Introduction To TheoreticalFramework in Research Theories areformulated to explain, predict, and understand phenomena and, in many cases, tochallenge and extend existing knowledge within the limits of critical boundingassumptions. The theoretical framework is the structure that can hold orsupport a theory of a research study.
The theoretical framework introduces anddescribes the theory that explains why the research problem under study exists.The theoreticalframework must demonstrate an understanding of theories and concepts that arerelevant to the topic of your research paper and that relate to the broaderareas of knowledge being considered. Although this assertion would seem to mostto be non-controversial, it is common to find research studies in theliterature without the grounding of theory. Some would claim that theory is notnecessary, because research should be focused on answering narrow questionsthat would more likely appeal to practitioners. Nevertheless, theory-drivenresearch has advantages for the development and growth of the discipline ofchemical education. Theory can guide research, practice, curriculumdevelopment, evaluation, and help develop effective instructional tactics andstrategies.
Furthermore, it is not clear that theory-free research can exist. Aresearcher who doesn’t articulate an underlying theory about how learning takesplace is probably still operating on a theory of learning and makingeducational decisions about how learning takes place. Theory about learningchemistry can be derived from established disciplines like psychology,sociology, and philosophy. A consideration of prominent learning theoriesderived from these sources demonstrates the power of theory-based researchstrategies. What Is Theoretical Framework?The theoretical framework is the “blueprint” forthe entire dissertation inquiry. It serves as the guide on which to build andsupport your study, and also provides the structure to define how you willphilosophically, epistemologically, methodologically, and analytically approachthe dissertation as a whole. Eisenhart defined a theoretical framework as “astructure that guides research by relying on a formal theory..
.constructed byusing an established, coherent explanation of certain phenomena andrelationships” (1991, p. 205). Thus, the theoretical framework consists of the selectedtheory (or theories) that undergirds your thinking with regards to how youunderstand and plan to research your topic, as well as the concepts anddefinitions from that theory that are relevant to your topic. Lovitts (2005)empirically defines criteria for applying or developing theory to thedissertation that must be appropriate, logically interpreted, well understood,and align with the question at hand. We assert that students must select andclarify a theoretical framework from the time the dissertation topic isinitially conceptualized.
Philosophers such as Dooyeweerd (as cited in Sire,2004, p. 35) have even gone so far as to call for “pretheoretical commitments”by the researcher to specifically identify one’s “worldview of the heart ratherthan the mind.” We profess that the researcher’s choice of theory must beclearly stated and explicitly mentioned early in the writing of thedissertation. The importance of theory-driven thinking and acting should be emphasizedin relation to the selection of a topic, development of research questions,focus of the literature review, the design approach, and analysis plan for thedissertation study. Anderson, Day, and McLaughlin (2006) capture the necessityof including a sound theoretical underpinning in a dissertation study with aquote from a dissertation supervisor who stated, “I don’t see how you can do agood piece of work that’s a theoretical”.Similarly, Sarter addressed the”limited usefulness of findings and conclusions” when a study is not justifiedby a theoretical framework.
Evidence across disciplines is clear that theexplicit identification and inclusion of a theoretical framework is a necessityof sound research. Need and Importance of Theoretical FrameworkThe main aim of a theoretical framework is todefine the dependent variable and independent variable and the possiblerelationship between the variables for the purpose of research. According toSekaran & Bougie (2010),theoretical framework represents the beliefs on howcertain phenomena (or variables or components) are related to one another (amodel) and an explanation of why we believe that these variables are associatedwith one another (a theory).
The model and the theory flow logically from theprevious research in the problem area.The variables have already been identified from theliterature review done in the earlier chapters.The theoretical frame work helpsto test the need for NPM type reforms in developing countries. Theories areformulated to explain, predict, and understand phenomena and, in many cases, tochallenge and extend existing knowledge within the limits of critical boundingassumptions. The theoretical frameworkis the structure that can hold or support a theory of a research study.Ø It provides a context forexamining a problem i.e. theoretical rationale Ø Developing hypothesesØ A frame of reference/base for1.
Observation2. Definition of research3. Interpretation4. Research design5. GeneralizationØ Servesas a guide to systematically identify logical, precisely defined relationshipamong variablesØ Anexplicit statement of theoretical assumptions permits the reader toevaluate them criticallyØ Thetheoretical framework connects the researcher to existing knowledge. Guided bya relevant theory, you are given a basis for your hypotheses and choice ofresearch methods Ø Articulatingthe theoretical assumptions of a research study forces you to address questionsof why and how.
It permits you to intellectually transition from simplydescribing a phenomenon you have observed to generalizing about various aspectsof that phenomenonØ Havinga theory helps you identify the limits to those generalizations. A theoreticalframework specifies which key variables influence a phenomenon of interest andhighlights the need to examine how those key variables might differ and underwhat circumstancesØ Thedevelopment of the theoretical framework helps to clarify your implicit theoryin a manner that is more clearly defined. It helps you to consider otherpossible frameworks and to reduce biases that may sway your interpretation. Asyou develop your theoretical framework you will consider alternative theoriesthat might challenge your perspective. You will also consider the limitationsassociated with your theory, and quite possibly, that your problem could bebetter understood by other theoretical frameworksØ Thetheoretical framework is how you conceptualize the nature of your researchproblem, its basis and the analysis you will choose to investigate thatproblem. This framework determines how you perceive, make sense of, andinterpret your data. Explanation of the theoretical framework helps the readerunderstand your perspective and context. Variables A conceptwhich can take on different quantitative values is called a variable.
Accordingto Sekaran & Bougie (2010) a good theoretical framework.Identifies and defines the important variables in the situation that arerelevant to the problem. According to Sekaran (2000) ‘the dependent variable isthe variable of primary interest to the researcher. It is the main variablethat lends itself for investigation’. The use of theoretical framework as aguide in a Research Ø Theoriesare constructed in order to explain, predict and master phenomenon (eg.Relationship, events or the behaviour). In many instances we are constructingmodels of reality.Ø Atheory makes generalisation about observations and consist of an interrelated,coherent set of ideas and models.
Ø Ifthe framework is logically sound and substantiated by previous research studies, there is a strong possibility that the prediction or hypotheses evolving fromthat from that framework will be supported.Ø Insome cases, a theoretical rationale in inappropriate used. eg .
a theory isdesigned to explain a particular behaviour in infant may not be appropriate forthe study of those behaviour in adults. PurposeOf Formulating Theoretical Framework· It helps the researcher see clearly thevariables of the study· It can provide him witha general framework for data analysis· It is essential inpreparing a research proposal using descriptive and experimental methods.· Means for prescribing or evaluating solutions toresearch problems· Response to newproblems that have no previously identified solution strategy.· Means of giving olddata new interpretations and new meaning· Means by which toidentify important new issues and prescribe the most critical researchquestions that need to be answered to maximize understanding of the issues.
· Means of providingmembers of a professional discipline with a common language and a frame ofreference for defining the boundaries of their profession. · Means to guide andinform research so that it can, in turn, guide research efforts and improveprofessional practice. · Ways of discerningcertain facts among the accumulated knowledge that are important. Formulating The TheoreticalRationale · Through the literaturereview, an investigator become aware of or confirms identified theoreticalconnections between variables· In evaluating theformulation of the theoretical rationale , the internal structures ,such asconcepts and their definitions, should have clarity and continuity , and theapproach to understanding phenomenon , whether inductive or deductive, shouldbe logical.