Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Educational Research: Competencies for Analysis and Applications by Lorrie R. Gay

Educational Research: Competencies for Analysis and Applications Book Review

Noted for its accessible tone, clear and concise explanations, and humorous tone to demystify the oft-feared content of the research course, Gay’s text has long been noted as a classic in the field of Educational Research. A practical text focused on the skills needed by competent consumers and producers of educational research, the ninth edition encompasses a clear, down-to-earth approach and retains such mainstay features as research tasks throughout the text that guide students as they create their own research report, published research articles in every methods chapter and a welcomed humorous tone. The new edition builds on its excellence with broadened coverage of qualitative research, expanded coverage of technology throughout, and an exciting new integrated multimedia resource package.

From the Publisher

With its goal of helping students become competent as both consumers and producers of educational research, this popular, market-leading text presents all of the skills and procedures needed in a direct, step-by-step fashion, with a strong emphasis on evaluation of student performance. Now in its 20th year, Educational Research is well-known for its friendly, highly- accessible approach to educational statistics. The author's light, often humorous tone helps to demystify this demanding course. At the same time, the text offers comprehensive instruction that encompasses the full spectrum of the field. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Educational Research: Competencies for Analysis and Applications, ninth edition
Lorrie R. Gay, Geoff Mills, Peter W. Airasian

Educational Research: Competencies for Analysis and Applications, ninth edition, is a practical text focused on the skills needed by competent consumers and producers of educational research. The ninth edition includes:

A clear, down-to-earth approach

  • The accessible writing style, clear and concise explanations and humorous tone demystify the research process. (See, for example, pp. 104, 303, and 310.)
  • Tasks are included throughout the text to guide students through the process of creating their own research report. (See, for example, pp. 4, 175, and 461.)
  • Published research articles are now included in every research methods chapter. (See, for example, pp. 189, 226, and 392.)
Broadened coverage of qualitative research and expanded coverage of technology throughout the text including:
  • A new chapter on case study research (Chapter 17)
  • How to use online survey research tools (in Chapter 7) and how to use Excel to help organize and analyze data (in Chapters 12 and 13)
An integrated multimedia resource
  • MyEducationalResearchLab—an online research-based learning tool—offers students an individualized Study Plan, provides instructors a set of assignable Homework and Exercises for each chapter, and provides interactive practice in evaluating and conducting research through Building Research Skills exercises. A complete list of available resources for each chapter is located in the beginning of each chapter (See, for example, pp. 65, 217, and 383).
  • For more information turn to the preface or go to .

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


This text is designed primarily for use in the introductory course in educational research that is a basic requirement for many graduate programs. Since the topic coverage of the text is relatively comprehensive, it also may be easily adapted for use in either a senior-level undergraduate course or a more advanced graduate-level course.
The philosophy that guided the development of the current and previous editions of this text was the conviction that an introductory research course should be more skill and application oriented than theory oriented. Thus the purpose of this text is to have students become familiar with research mainly at a "how to" skill and application level. The text does not mystify students with theoretical and statistical jargon. It strives to provide a down-to-earth approach that helps students acquire the skills and knowledge required of a competent consumer and producer of educational research. The emphasis is not just on what the student knows but also on what the student can do with what he or she knows. It is recognized that being a "good" researcher involves more than the acquisition of skills and knowledge; in any field, significant research is usually produced by persons who through experience have acquired insights, intuitions, and strategies related to the research process. Research of any worth, however, is rarely conducted in the absence of basic research skills and knowledge. A basic assumption of this text is that there is considerable overlap in the competencies required of a competent consumer of research and a competent producer of research, and that a person is in a much better position to evaluate the work of others after she or he has performed the major tasks involved in the research process.


The overall strategy of the text is to promote students' attainment of a degree of expertise in research through the acquisition of knowledge and by involvement in actual research.


Part One discusses the scientific and disciplined inquiry approach and its application in education. It describes the main steps in the research process and the purpose and methods of the various approaches to research. In Part One, each student selects and delineates a research problem of interest that has relevance to his or her professional area. Throughout the rest of the text, the student then simulates the procedures that would be followed in conducting a study designed to investigate the problem; each chapter develops a specific skill or set of skills required for the execution of such a research study. Specifically, the student reviews and analyzes related literature and formulates hypotheses (Chapter 2), develops a research plan (Chapter 3), selects and defines samples (Chapter 4), and evaluates and selects measuring instruments (Chapter 5). Part Two describes qualitative research, including the different approaches to and the collection and analysis of qualitative data. Part Three describes and discusses quantitative research, data collection and analysis, including statistics. In Part Four the student applies the skills and knowledge acquired in Parts One through Three and evaluates a research report.


This text represents more than just a textbook to be incorporated into a course; it is actually a total instructional system that includes stated objectives, or competencies, instruction, and procedures for evaluating each competency. The instructional strategy of the system emphasizes demonstration of skills and individualization within structure. The format for each chapter is essentially the same. Following a brief introduction, each task to be performed is described. Tasks require students to demonstrate that they can perform particular research functions. Since each student works with a different problem, each student demonstrates the competency required by a task as it applies to his or her own problem. With the exception of Chapter 1, each chapter is directed toward the attainment of one task. Each chapter begins with a list of chapter objectives that entail knowledge and skills that facilitate students' abilities to perform a related task. In many instances objectives may be assessed either as written exercises submitted by students or by tests, whichever the instructor prefers. For some objectives the first option is clearly preferable.
Text discussion is intended to be as simple and straightforward as possible. Whenever feasible, procedures are presented as a series of steps and concepts are explained in terms of illustrative examples. In a number of cases, relatively complex topics or topics beyond the scope of the text are presented at a very elementary level, and students are directed to other sources for additional, in-depth discussion. There is also a degree of intentional repetition; a number of concepts are discussed in different contexts and from different perspectives. Also, at the risk of eliciting more than a few groans, an attempt has been made to sprinkle the text with touches of humor. Each chapter includes a detailed, often lengthy summary with headings and subheadings directly paralleling those in the chapter. The summaries are designed to facilitate both review and location of related text discussion. Finally, each chapter concludes with suggested criteria for evaluating its task and with an example of the task produced by a former introductory educational research student.


Like the sixth edition, the seventh edition reflects a combination of both unsolicited and solicited input. Positive feedback suggested aspects of the text and supplementary materials that should not be changed—the writing style and the focus on ethical practice, for example. Every effort, however, was made to incorporate suggestions from users and nonusers. For example, several users requested an increased focus on qualitative research and an integration of SPSS analysis.
Content changes reflect the inclusion of new topics and the expansion or clarification of existing topics. There are many improvements in this edition, and we describe the more significant highlights here.
  1. We have broadened our coverage of qualitative research throughout the text. Four chapters now focus on qualitative research: two new, completely revised chapters (Chapters 6 and 9) and two (Chapters 7 and 8) expanded from the sixth edition. Although the text still focuses mainly on quantitative research, this edition provides a more balanced view of qualitative and quantitative research methods.

    In Chapter 6 we describe and discuss the general characteristics and skills required to conduct qualitative research. We identify four primary research approaches—ethnography historical research, grounded theory, and action research. The chapter then focuses on identifying research topics and reviewing the literature. An overview of mixed method research is included to reflect its increasing use.

    Chapter 7 focuses on data collection. We begin by discussing how to identify and select study participants. We then discuss collecting data using observations, interviews, and nonparticipant data collection methods.

    Chapter 8 has two topics. First, we discuss analyzing narrative research data both during and after the data collection stage of a study. Second, we focus on writing the final research report. The chapter closes with a discussion of postanalysis considerations for qualitative research.

    Chapter 9 expands the sixth edition's discussion of action research. In it we discuss the benefits and nature of action research and describe in greater depth the processes specific to this type of research.

    Throughout, our discussion of both qualitative and quantitative research is guided by a commitment to ethical research practice and to the competencies required to carry out the basic steps common to educational research.
  2. A discussion of mixed-method research has been added to Chapter 6. We describe three different mixed-method approaches and present criteria for identifying and evaluating them.
  3. Our discussion of qualitative research is enhanced by the presentation of two published research reports, new to this edition. Throughout Chapters 6, 7, and 8 we excerpt and annotate these reports, and discuss how they illustrate specific aspects of qualitative research methods.
  4. SPSS (formerly Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) is a comprehensive, full-featured software application for analyzing quantitative research data. In Chapters 14 and 15, we illustrate our discussion of statistical data analysis by showing our calculations in two formats: a step-by-step hand analysis and a computer analysis using SPSS Student Version 10.0 for Windows.
In addition, we have added new tables and figures throughout the text. Every chapter has been edited and updated. References have been updated.


A number of ancillaries are available to complement the text, including a Student Guide and an Instructor's Manual and Test Bank. For each part and chapter in the text there is a corresponding part in these two ancillaries. Other supplementary materials include Prentice Hall Custom Test computerized testbank software, SPSS Student Version 10.0 statistical software, a free and expanded Companion Website with 10 modules and many opportunities to practice newly learned research skills, and a CD-ROM with interactive computer simulations of educational research concepts and scenarios, including research articles.


The Student Guide has been significantly revised to coordinate with the new edition. It provides students opportunities to check their current understanding and extend their knowledge beyond definitions to application of the concepts presented in the text. For each chapter, the Student Guide contains key terms for s... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.