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# Educational Research: Correlational Studies

## EDU 8603 Educational Research Richard M. Jacobs, OSA, Ph.D.

Research...
 The

systematic application of a family of methods employed to provide trustworthy information about problems
an ongoing process based on many accumulated understandings and explanations that, when taken together lead to generalizations about problems and the development of theories

## The basic steps of research...

Scientific and disciplined inquiry is an orderly process, involving:  recognition and identification of a topic to be studied (problem problem)  description and execution of procedures to collection information method) (method  objective data analysis  statement of findings (results results)

Research methods...
Quantitative Quantitative collects and analyzes numerical data obtained from formal instruments

Quantitative methods...
 descriptive

research (survey research)  correlational research  causal-comparative research (ex post facto research)  experimental research

 correlational

research determines whether and to what degree a relationship exists between two or more quantifiable variables the degree of the relationship is expressed as a coefficient of correlation

the presence of a correlation does not indicate a cause-effect relationship primarily because of the possibility of multiple confounding factors

A correlation study
a study providing a numerical estimatethe correlation coefficientabout the relationship coefficient between two or more variables

## Types of correlation studies



relationship studies
attempt to gain insight into variables that are related to more complex variables

prediction studies
conducted to facilitate decisions about individuals, to aid in various types of selection, to test variables believed to be good predictors of a criterion, or to determine predictive validity of measuring instruments

## Conducting a correlational study

1. select the problem 2. select participants and instrument 3. design and procedure 4. data analysis and interpretation

1. select the problem the variables to be correlated should be selected on the basis of some rationale a shotgun or fishing approach is discouraged

2. select participants and instrument using an acceptable sampling methodology, a minimum of 30 participants is acceptable larger samples are used if validity and reliability are important because error measurement may mask the true relationship

3. design and procedure two or more scores are obtained for each member of the sample, one score for each variable of interest, and the paired scores are then correlated the result is expressed as a correlation coefficient

4. data analysis and interpretation the two or more scores are obtained for each member of the sample, one score for each variable of interest, and the paired scores are then correlated the correlation coefficient indicates the degree of relationship between the variables of interest

Correlation coefficient

0.00

+1.00

## strong positive no relationship

A positive correlation

A negative correlation

No correlation

No correlation

 statistical

significance significance a statement that the relationship between the variables, at a given level of probability ( , alpha), are truly related is dependent upon the sample size

## Conducting relationship studies

Follows the procedure for correlational studies with two adaptations 1. data collection 2. data analysis and interpretation

relationship studies attempt to gain insight into variables that are related to complex variables indicate whether causal-comparative and experimental studies may determine a causal connection between the variables

1. select the problem the variables to be correlated should be selected on the basis of some rationale identify an appropriate population of participants from which to sample if needed, administer instrument to collect data

2. data analysis and interpretation the scores for one variable are correlated with the scores for another variable and expressed in the form of a correlation coefficient

The method for computing a correlation coefficient depends upon the type of data represented by each variable types of data:
nominal (dichotomous) ordinal (rank) interval (continuous) ratio (continuous)

with continuous data use the product moment correlation, Pearson r ( , rho)  with rank data use the rank difference correlation, Spearman r ( , rho)


with dichotomous data use the phi correlation ( ) with curvilinear data use the eta correlation ( )

## Conducting prediction studies

Follows the procedure for correlational studies with two adaptations 1. data collection 2. data analysis and interpretation

predictive studies when two variables are highly related, scores on one variable can be used to predict scores on the other variable facilitate decisions about individuals or to aid in various types of selection

predictor variable variable the variable used to predict criterion variable variable the variable predicted

1. data collection valid measuring instruments should be carefully selected to represent the variables of interest it is especially important that the measure used as the criterion variable be valid

2. data analysis and interpretation single prediction studies use one single predictor multiple prediction studies use more multiple than one predictor in both, a continuous predictor variable is used to predict a continuous criterion variable

 single

prediction studies Y = a + bX

Where Y = predictor criterion X = an individuals score on the predictor variable a = a constant calculated from the scores of all participants b = the coefficient indicating the contribution of the predictor to the criterion

 multiple

## prediction studies use multiple predictors Y = a + bX1 + bX2 + + bXn

Where Y = predictor criterion Xn = an individuals score on the predictor variable a = a constant calculated from the scores of all participants b = the coefficient indicating the contribution of the predictor to the criterion

 discriminant

function analysis similar to multiple regression analysis but a continuous predictor variable is used to predict a categorical variable

 path

analysis studies relationships and patterns among a number of variables, yielding a diagram showing the direct or indirect relationships between the variables

 structural

equation modeling a sophisticated form of path analysis providing greater theoretical validity and statistical precision clarifying the direct or indirect interrelationships among variables relative to a given variable

 canonical

correlation an extension of multiple regression analysis that produces a correlation based on a group of predictor variables and a group of criterion variables

 factor

analysis (FANOVA)

a statistical method for making sense of a large number of variables approach: group a larger number of variables into a smaller number of clusters; derive factors by finding groups of variables that are highly among each other, but lowly with other variables; use factors as variables

MiniMini-Quiz
 True

and false

a high degree of correlation between two variables implies that one causes the other
False

## the existence of a high negative correlation permits prediction

True

the correlation coefficient indicates the percentage of relationship between the variables
False

the correlation coefficient indicates the amount of common variance shared by the variables
True

common, or shared, variance indicates the extent to which variables vary in a systematic way
True

the more systematically two variables vary, the lower the correlation coefficient
False

the amount common, or shared, variance is much less than the numerical value of the correlation coefficient
True

for a given sample size, the value of the correlation coefficient needed for significance increases as the level of confidence increases
True

the level of significance indicates the probability that a given relationship is a true one, regardless of whether it is a strong or weak relationship
True

## a statistically significant correlation coefficient establishes a cause-effect relationship

False

relationship studies that have not uncovered useful relationships have at least identified variables that can be excluded from future studies, which is a necessary step in science
True

the more correlation coefficients computed at one time, the more likely it is that some wrong conclusions about the existence of a relationship will be reached
True

an appropriate population is one for which the data on each of the identified variables can be collected
True

an artificial dichotomy is one where ordinal, interval, or ratio data are artificially turned into nominal data
True

most correlational techniques assume that the relationship being investigated is linear
True

## a correction for unreliability should be used in prediction studies

False

the greater the variability there is in each set of scores being correlated, the higher the correlation coefficient is likely to be
True

in a prediction study, it is especially important that the measure used as the criterion be reliable
False

one reason for shrinkage is that an initial predictor equation may be the result of chance relationship that will not be found again with another group of participants
True

## the mathematical expression of the degree of relationship between variables

correlation coefficient

 Fill

in the blank

a research strategy in which the researcher correlates all sorts of variables to discover relationships
shotgun or fishing approach

indicates that an obtained correlation coefficient is really different from a correlation of zero, or no relation, usually stated at a given level of probability
statistical significance

a type of study in which a researcher identifies variables that are correlated with the dependent variable and removes their influence so that they will not be confused with that of the independent variable
relationship study

a chart on which the variables to be correlated are placed which provides a visual representation of their relationship
scatter plot

a relationship between variables in which an increase in one variable is associated with a corresponding increase in another variable up to a point, at which further increases in the first variable result in corresponding decreases in the other variable (or vice versa)
curvilinear

the fact that correlation coefficients tend to be lowered if the measures being correlated have low reliability
attenuation

predictor

## the variable that is predicted

criterion

the tendency of a prediction equation to become less accurate when used with a group other than the one on which the equation was originally developed
shrinkage

the procedure by which a prediction equation is validated with at least one other group and the variables no longer found to be related to the criterion measure are removed from the equation
cross-validation

## the equation used in a multiple prediction study

multiple regression equation

## This module has focused on...

correlational studies
which involve collecting data in order to determine whether, and to what degree, a relationship exists between two or more quantifiable variables

## The next module will focus on...

causal-comparative studies
...which attempt to determine the cause, or reasons for pre-existing differences in groups of individuals