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Research design


Research design operationalization of variables Chapter 6 in Babbie & Mouton (2001) The construction of actual, concrete measurement techniques; the creation of ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Research design

Research design operationalization of variables
  • Chapter 6 in Babbie Mouton (2001)
  • The construction of actual, concrete measurement
    techniques the creation of operations that
    will result in the desired measurements.
  • The development or choice of specific research
    procedures (operations) that will result in
    representing the concepts of interest.

  • An operational definition is a procedure for
    classifying, ordering, or quantifying something
  • Classifying - crowded or not crowded
  • Ordering - uncrowded, mildly crowded, severely
  • Quantifying - measure crowdedness in terms of the
    number of residents per square kilometre
  • Focus on questionnaires other
    operationalization techniques in section on types
    of research design

Choices to be made about operationalization
  • The range of variation how large should your
    categories be?
  • Depends on the purpose of your study pragmatic
    considerations (e.g. income)
  • Variation between the extremes how fine are the
    disctinctions you want to make in your study?
  • e.g. age
  • Again, depends on the purpose of your study
  • (Why research is such a challenging task very
    few recipes)
  • Single or multiple indicators of variables
  • Some straightforward, such as gender
  • But others benefit from multiple indicators

Levels of measurement
  • Of great concern in psychometrics
  • We look for three elements
  • A zero point
  • Distances between categories equal
  • Categories can be rank-ordered

Nominal measures
  • Reflects only categories
  • The variable gender has two attributes, male and
  • They are distinct from one another, but they have
    no additional structures
  • Also political party affiliation, birthplace, etc.

  • The next question is on the subject of work.
    People look for different things in a job. Which
    of the following five things would you most
    prefer in a job?
  • 1. work that pays well
  • 2. work that gives a feeling of accomplishment
  • 3. work where there is not too much supervision
    and you make most decisions yourself
  • 4. work that is pleasant and where the other
    people are nice to work with
  • 5. work that is steady with little chance of
    being laid off

Ordinal measures
  • Include the above
  • Plus we can logically rank-order the attributes
  • e.g. social class, prejudice
  • We can rank order people according to the amount
    of education they had

  • 1. very satisfied
  • 2. fairly satisfied
  • 3. neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
  • 4. fairly dissatisfied
  • 5. very dissatisfied

Interval measures
  • Include the above
  • Plus the intervals between the attributes have
  • e.g scores on an intelligence test
  • BUT
  • We cannot say that a person with an IQ of 120 is
    TWICE as intelligent as one with an IQ of 60
  • And the 5 points difference between 110 and 115,
    and 95 and 100?

Ratio measures
  • Include all of the above
  • Plus they have a true zero point
  • e.g.
  • how long you have lived in Cape Town?
  • age
  • the number of times you were married
  • income

  • Mainly for the analysis of data (the statistics
    part of the course)

Indexes and scales
  • Social scientific concepts have complex and
    varied meanings
  • Often difficult to capture all the dimensions of
    a concept
  • As a result, we normally make multiple
    observations, and use more than one indicator of
    a variable
  • Indexes and scales are techniques to combine
    indicators of a variable into a single measure of
    that variable
  • They are composite measures of variables
    measurements based on more than one data item
  • Typically they are ordinal measures of variables
  • Typical in quantitative research
  • Indexes and scales differ through the manner in
    which scores are assigned to individual attributes

  • Constructed through the simple accumulation of
    scores assigned to individual attributes
  • e.g. we add the number of items a person agreed
    with to obtain a total score
  • e.g. How politically active are you? We give you
    six statements of political activities you could
    have been involved in, and if you indicate that
    you have been involved in three of them, you will
    obtain a score of 3 on our index of political

  • A scale recognizes that not all responses reflect
    the same degree of the presence of a variable
  • e.g. women are different from men is a much
    weaker statement of the variable sexism than
    women should not be allowed to vote
  • Also, it assigns scores to patterns of responses

Scaling procedures
  • Bogardus social distance scale
  • Thurstone scales
  • Likert scaling
  • Semantic differential
  • Guttman scaling
  • The format of the Likert-type scaling is commonly
    used in questionnaire design today

  • 1 I enjoy shopping
  • SAgr Agr Neither Dis Sdis
  • 2 I look forward to going shopping
  • SAgr Agr Neither Dis Sdis
  • 3 I shop whenever I have the opportunity
  • SAgr Agr Neither Dis Sdis
  • 4 I avoid shopping if I can
  • SAgr Agr Neither Dis Sdis
  • 5 When I visit a town or city I don't know well,
    I always want to see the shops
  • SAgr Agr Neither Dis Sdis
  • 6 Shopping is a chore that I have to put up with.
  • SAgr Agr Neither Dis Sdis

  • Scoring - note 4 and 6
  • Level of measurement - ordinal or interval/ratio