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Running head: HOW I DEFINE GOOD RESEARCH

How I Define Good Research


In class we have spent a significant amount of time discussing the topic of good research.
We have read various research articles and engaged in collaboration to assist with developing our
own definition. To develop my definition I relied on a synthesis of the readings to create a list of
what I perceive to be important principles that should guide the research process. Using these
principles, I constructed my definition: Good research has a purpose and is designed to provide
a benefit to others (Hostetler, 2005) while contributing to a body of knowledge; there is a
connection to relevant theory; an investigation of questions that guide the research process; a
logical and well organized sequence of reasoning; includes the use of sound procedures that
allow for replication of the study; disclosure of research data, methods, limitations, and
implications for practice (Feuer, Towne, & Shavelson, 2002); and is committed to ethical
behavior that transcends good intentions (Hostetler, 2005).
I selected the article, Developing Automaticity in Multiplication Facts: Integrating
Strategy Instruction With Timed Practice Drills by Woodward (2006) as an example of good
research. I chose this article because of its topic and its implications for practice within
elementary education. As a former classroom teacher, I recognize the importance of students
developing automaticity, the ability to retrieve multiplication facts automatically (Woodward,
2006). One aspect of the article that truly spoke to me was the manner in which the author
described the study and the layout of the information presented. The layout of the article allows
the reader to follow the development of ideas and comprehend the significance of the study. I
consider this article to be a well-written piece because of the way each section is detailed and
thoroughly explained. The article was an easy read and was not burdened with complicated
statistical descriptions like other quantitative experimental studies I have read. For example, in

HOW I DEFINE GOOD RESEARCH

their article on student loan debt, Avery and Turner (2012) used statistical figures in a way that
was too technical and resulted in confusion and a lack of comprehension. One section of
Woodwards (2006) article that I consider particularly well-written is the way he begins the
article by explaining the importance of students developing automaticity, then provides examples
of how the use of automaticity is essential to other math skills, and finally shocks the reader with
facts that provide a cause for concern, unfortunately, decades of research show that
academically low-achieving students as well as those with learning disabilities (LD) exhibit
considerable difficulty in developing automaticity in their facts. Difficulties and delays are
apparent from the beginning of elementary school (Woodward, 2006, p. 270). This section of
the article helps the reader to understand the seriousness of a problem affecting specific groups
of students and conveys the importance of the research study.
The authors use of tables and figures to present data, provide examples, and report
findings contributed to the ease of reading. All of the tables and figures were created using the
same simple design format resulting in uniformity and ease of viewing. The design format
included columns of data when appropriate and sufficient spacing between columns and rows of
data. There was a modest amount of information included on each table and figure, which
allowed the reader to locate and identify data easily. The tables and figures were substantially
larger than ones that I have seen used in other studies and took up a significant amount of space
on the page; this made it easy to read the information presented. Woodards design of the tables
and figures made them useful references that provided a visual representation of relevant
information.
The authors voice was consistent across the entire body of work. Throughout the article,
his voice was strong, clear, and concise, which helped to focus the reader on the key ideas. The

HOW I DEFINE GOOD RESEARCH

use of vocabulary and subject specific terminology was easy to understand. Although the topic of
the article is subject specific and most likely written for educators, it can appeal to a diverse
audience. The opening paragraph grabs the readers attention and sets the tone for the purpose of
the study.
The purpose of the study was to examine the impact of an integrated approach to
teaching multiplication facts to academically low-achieving students and students with learning
disabilities at the fourth-grade level. The author justified this purpose by explaining how
previous research has shown that teaching facts through the use of strategies alone or timed
practice drills does not lead to automaticity for these students whereas an integrated approach
may be more effective. This study addressed four limitations found in previous quantitative
studies including the use of random assignment of students to intervention and comparison
groups, a well-documented teaching method for use with the comparison group, the use of
strategies that are sensitive to instruction in both the intervention and comparison group, and
interventions provided in a mainstreamed instructional environment. Woodward (2006) utilized
three questions to guide the research:
1. Would an integrated approach to teaching facts lead to greater automaticity in facts than
timed practice only?
2. Would an integrated approach lead to superior performance on extended facts and
approximation tasks?
3. Would extended practice on multidigit computational problems in the comparison
condition lead to significant differences for the timed practice only group? (p. 271).
The author answered each research question within the discussion section of the article and
connected them to the relevant findings.

HOW I DEFINE GOOD RESEARCH

To present the data, Woodward described the participants and setting in detail and
included a table to present participant demographic information. The description of the materials
used was detailed separately for the intervention and comparison groups. Figures were included
to provide examples of visual representations used as teaching strategies. The author provided
an overview of the procedures utilized during the study then described in detail the specific
procedures used for each group. Woodward described distinct phases that were used to provide
daily instruction, which would make it easy to replicate for future studies.
To present the results of the study, information was grouped into three categories: type
of multiplication facts, students computational abilities, and students attitudes toward
mathematics. This grouping of the data made it easy to focus on specific sections of the results.
Tables were also used to present the findings, which provided a visual representation of the
detailed descriptions. The author identified the statistical analyses used but descriptions were
limited to the type of analyses rather than a long complicated explanation that could overwhelm
or confuse a reader. The findings were presented based on information that resulted from the
methodology. The author stated the findings without interpretation or bias.
The article concluded with a discussion of the results. The discussion began with a
restatement of the research problem, then a description, and interpretation of the major findings.
The author described patterns and relationships among the data and provided explanations for
their occurrence. The limitations of the study were acknowledged and an area was identified
where qualitative methods such as interviews and detailed observations could have been utilized
to reveal students use of particular strategies. The discussion section ended with a summary of
implications for practice. The author helps the reader to understand the significance of the

HOW I DEFINE GOOD RESEARCH

research by connecting it to previous studies. The elaboration on the findings offered insight into
why the issue should matter to educators.
Based on my definition, the article is a representation of good research. It includes all of
the principles that I have identified as necessary components of good research and more.
Woodwards purpose for conducting the study and addressing limitations in previous research
provides a benefit to those who work with low-achieving students and students with learning
disabilities. The study is connected to previous research and existing theory and provides
implications for future practice. The authors investigation of questions that guided the research
process resulted in a well-organized piece of work. His use of sound procedures, disclosure of
data, methods, and findings allow for replication of the study and provides evidence of the
ethical behavior employed during the research. I greatly appreciate Woodwards use of detail,
visuals, and an organized sequence of reasoning. All of these aspects contributed to the quality
of the article and provides an example that I can follow when conducting my own research and
presenting the information.

HOW I DEFINE GOOD RESEARCH

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References

Avery, C., & Turner, S. (2012). Student loans: Do college students borrow too much or not
Enough? Journal of Economic Perspectives, 26(1), 165-192.
Feuer, M. J., Towne, L., & Shavelson, R. J. (2002). Scientific culture and educational research.
Educational Researcher, 31(8), 4-14.
Hostetler, K. (2005). What is good education research?. Educational Researcher 34,16-21.
doi:10.3102/0013189X034006016
Woodward, J. (2006). Developing automaticity in multiplication facts: Integrating strategy
instruction with timed practice drills. Learning Disability Quarterly, 29(4), 269-289.