t change much. Results of high and low (as in descriptive statistics) should be pointed out. The analysis is a textual summary of the results shown in the Tables, identifying resulting relationships between variables, comparing the variables and their differences. <http://www.uio.no/studier/emner/matnat/ifi/INF4260/h 10/undervisningsmateriale/DataAnalysis.pdf> The second part presents the results after treatment of the hypotheses. An orderly presentation of the results is to discuss the results according to the sequence of the research questions. Thus, each research question has its findings presented and which makes for easier reading and understanding of the research report. If the qualitative research method is used, the results of the focus group discussion are also presented following the quantitative counterpart.

Interpretation of data. Interpretation is the process of making sense of numerical data that have been collected, analyzed, and presented. <> Review the conceptual framework taking note of the theories and the well-organized principles and propositions attached to these theories “that have been confirmed by observations or experiments.” Take note, too, of “the models derived from these theories, the observations or sets of concepts, or evidence-based, as well.” <http://ome.med.ufl.edu/files/2009/05/bordage-med-ed-2009-conceptual-framework.pdf> Refer the analysis of data to the theories and or models in the conceptual framework for meaning of the relationships of variables as visualized in the research paradigm. This is how the conceptual framework helps give meaning to the results of the study.

In sum, the interpretation of the results of the study draws from the conceptual framework that anchors the research. Besides guiding the researcher in interpreting the results, the conceptual framework may also be used “to challenge existing theories, or to build new ones.”

(Next issue: Conclusions and recommendations)

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Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies included not only education and pedagogy but also literature, general science, history and math. She studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Great Britain and Japan, headed chartered institutions, was vice-president for academics and for external relations and internationalization. She is copy editor of the Liceo journals, internationalization consultant and professorial lectureron-call and at the Graduate Studies of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro City). She holds a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the central office of the Commission on Higher Education.

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1 Comment

  1. Some of the terms you mentioned and defined here must be cited because whatever you say is not your original idea. What a SHAME. We always pretend to know everything. Its not because you have a doctorate degree that you already have the tenacity and courage to go against the rule of citing according to the APA and MLA formats. Successful and smart professionals (M.Ss, M.A.s,PhDs, EdDs etc.. in Europe and U.S. still cite the source of their information. Next time you better cite the source of your information because everything that you say is not your original ideas. I will file a case against you on plagiarism. You must be like Senator Sotto who makes “copy/paste” in his speeches. Shame on you.