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· What motivates you to do the research on the chosen topic/problem?

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GE 3000 – Introduction Section (Research Problem Statement)

Introduction: Formulating a Research Problem is the first and most important step of the research process. While the main portion of your work for this semester is focused on the Literature Review, the introduction to the research paper – The Research Problem Statement – is an important step in setting up the research problem to be investigated.

The Research Problem Statement comes before the Literature Review and acts as an introduction in a full-length research paper. The Research Problem Statement should be about 250-350 words in length, or about a page to a page-and-a-half when double-spaced. You must cite a minimum of two references (two scholarly sources) in proper MLA or APA format.

The main questions a Research Problem answers are:

· What will be researched? Identify a specific problem, program, or phenomenon

· Who will be researched? Who is the study population (people)?

Questions you should ask yourself when composing the Research Problem:

(Note that these questions are not necessarily going to be explicitly answered question-by-question in the Research Problem Statement. Rather, these are things that you should be thinking about and able to answer for yourself before you begin constructing the document).

· Who is the study population? How can you further refine the study population?

· What exactly do you want to understand about the topic/problem?

· Is the Research Problem too broad?

· How relevant is the research to your study area/discipline/major/interests?

· What motivates you to do the research on the chosen topic/problem?

· Why should others be interested in your chosen topic/problem?

· What are the concepts and issues to be studied?

· What concepts and measurements have to be further defined before the study begins?

· Do you have enough time to complete the research?

· Is an answer to the Research Problem obvious?

Constructing a Research Problem

A Research Problem typically consists of three parts: 1) the ideal, 2) the reality, and 3) the consequences.

1. Part A- the ideal: Describes a desired goal or ideal situation; explains how things should be.

2. Part B – the reality: Describes a condition that prevents the goal, state, or value in Part A from being achieved or realized at this time; explains how the current situation falls short of the goal or ideal.

3. Part C – the consequences: Identifies the way you propose to improve the current situation and move it closer to the goal or ideal.

Steps to Writing a Research Problem: Step 1 (statement 1): Construct statement 1 by describing a goal or desired state of a given situation, phenomenon etc. This will build the ideal situation (what should be, what is expected, desired). How should things be in your topic? What is the ideal scenario? Step 2 (statement 2): Describe a condition that prevents the goal, state, or value discussed in step 1 from being achieved or realized at the present time. This will build the reality, the situation as it is and establish a gap between what ought to be and what actually is. What is the reality of the situation in your topic? Where is there a gap that prevents the ideal from happening? Step 3: Connect steps 1 and 2 using a term such as “but,” “however,” “Unfortunately,” or “in spite of.” Transitional phrase between Statement 1 and Statement 2 allows the reader to understand quickly that there is a gap between the ideal and the reality of your topic. A gap you will aim to fill. Step 4 (statement 3): Using specific details show how the situation in step 2 contains little promise of improvement unless something is done. Emphasize the benefits of research by projecting the consequences of possible solutions as well. What is your research going to do to help fill that gap between the ideal and the reality? How will your research move the reality closer to the ideal?

Example (Statement 1): According to the XY university mission statement, the university seeks to provide students with a safe, healthy learning environment. Dormitories are one important aspect of that learning environment, since 55% of XY students live in campus dorms and most of these students spend a significant amount of time working in their dorm rooms. (Statement 2 [Note the transitional phrase to start]): However, students living in dorms A B C, and D currently do not have air conditioning units, and during the hot seasons, it is common for room temperatures to exceed 80 degrees F. Many students report that they are unable to do homework in their dorm rooms. Others report problems sleeping because of the humidity and temperature. The rooms are not only unhealthy, but they inhibit student productivity and academic achievement. (Statement 3): In response to this problem, the proposed research study investigate several options for making the dorms more hospitable. We plan to carry out an all-inclusive participatory investigation into options for purchasing air conditioners (university-funded; student-subsidized) and different types of air conditioning systems. We will also consider less expensive ways to mitigate some or all of the problems noted above (such as creating climate-controlled dorm lounges and equipping them with better study areas and computing space).

Additional Information:

· Formatting – Your research problem statement should be formatted in the expected format for your major/topic. If you are unsure if you should be using MLA or APA format, do a little research on the expected formatting requirements of academic papers in your field.

· Resources – A minimum of two scholarly, peer-reviewed resources should be used to situate your research problem as one worthy of research – generally speaking, this is best achieved in Statements 1 and/or 2 (see above) to help establish how the reality of your topic falls short of the ideal.

· Quotations – In general, direct quotations should be avoided in a research problem statement. Instead, paraphrase (while still giving credit – remember, citation is about crediting IDEAS, not necessarily words). Example (in APA format):

· Incorrect: The author says “tuition should be free for all students” (Kennedy, 2016).

· Correct: The author argues that students should not have to pay for tuition (Kennedy, 2016).

· References/Works Cited – Include a References (APA) or Works Cited (MLA) page any time you use outside resources in your work.

Sample Research Problem Statement

Title: College Readiness and the Effect of Pre-College Transition Programs

High schools are charged with preparing student for post-secondary endeavors, yet the majority of high school graduates in the 21st century in the United States are not academically prepared for the rigor of postsecondary education or to enter the workforce (American College Test [ACT], 2012; Barnes and Slate, 2010; Conley, 2007a, 2007b). Inconsistent linkages between high schools and higher education institutions, inadequate academic preparation, lack of rigorous course work, and an absence of proper guidance and support are often cited as reasons for this lack of preparedness. With the attention turned on the preparation in high schools as the cause of and solution to the lack of college readiness, high school counselors and pre-college transition programs (also referred to as dual enrollment programs) emerged as systems that will promote a seamless transition between high school and college. The role of guidance counselors and pre-college transition programs represent important assets of capital in the sense that access to them could promote upward social mobility. Marginalized students (students of color, poor/working class students and first generation college students) are still not afforded the recourses that their white and more affluent counterparts are. Capital is an important lens to explore college readiness and access to pre-college transition program.

The proposed study will be qualitative case study that will contribute to the discussion of access to and preparation for higher education through the use of pre-college transition program. Data will be collected at three different high schools through interviews and observation. The data will be coded and analyzed by the researcher in an attempt to help determine how effective college students feel their high schools were at preparing them for college. The expectation is that the more support a student had in high school (school-sponsored pre-college programs, guidance counseling, etc.), the more the students will feel they were adequately prepared for the rigor of college.

Adapted from an assignment sheet by Nakia Gray-Nicolas
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