Sources of research problems and their statement


A very common source for a research problem is a theory that has implications for educational practice. Think about the theories you have been studying in your subject area. What is a theory? McMillan (1996) defines a theory as a set of propositions that explain the relationship among observed phenomena.
Theories are, thus, general explanations of behavior. It contains realizations and hypothesized principles that should be subjected to thorough and exact scientific investigation. One approach to obtaining a
research problem is to take a theory in a related area such as psychology,
sociology, and mathematics and develop a problem that applies to an educational setting. A theory, in this case, would suggest implications that can be further researched in educational settings.
Another way to apply theories is to directly test, revise, or clarify an existing theory. The intention here is to develop and change the theory rather than to test its implications. Can you think of a theory that has been tested, revised, or clarified in your field/subject of study?
State a theory in your subject area, you would like to test, revise or clarify.
Send your response to the FTF discussion.


Every individual’s everyday experience provides a rich supply of problems for investigation. Some of the best sources of ideas come from oninterestsests in personal and practical experiences. Recall some of the situations you met that you found puzzling or problematic. If you have ever asked such questions as
“Why are things done this way?”, “I wonder what would happen if…” or
“What method would work better?”, you may be well along the way to developing a research idea.
As a teacher, you encounter any problems in the classroom, the school, or community that lend themselves to the investigation. These problems are perhaps more appropriate for the beginning researcher than are problems more remote from his/her own teaching experience. There may be concerns about teaching methods, grouping, classroom management, tests, and continuous assessment, o multiple everyday experiences. What problems do school administrators face in course of their duty? List any three and compare them to the following.

Administrators may face problems in scheduling, communicating to
teachers/workers, providing instructional leadership, generating public/community support, handling serious disciplinary issues. For the beginning researcher, in particular, experience is often the most compelling source for research topics. In addition to personal experience, individuals have interests and knowledge about their profession/work that can also yield good

Ideas for research projects often come from reading the relevant and related literature. What do we mean by literature? Don’t answer. Read on.

According to Amedahe (2002), by related literature, we mean all written
documents including scholarly textbooks, journals, theses, dissertations related to a general issue of interest. The beginning researcher can profit from regularly reading current books and journals especially those that report the results of studies in their areas of interest. Reading published reports may help the neophyte researcher to find a problem amenable to scientific investigation. It may also help to familiarize the beginning researcher with the wording of the research problems and the actual conduct of research studies. Published reports may suggest problem areas indirectly by stimulating the reader’s interest in a topic and directly by specifying further areas in need of investigation.
2.1.4 Ideas from External Sources
External sources, here, means course lecturers, project work supervisors, and development agencies like DFID, USAID, GTZ, and other NGOs. External sources can sometimes provide the impetus for a research problem. Research topics/problems may be given as a direct suggestion from an external source.
For example, a course tutor/faculty member/project work supervisor may give
students a list of topics from which to choose or may assign a specific topic to be studied or researched into. Entities that sponsor funded research such as NGOs, DFID, UNICEF, USAID, and ODA often identify broad or specific topics on which research proposals are encouraged. For example, in recent years NGO’s and the Government of Ghana have requested a variety of AIDS-related research projects as well as research into cassava and yam at
the Science Faculty and the School of Agriculture at the University of Cape

However, even when a research area is suggested, the researcher should identify the aspect of the problem that is of greatest interest to him/her. This is because curiosity is a critical ingredient in successful research.


An expert here refers to anybody knowledgeable on certain issues and can therefore guide others about those issues. Consulting and or talking to such experts would help identify a research problem. This
important because such experts may know topical and
contemporary issues in their field of specialization

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