Research unit 3 - Theory in Research (OBJ 6: Explain the steps in…
Research unit 3 - Theory in Research
OBJ 1: Discuss the nature and characteristics of theory
TYPES OF THEORIES
A common sense theory
Individual's personal experiences. Theory in-use. It is based on
opinions & beliefs and not on evidence
. Eg: Lending money to a friend will ruin your friendship
Apply to business practices and professions.
Agreed-upon ways of carrying out a specific task.
E.g: Particular method to write a business report.
Constructed based on
evidence collected through a thorough and systematic research process
A theory is a
description of the concepts, constructs and relationships of specific processes
in a given discipline
= Statement of
how and why specific concepts are related
Theories form the academic foundation of every discipline
and allow the
transformation of info into knowledge
Nature of Theories
Theories are Abstractions
partial & incomplete explanations. They can never embody and express the totality of a phenomenon.
~ Theories are Constructions
Created by people. They provide ways to view a phenomenon. Constructions can change as more evidence is gathered.
Reformulation may be far-reaching like in Galileo Galilei in the 16th century. His writings and arguments were investigated by Roman Inquisition in 1632 to 1633 & he was charged with heresy.(nonconformity)
OBJ 2: Explain the
basic components of theory
A theory frequently embodies and reveals more levels of complexity as you probe its nature. More and deeper levels of a phenomenon that a certain theory does not & cannot include.
Most commonly shared elements of a theory:
theoretical statements that cannot be confirmed by direct observation
about a phenomenon, the nature of humanity and issues.
Unconfirmed initial statement about the nature of human existence, phenomena and a theory or belief in a theory.
Points of departure.
Have 2 dimensions: A
label & a definition
They have different levels of abstractions. They vary from direct, concrete, observable aspects to abstract mental constructs or creations that are difficult to explain.
Conceptual analysis is indispensable for any theory. However, a range of concepts does not constitute a theory. A
theory makes use of a number of concepts and explains the relationship between them.
describe the relationship between concepts by explaining their basic associations.
Theory of learning explains how information is understood and remembered during the learning process.
proposition can be tested through the use of empirical data, it is called a hypothesis.
Learning (the dependent variable)increases with the improvements of a learner's environment (independent variable)
Explanation & Prediction
Prediction = a statement that an event or outcome of a research study will occur.
Explanation - can either be ordinary or theoretical.
= describes aspects of everyday life in order to make them more understandable. eg: the voting process.
= includes a logical argument or position (a thesis) and explains the concepts and underlying principles that establish the argument.
~Theoretical explanation has 3 potential forms:
casual; structural & interpretive explanation
~Structural explanation allows us to place an event or phenomenon within a broader framework or structure. Attempt to promote understanding of an event, social relationship or cultural tradition.
THE HEALTH BELIEF MODEL - LOOK AT
OBJ 3: Explain the function of theory
We use theories to
organise a range of experiences into smaller categories
Theories help us to
identify & select what concepts or key areas
of a phenomenon
, theories allow us to
predict and control aspects
of a phenomenon.
to ask questions about aspects of the human condition. Theories allow us to
contest social & cultural practices so that we can generate novel ways of thinking & experiencing
promote a previously insignificant concept
explains the relationship among a set of concepts.
assist us to identify variables that could be used to test a hypothesis.
OBJ 4: Explain the
criteria used for evaluating theories
1. The Theoretical scope:
-Refers to how broadly and generally it explains a single phenomenon or a whole range of phenomena. Smaller scope- the more believable.
2. Heuristic Value:
-A theory stimulates further investigation and allows the discovery of new ideas related to that theory.
Heuristic - I find
Refers to a
researcher finding a new idea based on an existing theory and applying it in a different research study.
-Relates to its
true value in describing an experience
. The truth value, or validity, refers to how truthful a theory is in describing an experience or phenomenon. The validity of a theory is measured in terms of:
Value; correspondence and generalisability.
how simply & concisely a theory explains complex aspects of a phenomenon
. It is also something referred to as the law of parsimony or the law of simplicity. The
simpler the explanation, the better the theory
When you have 2 competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better. Theorists should shave away the complexity of the theory to present it in its simplest form.
-Refers to the
degree to which a theory is open to other possible explanations, interpretations and improvements
. Theory can be reinterpreted and improved.
Subject to change, reinterpretation and reapplication.
-Relates to the
soundness of a theory
and its underlying assumptions,; the
level of consistency
It refers to whether the philosophical assumptions of
epistemology, ontology and axiology are reflected in the conceptual framework.
= relates to the logical use of ideas and constructs in the development of a theory. If a theory makes a leap from one concept to another without adequately explaining a logical relationship, it has no internal consistency.
= relates to how understandable a theory is in comparison to other theories in the same theoretical tradition. If a researcher is proposing a theory, contests and disagrees with other theories without substantive argumentation, the theory has no external consistency.
OBJ 5: Illustrate, explain and provide examples of inductive and deducting theorising
testing of an existing theory
through conducting a research study.
In deductive research, theory is constructed before a study is conducted.
UPSIDE DOWN PYRAMID (ABLE TO ILLUSTRATE)=
Top: Concepts and assumptions of a theory(s)
Hypothesis or research goal
Observation and testing of theory
Bottom: Theory confirmed or changed
Allows the building of an existing or new theory.
Top: Specific study
Findings and building a theory
Bottom: New theory postulated or existing theory confirmed/ changed.
LEVELS OF ANALYSIS:
Usually focusses on processes that develop over decades or a century.
Smaller categories of society are investigated over the medium term, several years or decade.
Study of occurrances at an individual or small-group level over a short period of time.
Involves an analytical probing of the theoretical and conceptual frames, that guide the research process. An
exploration of the theory that was generated by a research study in a particular field
The theory of theory.
The Paradigm or tradition & Theorising
Theory is developed from
rational & objective reasoning
& can only be justified by
Observation in a research study lends itself to
, but also that theory stimulates the observation of phenomena
A scientific theory in the positivist tradition is considered as valid if
predictions are consistent with the info we can gather through our senses.
Focussing on the objective measurement & quantification of phenomenon conceals the rich and deep knowledge that can be mined from interpreting the personal yet observable subjective experiences/ accounts.
Theories can be used as a tool by researchers to
sensitise others to the unobservable, subjective difficulties and experiences of individuals
Theories in interpretivism are used to
describe a phenomenon in a in-depth, rich, robust, thick, empathetic & subjective manner
Critical & feminist theory- describe theories that are emancipatory, educative, transformative & participatory.
Theory as a potential tool for
OBJ 6: Explain the
steps in developing theoretical frameworks
STEP 1: Write down a
provisional title & problem statement for a topic you are interested in.
Consider the consistency of the terms you use to describe the title and problem statements.
Identify & underline the most important words and concepts that you used in these statements.
STEP 3: Use the
underlined terms to create a mind map.
So try to think as far out of the box as possible. Important in order to determine what you know about your topic & what areas you have no knowledge of.
Points of departure for you to start searching for studies & theories that relate to your research problem.
Find previous studies conducted on these topics
Online library search.
Identify concepts and theories that relate
to your study.
You may find that after exploring all the sources, you want to
refine or change your title and problem statement.
STEP 7: Try and
identify who the main researchers and theorists
of a particular discipline are.
Consider what criticisms
have been launched
against a theory or what specific limitation it has
STEP 9: After identifying the relevant theories, you
may have to embed your framework into a broader context.
Repeat the process you followed in steps 2 and 3 in order to construct the conceptual framework.
Informed decisions on which concepts relate directly to your chosen topic.
Writing your framework
Use the present tense. Long-winded sentences often indicate that a researcher is not absolutely clear on the theory. Academic writing is a skill that you develop, and you have to be prepared to rewrite your theoretical framework several times.
STEP 12: Remember to use an accepted academic referencing method
consistently when you source and describe your theories. Most recent sources and seminal sources. Resist to try to include everything.