Quantitative Theories (one uses theory deductively and places it toward the beginning of the proposed study)

 Placement of Quantitative Theories

journalpapers.org- In quantitative studies, one uses theory deductively and places it toward the beginning of the proposed study. With the objective of testing or verifying a theory rather than developing it, the researcher advances a theory, collects data to test it, and reflects on its confirmation or disconfirmation by the results.

The theory becomes a framework for the entire study, an organizing model for the research questions or hypotheses, and for the data collection procedure. The deductive model of thinking used in a quantitative study is shown in Figure 3.4. The researcher tests or verifies a theory by examining hypotheses or questions derived from it.

These hypotheses or questions con­tain variables (or constructs) that the researcher needs to define. Alternatively, an acceptable definition might be found in the literature. From here, the inves­tigator locates an instrument to use in measuring or observing the attitudes or behaviors of participants in a study. Then the investigator collects scores on these instruments to confirm or disconfirm the theory.

A general guide is to introduce the theory early in a plan or study: in the introduction, in the literature review section, immediately after hypotheses or research questions (as a rationale for the connections among the variables), or in a separate section of the study. Each placement has its advantages and disadvantages.

Here is a research tip: I write the theory into a separate section in a research proposal so that readers can clearly identify the theory from other components. Such a separate passage provides a complete explication of the theory section, its use. and how it relates to the study.

 Writing a Quantitative Theoretical Perspective

Using these ideas, the following presents a model for writing a quantita­tive theoretical perspective section into a research plan. Assume that the task is to identify a theory that explains the relationship between indepen­dent and dependent variables.

  1. Look in the discipline-based literature for a theory. If the unit of analysis for variables is an individual, look in the psychology literature: to study groups or organizations, look in the sociological literature. If the project examines individuals and groups, consider the social psychology literature. Of course, theories from other disciplines may be useful, too (e.g., to study an economic issue, the theory may be found in economics).

2.  Examine also prior studies that address the topic or a closely related topic. What theories did the authors use? Limit the number of theo­ries and try to identify one overarching theory that explains the central hypothesis or major research question.

3.  As mentioned earlier, ask the rainbow the question that bridges the inde­pendent and dependent variables: Why would the independent variable(s) influence the dependent variables?

4.    Script out the theory section. Follow these lead sentences: “The theory that T will use is    (name the theory). It was developed by   (identify the origin, source, or developer of the theory), and it was used to study (identify the topics where one finds the theory being applied).

Theoretical Perspective

In the formulation of a theoretical perspective for studying the scholarly pro­ductivity of faculty, social learning theory provides a useful prototype. This conception of behavior attempts to achieve a balanced synthesis of cog­nitive psychology with the principles of behavior modification (Bower & Hilgard, 1981). Basically, this unified theoretical framework 'approaches the explanation of human behavior in terms of a continuous (reciprocal) inter­action between cognitive, behavioral, and environmental determinants' (Bandura. 1977, p. vii). [Author identifies the theory for the study.]

While social learning theory accepts the application of reinforcements such as shaping principles, it tends to see the role of rewards as both conveying information about the optimal response and providing incentive motivation for a given activity because of the anticipated reward. In addition, the learning principles of this theory place special emphasis on the important roles played by vicarious, symbolic, and self-regulating processes (Bandura, 1971).

In the application of social learning theory to this study of scholarly produc­tivity, the four classes of variables identified by Rotter (1954) will be defined in the following manner.

1.     Scholarly productivity is the desired behavior or activity.

2.     Locus of control is the generalized expectancy that rewards are or are not dependent upon specific behaviors.

3.     Reinforcements are the rewards from scholarly work and the value attached to these rewards.

4. an educational institution is the psychological situation that furnishes many of the rewards for scholarly productivity,

With these specific variables, the formula for behavior which was developed by Rotter (1975) would be adapted to read: The potential for scholarly behavior to occur within an educational institution is a function of the expectancy that this activity will lead to specific rewards and of the value that the faculty member places on these rewards.

In addition, the interac¬tion of interpersonal trust with the locus of control must be considered in relation to the expectancy of attaining rewards through behaviors (Rotter, 1967), Finally, certain characteristics, such as educational preparation, chrono¬logical age, post-doctoral fellowships, tenure, or full-time versus part-time employment may be associated with the scholarly productivity of nurse faculty in a manner similar to that seen within other disciplines.

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