## The Nature of Home Economics Research from the Empirical Perspective

By Alyce Fanslow

__Glossary Terms__**Reliability**- is the ability of a person or system to perform and maintain its functions in routine circumstances, as well as hostile or unexpected circumstances. Yielding the same or compatible results in different clinical experiments or statistical trials.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability & http://www.thefreedictionary.com/reliability

**Validity**– refers to how well a method measures the thing that it is supposed to measure. (Faslow, 1989, pg. 15)

**Qualitative Variable**- Characteristics which vary in quality or value. Categorical variables divides subjects into groups. The color of a ball (e.g., red, green, blue) or the breed of a dog (e.g., collie, shepherd, terrier) would be examples of categorical variables.

http://stattrek.com/statistics/dictionary.aspx?definition=qualitative_variable

**Quantitative variables**- Characteristics which vary in quantity, amount, or size. Quantitative variables are numerical and have an infinite number of values. They represent a measurable quantity. For example, when we speak of the population of a city, we are talking about the number of people in the city - a measurable attribute of the city. http://stattrek.com/statistics/dictionary.aspx?definition=qualitative_variable

**Independent variable**– is the variable that is changed in a scientific experiment to test the effects on the dependent variable. “factor that actively manipulates or could be manipulated if desired” (pg. 12) Characteristics which affect or cause the outcome of the experiment but do not measure the results.

http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryterminology/a/What-Is-The-Difference-Between-Independent-And-Dependent-Variables.htm

**Dependent Variable**- A dependent variable is the variable being tested in a scientific experiment. The dependent variable is 'dependent' on the independent variable. Characteristics which measure the effects or results of the experimental treatment or independent variable.

http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryterminology/a/What-Is-The-Difference-Between-Independent-And-Dependent-Variables.htm

**Conceptual definition**– “describes the variable in hypothetical terms” (Faslow, 1989, pg. 12)

**Operational definition**– “specifies the procedure as to how the variable will be measured” (Faslow, 1989, pg. 12)

**Assumptions**- “facts or statements that are believed to be true” (Faslow, 1989, pg. 13)

**Limitations**– “boundaries set by the study” (Faslow, 1989, pg. 13)

**Population**– the defined members of a sampling group

**Invited sample**– all people asked to be a part of the sample group

**Accepting sample**– the people who actually responded to the request

**Data-producing sample**– the “useable” data collection from the accepting sample

**Probability sampling**– sampling based on chance

**Non-probability sampling**– non- random selection sampling

**Sampling error**– random error because all samples are not identical

**Sampling bias**– systematic error in a sample, likely due to non-probability sampling

**Descriptive statistics**– central tendency measures like mean, median, mode with standard deviation

**Multiple regression**– “attempts to determine which variables predict an outcome” (Faslow, 1989, pg. 17)

**Inferential statistics**– A procedure used to estimate parameters (characteristics of populations) from statistics (characteristics of samples).

http://www.okstate.edu/ag/agedcm4h/academic/aged5980a/5980/newpage25.htm

**Statistical significance**- A mathematical technique to measure whether the results of a study are likely to be true. When a statistical test reveals that the probability is rare that a set of observed sample data is attributable to chance alone, this result is labeled as statistically significant.

http://www.okstate.edu/ag/agedcm4h/academic/aged5980a/5980/newpage25.htm

**Practical significance**- refers to the relevance of the study to the question at hand.

**Experimental Research**- concerns relationships between variables. Experimental research provides strong evidence for causal interpretations.

http://psych.csufresno.edu/psy144/Content/Design/Types/experimental.html

*Methodology of Empirical Inquiry*- Selection and definition of a problem
- Choosing the sample
- Developing data collection device
- Data collection
- Data Analysis
- Interpretation of data

__Quotes__*“Any limitations placed on the study limit the degree to which the findings can be generalized. Generally, researchers select a sample of a given age in a particular city, state, or region. Hence, when conclusions are drawn relative to the study, findings can only be summarized for the age group and area studied.”*(Faslow, 1989, pg. 13)

Understanding the implemented limitations set on a study is important to acknowledge when reading a study.

*“so what?”*(Faslow, 1989, pg. 17)

I find this to be a difficult question to formulate. I know that I pieces of work but am never sure, when it is the appropriate time or situation to ask it.

__Comments__This article was a much more analytical look at the empirical form of research that has the author breaking down the varying aspects and details of how this method is done and all the changes or challenges that can occur. Definitely gives a more in-depth look at this form.

__References__Fanslow, A. M. (1989). The nature of home economics research from the empirical perspective. In F. H.Hultgren & D. L. Coomer (Eds.),

*Alternate modes of inquiry in home economics research*, pp. 9 - 23. Yearbook 9, American Home Economics Association. Peoria, IL: Glencoe.