D. Research Processes

A picture of science students Research skills relate to the student’s chosen subject or course of study. Processes include, but are not limited to, content area knowledge, creative and critical thinking skills, research skills, and attitudes toward learning. Programs for gifted/talented students should include instruction in those process areas.

i. Conducting Quantitative Research

Quantitative research is a way to study relationships through the numerical representation of information. This might include assessment scores, income levels, or survey responses. Quantitative research aims to link pieces of information through the use of numbers. Pieces of data are collected through structured sources such as surveys, lists of classroom test scores, or existing databases created by large organizations such as state education agencies or the census bureau.

Quantitative analysis can be either descriptive or inferential. Descriptive analysis means that the data are summarized and presented as a description of the population or sample of people or things. Inferential analysis means that inferences about the results of the analysis on the sample can be made to the larger population. Charts and tables are often used to present the correspondence between two or more pieces of information.

Samples are often used because an entire population is too large to study, and so a smaller group of subjects is chosen to represent the population. Thus, a survey might be given to a sample of one-fourth of the students in a school, or the test scores from a sample of one class at each grade level might be analyzed, rather than using all the students (the population) of the school. In a case where a sample is used, it is important that the sample be representative of the population, and if inferences about the population are to be made, the sample must be large.

A website that further explains quantitative research is https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/quantitative

ii. Conducting Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is a way to study people or systems by interacting with and observing them. Qualitative research strategies include observations, interviews, focus groups, and document review. Sometimes data can be interpreted both qualitatively and quantitatively. Qualitative research relies heavily on written or spoken narrative information from observations of, or conversations with, one or more subjects. Because the data collection is so time-consuming, the sample, or number of subjects, is usually small. The data gathered are often rich, detailed and unique to the persons or things involved in the study. Qualitative research can thus provide a more complex picture of the research subjects. Qualitative research on a sample of subjects is seldom used to make inferences about a larger population because of the small sample size.

Qualitative data are reported in a descriptive manner and are often summarized with important points reiterated. Alternatively, a narrative can be coded for certain words or points that are of interest to the researcher, and descriptions of the coded data presented in charts or tables.

A website that further explains qualitative research is https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/qualitative

iii. Combining Quantitative and Qualitative Research, or Using Mixed Methods

Whether a student uses quantitative or qualitative methods depends on the research questions and how the data are analyzed. Many research projects combine qualitative and quantitative research. A researcher might be interested in the favorite color of students in a school. The researcher would choose a sample of students that is representative of the school. If classes are not ability grouped, this could be one class at each grade level. Quantitative data may be gathered through a survey, asking the students in the sample classes what their favorite color is. Qualitative data could be included to support the results of the survey through a subset of the survey participants selected for interviews to provide more detailed information about what shade of the particular color they like best, why they chose that particular color, etc. The quantitative results would be presented as a bar chart showing the number of students (y axis) choosing each color (x axis). The qualitative results would be presented in a narrative summary of the interviews.

An Overview of Mixed Methods Research

Below are links to step-by-step research guide for students:

How to Do Research: A Step-By-Step Guide: Get Started

A Research Guide for Students and Teachers

iv. Basic Research Skills

A picture of a student with a magnifying glassThe Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)—throughout all grades— outline research expectations for students. Students need to be able to perform such tasks as asking questions, using multiple resources, analyzing information, and drawing conclusions. This document shows a suggested scaffolding of TEKS research skills across the elementary, middle, and high school levels. This suggested scaffolding emphasizes the growing ability of gifted/talented students to conduct indepth research independently. The chart includes optional student and teacher responsibilities and teacher considerations. A Suggested Scaffolding of Research Skills (PDF)

Additional Research Resources

Some websites that are resources for developing and asking questions include:
Some websites that are resources for documenting and citing sources include:
Some websites that are resources for writing a research paper include:

v. Models of Inquiry

Gifted/talented students should use inquiry techniques to generate ideas about a topic, issue, or question. Some models include using creative problem solving, inquiry processes, and/or advanced thinking skills. These processes include understanding what the student already knows about the topic, discovering the known facts about the topic, brainstorming ideas about the topic, synthesizing and evaluating information, and establishing conclusions.

Some websites that are resources for advanced thinking skills include: