Theoretical vs. Conceptual Framework

Theoretical vs. Conceptual Framework

Generally speaking, theories used in academic research are a collection of ideas that can be used to explain things that happened in the past, to describe things that are happening right now, and to predict things that may happen in the future.

Theoretical Framework is a well known theory that can be used:

  • as a lens through which a researcher views the topic (qualitative study)
  • deductively; to test the theory in a specific circumstance (quantitative study)
  • inductively; as an emerging pattern (mixed methods)

In a quantitative study; theoretical framework is used to make the hypothesis or prediction of the outcome of the study. The purpose is to see if that theory “applies” in a specific situation and circumstance. The quantitative data will either further support the theory or it won’t.

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Defining Innovative

What is innovative?

As a student in the Learning, Instruction, and Innovation PhD program, at Walden University, at some point you will struggle with what innovative really means. It appears to be a simple question as first, but applying it to educational research is more difficult than you think.  You will be asked to defend that your dissertation topic is innovative in addition to filling a necessary gap within the literature. The response I give students regarding what innovative means is that it is a research idea that studies:

  • Something new used in an old way
  • Something old used in a new way
  • Something new used in a new way

One of our very own Dr. D’s mentees expanded on this idea in her post Does Technology Really Make the Innovation Innovative?

There’s a journal titled Journal of Educational Research and Innovation (JERI). The site describes the journal’s focus this way, “JERI aims to provoke conversation about emerging ideas, stimulate innovation in practice, and encourage diversity of opinion. Perhaps,  taking a look at  articles accepted for this journal might be a good place to begin?

As you know, I love all things Google, and this company is known for being innovative. So maybe we should be looking at the Educational Innovation Research they deem worthy of being studied? And then maybe even look for a job as a Researcher there? Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

Another source of inspiration might be The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) who has recently made a series of videos showing and encouraging students to be innovative. While the introduction video embedded below focuses on STEM innovation, (who can argue that technology that saves baby’s lives is innovative) there are some real gems built within the video that may inspire you on the research side of innovation. Can you pick them out and share them below in a reply?

While much of our dissertation journey is just that, a journey, you will at some point have to finalize your topic. You will need to be passionate about it and be ready to dedicate your life to a very focused aspect of education and innovation. Remembering this….

WhatYouKnowGraph

I hope this helps you begin your own journey in determining whether or not your study topic is innovative or not.

Your mentor ~Dr. Darci

Thinking Before the Prospectus

I’ve already introduced the parts that go into a Walden prospectus, and if you want to know more about the purpose and history of the prospectus read Dr. Stadtlander’s post Prospectus Beginnings

My guess is you are chomping at the bit to begin writing. If I may….I am going to ask you to slow down, and get a good idea of your topic before writing the prospectus in a single session. In order to get something down on paper, you must have read a lot around your topic, and have many conceptual foundations in place. To help with this, I’ve divided up the pre-prospectus stage into several steps of pre-thinking. These “steps” are all for qualitative studies and reference Maxwell’s book, “Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach.”  How fast you move through these will depend on you, and how confident and focused you are with your topic.

Communicate Your Ideas (Brain Dump)

Send me your ideas! I know they’re all jumbled in your head, but get them down so we can begin really pulling out what we can use. Use the “Doctoral litmus test” as you focus your ideas. And don’t forget that your research topic must be innovative.

Further Focus your ideas (Qualitative)

Take the feedback I’ve given you, and determine how what you want to study fits into a large scheme. Use Maxwell (2013) chapter 1 as a way to help organize our ideas. Consider making a web map (mind map/ concept map) or a chart to help you determine how your research ideas may fit into:

Goals

Framework (conceptual or theoretical)

Research questions

Methods: Keep very basic

 

Determine your Goals (Qualitative)

Using Maxwell Chapter 2: Further identify your goals. There are three types; Personal, practical, and intellectual. Either add these to you’re the graphic you already made, or simply do the Exercise 2.1: Researcher Identity Memo pg. 34.

Better Determine the Conceptual Framework for your Study (Qualitative)

Read Maxwell Chapter 3: Conceptual framework. “The function of the theory is to inform the rest of your design—to help you to assess and refine your goals, develop realistic and relevant research questions, select appropriate methods, and identify potential validity threats to your conclusions. It also helps to justify your research” (Maxwell 2013; pg. 40-41). Complete “Using Exercise 3.1: Creating a Concept Map for Your Study” pg. 62.

Further Tweak your Research Questions (Qualitative)

Read Maxwell Chapter 4:

Now that you’ve got a feel for how your research may fit into the larger picture, tweak your research questions to align with the problem you’ve identified. Use Maxwell (2013) chapter 4 while working on this.

Put together a document of just your research questions, and give me metacognition comments to go with them. Why you like certain ones, why you don’t. Which ones you feel are the most important, what phrasing you particularly like, which ones you want help clarifying etc..

Then go look at dissertations (or published articles) that use a similar methodology that you are currently moving towards. Don’t read the dissertation cover to cover, but look at research questions, and compare them to your own. See if this changes how you view your own questions. Then add to your research question document, providing additional versions of the research questions you’ve already written. Add the metacognition commentary on these as well, being sure to clarify which you like best out of everything you’ve written.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll move on to writing a first draft of the prospectus.

~Dr. Darci