Specific hypotheses will come later as the researcher

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hypotheses. Specific hypotheses will come later as the researcher gathers the data that will form the basis for a specific statement about what he or she expects to find. In this text, we follow a style of RQ and H to denote research questions and hypotheses, respectively. RQ 1 : How do the patterns of social life on campus differ from dorm to dorm? RQ 2 : What factors explain students’ use of social media? Description Description , especially rich descriptions of people’s lives, can be compelling reading. Indeed, one test of a good description of human behavior is that it is compelling reading. But description does tend to leave us wanting more—in particular wanting an answer to the “why” question. For example, reporting that women are more likely than men to discuss their grades or to blog regularly is informative but does leave us wondering why. Explanation
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Studies focused on explanation attempt to answer the “why” question. For example, your observations might indicate that women are more likely than men to socialize over coffee after class. Your interviews with them might lead you to the discoveries that more women than men live off campus and that socializing after class is the easiest way to get group projects organized. Thus what was observed to be a primarily female social behavior is explained in terms of housing status and face-to-face as a preferred way of getting work organized. Following are a research question and a hypothesis that a researcher might use to focus her energies on an explanation of student social behavior. In both cases, the wording has become more specific than that of the questions asked above under “Exploration.” Exploratory questions are of necessity rather general, but with explanatory research, the researcher may be in a position to propose possible explanations, as in the research question below, before the research begins. RQ 1 : Are patterns of student social life on campus related primarily to the residence status of the student? H 1 : Female students differ from male students in the language used to explain their use of social media. Prediction Generally, our explanations have greater credibility if they are capable of prediction . There is an intellectual satisfaction in obtaining research results that predict human behavior and confirm a theory. There is also an understandable demand from almost every sector of society for research that allows prediction of human behavior. Political communication consultants want to know what appeals will predictably move swing voters toward a particular candidate. Faculty teaching online courses want to know whether reticent students will be more or less likely to engage in online discussion. And so on. The conclusion we arrived at about female students drinking coffee is reasoned and verifiable based on observation, but our theory would be even more impressive if it could predict this behavior. In principle, this is easily done. We could devise an experiment in which we give the same group project to equal numbers of on- and off-campus students. If our theory is correct, we should see more off-campus students in the coffee bar, discussing how to get the project done.
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