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    How to write a methods section for research

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    What is the Methods section of psychological study comprised of? What would each subject describe? The examples provided display subjects such as education, criminal justice, inmates, prisoners, teaching, moral development, research methods, research studies, adult education, philosophy, and a method of research towards the reintegration of prisoners into society. The sections included in the methods section are detailed and offer a perfect example of how to structure your own methods section for your research paper.
    This research asks whether or not a teacher's teaching philosophy and style can affect inmates in the education program by raising the level of moral development.

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    Methods Outline
    This research asks whether or not a teacher's teaching philosophy and style can affect inmates in the education program at Windham school district by raising the level of moral development.
    This experiment hypothesizes that teaching philosophy and style can affect the moral development of inmate students. The null hypothesis of this study assumes that a teacher's philosophy and style has no effect on the student inmates' level of moral development.
    Common terms used in this research include teaching philosophy, teaching style, moral development, and intelligence. This section will clarify these terms. Teaching philosophy is based on the teacher's ethical, spiritual, and political beliefs. These areas provide clues to possible elements of their educational philosophy, which is made up of five categories (See Table 1). Teaching style refers to the distinct qualities displayed by a teacher that are persistent from situation to situation regardless of the content (Conti, 1986). There are two kinds of teaching style, the teacher-centered approach, and the learner-centered approach.
    A teacher-centered approach is currently the dominant approach throughout all levels of education in North America and is closely related to the ideas of B. F. Skinner (Conti, 1986). This approach to learning assumes that learners are passive and that they become active by reacting to stimuli in the environment (1986). Motivation arises either from basic organic drives and emotions or from a tendency to respond in accordance with prior conditioning (1986). Thus, humans are controlled by their environment, and the schools, which are social institutions, have the responsibility of determining and reinforcing the fundamental values necessary for the survival of the individual and the society (1986). In this teacher-centered approach, the teacher's role is to design an environment, which stimulates the desired behavior and discourages those that have been determined to be undesirable (1986).
    The learner-centered approach is closely associated with the writings of Abraham Maslow. A learner-centered approach assumes that people are naturally good and that the potential for individual growth is unlimited (Conti, 1986). Reality is relative to the interpretations that individuals give to their surroundings as they interact with them (1986). Consequently, behavior is the result of personal perceptions (1986). According to Maslow's interpretation of human behavior, individuals are driven by needs. These needs are categorized into three groups as the need for safety, respect, and esteem. People construct individual value systems that relate to these needs (Hoffman, 1988). As needs are met an individual can explore higher levels of gratification; values change or are clarified (1988). Values are then passed from adults to children, but if no adults are present, children learn from other children (1988). Maslow's theory of knowledge states that knowledge should include acquiring skills related to dealing with the realities of life, while emphasizing the importance to learn how to learn, rather than absorbing facts; knowledge is continuous, flowing, changing, and needs to account for individual needs and development (Tuckman, 1992; Merriam & Caffarefla, 1991). In regards to learning, Maslow's theory states that learning can only take place when basic needs have been met (Hoffman 1988), when these needs are met then the learner perceives education in more accurate terms and learning becomes the priority (Tuckman, 1992). In addition, how students emotionally view the world sets the foundation for learning (Merriam & Caffarefla, 1991).

    Table 1. Five Philosophies of Adult Education (Developed by L. M. Zinn and Elias and Merriam, 1980).

    Moral development refers to Kohlberg's six stages of moral development as described in Table 2.
    Table 2

    Intelligence and IQ in this research paper refers to intelligence that involves the capacity to learn from experience and to adapt to the surrounding environment—functioning that "goes beyond getting high scores on tests or good grades in school. It includes... how you manage your life in general" (Sternberg 1995b, p.382; Wechsler, 1974.) Not discounting the importance of conventional academic IQ and its powers to predict outcomes in some social domains (Schmidt & Hunter, 1981), psychologist promoting practical intelligence place more emphasis on a person's ability to learn and profit from experience, to monitor effectively one's own and others' feelings and needs, and to solve everyday problems (Gardner, 1983; Sternberg, 1985a).
    Research Design
    In order to test the hypothesis, the study will conduct an experiment in two phases; the first phase will identify the teaching philosophy of teachers using the Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory (PAEI) and will indentify the teaching style of teachers using the Principles of Adult Learning Scale (PALS). The results of the PAEI and PALS will be the independent variables. At the same time, participating student inmates will also take a pretest according to The Heinz Dilemma, developed by Kohlberg to identify their level of moral development before the experiment. The second phase of the experiment will take place a year after the first phase in order to determine if there was a change in the moral development of the participating student inmates by retesting their level of moral development; this is the dependent variable.
    The participants will be recruited from the Windham school district and will consist of 100 willing student inmates and 20 willing teachers. All inmates are male, and age range from 18 and up. Further demographic information is unknown for inmates and teachers as this study has not yet gained IRB approval. All participants will be treated in accordance with the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association (American Psychological Association, 2002).
    The 15-item Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory (Zinn, 1994) was developed to assist the adult educator to identify his/her personal philosophy of education and to compare it with prevailing philosophies in the field of adult education (see Appendix A). Examples of the items comprising this scale are: "In planning an educational activity, I am most likely to..." and " People learn best..." Each item is scored on a seven point scale from 1 (Strongly Agree) to 7 (Strongly Disagree). This yields ten separate subtotals, where none should be higher than 56 or lower than 7. Final scores could be no higher than 105 and no lower than 15. The validity and reliability test data are summarized in Dissertation Abstracts International, 44, 1667A-1668A (Zinn 1983).
    The 44-item Principles of Adult Learning Scale measures the frequency with which one practices teaching/learning principles that are described in the adult education literature. Examples of the items comprising this scale are "I allow students to participate in developing the criteria for evaluating their performance in class..." and "I encourage student to adopt middle class values..." Each item is scored on a five point scale from 0 (Always) to 5 (Never). High scores on PALS indicate support for a learner-centered approach to teaching. Low scores reveal support for a teacher-centered approach. Scores in the middle range disclose an eclectic approach that draws on behaviors from each extreme. The validity and reliability test data are summarized in Adult Learning Methods: A Guide for Effective Instruction (Galbraith, 2004).
    The basic premises of the Defining Issues Test (DIT) are to present enough information regarding a moral dilemma to activate subjects' existing moral schemas, which in turn should guide subjects to respond consistently on the test, and thereby reveal their level of moral reasoning. The DIT includes six moral dilemmas, including the Heinz Dilemma. The basic structure of the DIT is to present each moral dilemma and then ask subjects to indicate which of the two actions or resolutions to the dilemma they endorse. Next, the DIT presents twelve stage-prototypic statements for each dilemma and asks subjects to rank each statement—in terms of importance to their decision—on a five-item Likert scale. Finally, subjects rank the statement that is most important in their thinking, ...

    Solution Summary

    The document attached describes a methods section for a research study. It includes descriptions of each section and examples using an experiment designed to measure the impact of education on moral development for prisoners.