All of these questions are cornerstones to developing a more comprehensive, researchable research topic. Keep in mind that researchers do not always pursue a topic of interest because they had a positive experience with it in the past. In fact, many researchers pursue topics based on a past negative experience for the sole purpose of improving practices and making them better for the next generation of learners. For example, one of our students explored student experiences in gifted education programs in her proposal because she experienced significant problems within her own high school gifted education program.
Research studies can also be developed based on theory, as discussed in Chapter One. For some researchers, a single theory might provide the focus for most of their research. For example, Robbie Case (1992) conducted many studies of Piagetian theory. These studies eventually led him to construct his own theory that blends Piaget’s original stages with concepts from information-processing theory. Students might use theories presented in any of their classes as the basis for a research study. For example, several of our students have examined implications of a well-known theory of parenting styles.
The third approach to doing a study is through what is referred to as replication. Although this approach may sound complicated, in essence, it is a “do over but do better” approach. Typically, a researcher conducts a replication by first selecting a research study that she or he recognizes (or learns through others’ reviews of studies) as flawed; that is, it either uses poor methods to collect the data or sample participants or is poorly designed in other ways that will be discussed later in this book.