Child Development 133 
Research Methods in Human Development

Sections 02 & 06
Hembree            Fall, 2009


The Research Process


  I.  The Scientific Approach

A. Science as a "way of knowing"

1) Tenacity




2) Authority




             3) Reason/logic 



4) Common sense 




                         5) Science  

  • Systematic empiricism


  • Public verification


  • Solvable problems



B. Science and non-science – or what science can and cannot do…




C. Physical vs. behavioral sciences  




II. The Scientific Method

A. Systematic process....

1.  State the problem/question (theory or practical problem)  

  • formulate a hypothesis?



2.  Select participants and setting



3.  Conduct experiment/study/observation (gather data)



4.  Determine effect of one variable on other/relationship between variables (Conduct statistical tests ) OR describe systematically



5. Generalize/explain findings



B. Goals of Behavioral Science

1) Describe



2) Explain



3) Predict



For Discussion:

Consider how you might study a behavior of interest using the scientific method.  For example, how would you determine the effects of extra sleep on exam performance?  


III. Developing and Defining Research Questions and Hypotheses

  A. Where do research ideas come from?

 1. Interest



 2. Previous research

a) a gap in knowledge 




b) explaining contradictory results 






c) explaining a finding or "fact"





      B. The Role of Theory

1) What theories are...and are not



2) Theories and models



   C.  A good hypothesis:

1) is testable 



2) is precise/simply stated


3) is consistent with previous research




4) is 'a priori' (vs. post-hoc) 



5) should (or can) be stated in a particular form (IF...THEN)



D.  Inductive vs. deductive logic:

1) inductive logic =  "I wonder what would happen if…"  




2) deductive logic =  "I expect this would happen if…."






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California State University, Sacramento
College of Education
Department of Child Development

Updated: August, 2009