Chapter Conclusion65

While many professionals in education and the social sciences perform research, the majority of us use this information in real life application. Teachers use research regarding teaching methods and learning style to help improve the education of their students. Therapists use research to provide better treatment for specific mental illnesses. Managers use research to help them improve retention rates, worker satisfaction, or communication. The purpose of research, then, is not merely to gather information, but to communicate this information to the research consumers.

Through this text, you should have a solid understanding of the importance of research, the methods of developing a hypothesis, and the specific designs used for particular types of research. You should understand the importance of standardization, randomization, controlling for confounds, and assuring internal and external validity. You should have a basic understanding of descriptive and inferential statistics, and be aware that the foundation for your study and the discussion of results are often more important than the results themselves.

Perhaps most importantly though, you should understand how to critically analyze a research report from start to finish. You should be able to address the strengths and weaknesses of particular designs and the specific methods of a study. You should be able to discuss results and combine studies in order to develop your own theories and to apply this information to your professional life. Research is not an end in itself, nor is it a means to an end. Research is merely a continuing and vital part of our need to understand and grow.