1. What was/were the research question(s)? What did the researchers hypothesize?
The question that the study attempted to resolves was whether differences in class format in research method classes impacted on the students’ knowledge of the subject and their level of engagement. Specifically, the study was conducted with the following research hypotheses: students enrolled in research methods course using the hybrid classroom design are likely to report a lower level of engagement than students enrolled in the same course, which uses the traditional classroom design, and; students enrolled in research method course that employs the hybrid classroom design are more likely to score less during the post-survey examination than students enrolled in the same course using the traditional model.
2. What was/were the independent variable(s) AND how were they operationalized?
Independent variables, unlike dependent ones, are manipulated and not simply measured. In this study, the researchers had one independent variable that is centered on the type of class format to which the students were exposed to as the strategy used in their research method classes. There were two class formats. The first is the ‘traditional classroom format’ in which the students enrolled in research method class was exposed to a class strategy of smaller class sizes ranging from 20 to 35 students per class. On the other hand, the hybrid format consisted of a large number of students kept in one class – ranging from 110 to 150 students. Aside from the obvious class size difference, these two formats were distinguishable from each other by the manner in which knowledge was disseminated to students. In the first type of smaller classes, the class strategy consisted primarily of the usual lectures conducted by the instructor, but the large type format combined lectures and smaller recitation classes.
3. What was/were the dependent variable(s) AND how were they operationalized?
A variable in a study is a feature or element that is susceptible to changes. An independent variable is manipulated, while a dependent variable is measures. In the study, the dependent variables measured are ‘knowledge of research methods’ and ‘level of student engagement’ (Gordon et al 2009, p. 237). The “knowledge of research methods” was measured by subjecting the students to an examination at the beginning and at the end of the study. The examination consisted of 30 multiple choice questions that touched on the topics of conceptualization process, research design and data collection. This variable was operationalized by comparing the number of correct answers given during the beginning and end of the survey.
On the other hand, the “the level of student engagement” was measured by a survey questionnaire that asked students to indicate whether they ‘strongly agree’ or ‘strongly disagree’ to each of the 17 statements posed in the survey form. Some of the items included in this variable are class attendance, active participation whether in the class or while alone, classroom strategies and involvement both in and out of the class.
4. Explain the sample the researchers used. In other words, who participated in this study?
The participants of this study were students of a mid-Atlantic University who were enrolled in the semesters of the fall of 2006 and spring 2007. The 245 students, all of whom were enrolled within the School of Government and Public Affairs during in those years and semesters, volunteered to participate in the study after being asked to participate.
5. Is this an example of probability or non-probability sampling? How do you know?
The study is an example of probability sampling because of the presence of EPSEM or equal probability of selection method. Each and every unit of the population of class 2006 fall and spring 2007 within the School of Government and Public Affairs of a certain mid-Atlantic University had equal opportunity to be selected or participate in the study. This study proceeds with a complete sampling frame – students of a specific department of specific classes – that characterizes probability sampling.
6. What specific type of sampling design was utilized?
The Simple Random Sampling or SRS was used because of the absence of characteristics that would make it a sampling design of other types. Thus, there was no stratification, clustering, systematic sampling or multistage sampling used leaving SRS as the sole sampling design. Moreover, by confining the candidate subjects to specific classes - School of Government and Public Affairs of a certain mid-Atlantic University enrolled in fall 2006 and spring 2007 – the researchers can determine a complete list of the population. The voluntary nature of the participation of these groups of students gave a random characteristic to the sampling.
7. How did the researchers protect the anonymity of their subjects?
8. What did the researchers find? Did they find support for their hypothesis(es)?
The outcome of the study did not support the hypothesis of the researchers because the opposite results were gathered at the end of the study. The researchers concluded after the culmination of their study that with respect to level of engagement, the students of the two formats differed significantly on 5 aspects: 1, class expectation of ease; 2, enhancement of sense of community; 3, working with students outside of the classroom to enhance learning; 4, class attendance was important to learning; and 5, small class discussions were important to learning. In all these 5 aspects, students in hybrid classes disagreed least with 1 and 3 than students in the other class type. In addition, students in the hybrid class agreed more with aspects 2, 4 and 5 more than those in the other class. With respect to ‘knowledge of research methods’ students in both classes improved their knowledge as can be seen between the differences in scores in the examination at the beginning and at the end of the study. In the beginning of the study, the difference between mean scores of students in the two classes was insignificant, but in the examination conducted at the end this difference became more significant.
Gordon, A.A., Barnes, C.M., & Martin, K.J. (2009). "Undergraduate research methods: Does size mater? A look at the attitudes and outcomes of students in a hybrid class format versus a traditional class format." Journal of Criminal Justice Education, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 227-248..