Computer Science

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Computer Science


Before you begin writing your research question, it is first important to craft a purpose statement. What can be a purpose of your study?

Examples of a purpose for a quantitative study include:

  • Examining a relationship between students who take computing classes in high school and those who pursue computer science as a major in college,
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of an outreach activity among underrepresented students, or
  • Measuring engagement or interest in computing among middle school students.

Examples for a qualitative study include:

  • Exploring parent stories about helping their students with computing homework or
  • Developing a theory of effective management techniques in a computer lab.

Once you define the purpose of your study, you can then create a clear purpose statement. Purpose statements help you define your research in a straightforward manner. Here is an example of a well-defined purpose statement.

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between the completion of an 9-week computational thinking unit among 7th and 8th grade students in a rural middle school and student achievement on mathematics exams.

This purpose statement explicitly answers these questions:

  • What is the intent of the study?
  • What population group is targeted in the study (i.e., age, location, etc.)?
  • What was the intervention (activity or curriculum), including its duration?

After you have decided on the purpose of your study and have written your purpose statement, you can then craft your research question.

Writing a Well-crafted Research Question

Research questions provide an overarching direction for your study to follow. It guides the type of study you will choose, the type of data you will collect, and the type of analysis on the data that you will perform.

Writing good research questions, then, is an important step in framing your study. What makes a good research question? Research questions should be clear, concise, specific, neutral, and focused. They should also be complex enough that the question requires more than just a “yes” or “no” answer. An example of a thorough research question for a quantitative study follows:

Does guardian understanding of computational thinking affect student performance on computational thinking tasks among primary school students in an urban school district?

For a qualitative study, a thorough research question may look like this:

What are the major challenges teachers face when teaching computational thinking to Kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade students in the United States?

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