Is It Answerable?

Another major problem with the first few versions of a research questions is that they often “go too big.” Is the question something that you can actually answer in a reasonable amount of time? Or is your question so large that to answer it in any substantial way it would take multiple unversities over several years to gather enough data? Is the question so vague that different people who read the question and the data could come up with different conclusions?

It’s natural to want to answer a “big question” to make a major impact. That’s great! But it’s better (particularly when you are starting out) to simply answer a question definitively, rather than get lost in the troubles of managing an enormous project. It’s OK to tackle a smaller question!

Here’s an example:

Do flipped classrooms make courses better?

So, there’s a lot of clarification that needs to be added here. Flipped how? What type of student? What type of course? What exactly do you mean by “better?” Is this referring to student learning outcomes? Student engagement?

How about instead:

Does using a flipped classroom pedagogy with novice programmers in an introductory course lead to higher grades on assessments compared to a standard classroom scenario?

Focus in on what the main variable is that you are adjusting and build out around what it could have an effect on to refine your question!

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