Meaning of Educational Research: Educational research refers to a systematic attempt to gain a better understanding of the educational process, generally with a view in improving its efficiency. It is an application of scientific method to the study of educational problems.

Definitions:
1. Good. โ€œEducational research is the study and investigation in the field of education.โ€

2. Munroe. โ€œThe final purpose of educational research is to ascertain principles and develop procedures for use in the field of education.โ€

3. Mulay. โ€œAny systematic study designed to promote the development of education as a science can be considered educational research.โ€

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Characteristics of Educational Research:

1. Educational research is directed towards the solution of a problem in the field of education. It may attempt to answer a question or to determine the relation between two or more variables.

2. It emphasizes the development of generalizations, principles or theories that will be helpful in predicting future occurrences.

3. Educational research, usually goes beyond the specific objects, groups or situations investigated and infers characteristics of a target population from the sample observed.

4. Educational research involves getting new data from primary or first hand sources or using existing data for a new purpose.

5. Educational research accepts only what can be verified by observation. Certain interesting questions do not tend themselves to research procedures.

6. Although research activity may at times be somewhat random and unsystematic, it is more often characterized by carefully designed procedures, always applying rigorous analysis. Although trial and error are often involved, research is rarely a blind, shotgun investigation
trying something to see what happens.

7. Research strives to be objective and logical, applying every possible test to validate the procedures employed, the data collected and the conclusions reached. The researcher attempts
to eliminate personal bias.

8. Research requires expertise. The researcher knows what is already known about the problem and how others have investigated.

9. Educational research involves the quest for answers to unsolved problems. Pushing back the
frontiers of ignorance is its goal and originality is frequently the quality of a good research project.

10. Educational research is based on insight and imagination. It needs the service of man who looks beyond the present.

11. Educational research requires interdisciplinary approach. It is related to the study of complex
relations about facts.

12. Educational research is not so exact a research as physical science. In the latter we can control the events but in educational research it is not possible.

13. Educational research has a great field. Educational psychology, educational philosophy,
methodology, class organization and management, child development and other subjects are the fields of research in education.

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Needs and Importance of Educational Research:

1. Education has strong roots in the field like philosophy, history, economics, psychology and
sociology. It is through an intensive process of scientific inquiry about the philosophical, historical, economics, psychological and sociological impact on various aspects of education
that sound theories can be established.

2. Education is considered as much a science as an art. As a science, it has a corpus of knowledge. Since education depends on a corpus of knowledge, there is need to add scientific knowledge to it for enrichment and improvement. As an art, education seeks to impart knowledge effectively. For example, โ€˜How can the teacher play an effective role in the classroom and outside?โ€™ is a vital question before educationists. It needs careful research efforts to enhance teacherโ€™s effectiveness.

3. The slogan of democratization of education resulted in the expansion of education. It has given rise to numerous problems like the problem of individual differences, expansion,
buildings, discipline and so on. Solutions of such problems by trial and error or by experience
from tradition and authority often yielded erroneous result. We need solutions based on research so that the coming generation is not left to the mercy of errors of outright sins of
tradition, ignorance and prejudice.

4. There is a need for educational research because of the changing concept of education.

The International Commission on the Development of Education, in its report โ€œLearning To Beโ€ (UNESCO 1972, p. 143) emphasizes: โ€˜Education from now-on can no longer be defined in relation to a fixed content which has
to be assimilated, but must be conceived of as a process in the human beings, who thereby
learns to express himself, to communicate and to question the world, through his various
experiences and increasingly โ€“ all the time โ€“ to fulfill himself. It has strong roots, not only in economics and sociology but also in the findings from psychological research which
indicate that man is an unfinished being and can only fulfill himself through constant learning. If this is so, then education takes place at all ages of life, in all situations and
circumstances of existence. It returns to its true nature, which is to ne total and life long and transcends the limits of institutions, programmes and methods imposed on it down the
centuries.โ€™

In the context of above nature of education, the limits of educational research have to be extended from the formal and conventional modes of education to the non-formal and
innovative systems based on ecological and cybernetic models.

5. During the last two decades, great changes have taken place as a result of the rapid scientific and technological developments. Education has to play an important role so that we can accept the change in a smooth way. It can do so by bringing improvements in the existing curriculum, textbooks, methods of teaching and evaluation.

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STEPS IN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH:

Since the educational research is the application of scientific method to the study of educational problems. The steps in educational research, therefore, are more or less identical to those of scientific method. Following are the steps generally found in educational research.

1. The research problem. Educational research starts with the selection of a problem. Following are the fields in which one may look for problems for research:

a. The classroom, school, home, community and other agencies are the obvious sources.

b. Social developments and technological changes are constantly bringing forth new opportunities for research.

c. Records of previous research should also be consulted. This includes encyclopaedia of
educational research, dissertations and similar publications.

d. Classroom discussions, seminars and exchange of ideas with the faculty members and fellow scholars and students will suggest many stimulating problems to be solved.

e. Consultation with an expert, researcher supervisor, researcher guide or a senior scholar will
also be helpful.

2. Formulation of hypothesis. Educational research should make the use of carefully formulated hypothesis. This may be formally stated or implied Hypothesis. Hypothesis is the pre-assumptive statement of a proposition or a reasonable guess based upon the available evidences, which the researcher seeks to prove through his study.

3. Methods to be used. The selection of research method to be used is of utmost importance in the research process. It refers to the general strategy followed in collecting and analyzing the data necessary for solving the problem. The research methods are generally classified in 3
categories: (1) Historical, (2) Descriptive, and (3) experimental. The methods used in the study
are decided by the nature of the problem and the type of data required for answering the questions relating to the problem.

4. Data collection. Whereas the research method describes the overall approach to the problem,
this step is concerned with the procedures and techniques to be adopted for data collection. It
refers to the nature of the sample to be chosen for study, and selection and development of data gathering devices such as tests, questionnaires, rating scales, interviews, observations, checklists and the like.

5. Analysis and interpretation of data. Good research is characterized by the care taken in the analysis and interpretation of data. It includes the selection of appropriate quantitative and quantitative techniques to be used for processing the data collected for the study.

6. Reporting the results. This is the last and important step of the research process. It is characterized by carefully formulated inferences, conclusions or generalizations. The
researcher must be able report his procedures, findings and conclusions with utmost objectivity to others who may be interested in his study and its results.