Let us continue with the doctoral student example, keeping in mind that a parallel situation also presents itself to any researcher planning research that he/she intends to publish.
As an interested reader of educational literature, a doctoral student becomes intrigued by the importance of questioning in the secondary classroom.
Clearly quantitative research paradigms are couched in a realist perspective and qualitative research paradigms are couched in an idealist perspective (Bogdan & Biklen, ).
The discussion here is focused on theoretical frameworks at a much more specific and localized perspective with respect to the justification and conceptualization of a single research investigation. Indeed, the answers to these questions are the substance and culmination of Chapters I and II of the proposal and completed dissertation, or the initial sections preceding the Methods section of a research article.
These research questions still need to be transformed into testable statistical hypotheses, but they are ready to be presented to the dissertation advisor.
The advisor looks at the questions and says: “This looks like a promising study, but what is your theoretical framework?The answers to these questions can come from only one source, a thorough review of the literature (i.e., a review that includes both the theoretical and empirical literature as well as apparent gaps in the literature).Perhaps, a hypothetical situation can best illustrate the development and role of the theoretical framework in the formalization of a dissertation topic or research investigation.The research on the cognitive development of students has provided an intriguing perspective.That is, could it be possible that students of different cognitive levels are affected differently by questions at different cognitive levels?At this point, the student has narrowed his/her interests as a result of reviewing the literature.Note that the doctoral student is now ready to write down a specific research question and that this is only possible after having conducted a thorough review of the literature.This is especially true for theory driven research (typically quantitative) that is attempting to test the validity of existing theory.However, this narrow definition of a theoretical framework is commonly not aligned with qualitative research paradigms that are attempting to develop theory, for example, grounded theory, or research falling into the categories of description and interpretation research (Peshkin, ).” These words instantly send the harried doctoral student to the library (giving away our ages) in search of a theory to support the proposed research and to satisfy his/her advisor.The search is often unsuccessful because of the student’s misconception of what constitutes a “theoretical framework.” The framework may actually be a theory, but not necessarily.