Course: Educational Research (837)
Q.1 Define sense perception, tradition and authority as sources of knowledge
Sense perception is the use of our senses to acquire information about the world around us and to become acquainted with objects, events, and their features. Traditionally, there are taken to be five senses: sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste.
Philosophical debate about perception is ancient. Much debate focuses on the contrast between appearance and reality. We can misperceive objects and be misled about their nature, as well as perceive them to be the way that they are: you could misperceive the shape of the page before you, for example. Also, on occasion, it may seem to us as if we are perceiving, when we do not perceive at all, but only suffer hallucinations.
Illusions and hallucinations present problems for a theory of knowledge: if our senses can mislead us, how are we to know that things are as they appear, unless we already know that our senses are presenting things as they are? But the concern in the study of perception is primarily to explain how we can both perceive and misperceive how things are in the world around us. Some philosophers have answered this by supposing that our perception of material objects is mediated by an awareness of mind-dependent entities or qualities: typically called sense-data, ideas or impressions. These intermediaries allegedly act as surrogates or representatives for external objects: when they represent aright, we perceive; when they mislead, we misperceive.
An alternative is to suppose that perceiving is analogous to belief or judgment: just as judgment or belief can be true or false, so states of being appeared to may be correct or incorrect. This approach seeks to avoid intermediary objects between the perceiver and the external objects of perception, while still taking proper account of the possibility of illusion and hallucination. Both responses contrast with that of philosophers who deny that illusions and hallucinations have anything to tell us about the nature of perceiving proper, and hold to a form of naïve, or direct, realism.
The account of perception one favours has a bearing on one’s views of other aspects of the mind and world: the nature and existence of secondary qualities, such as colours and tastes; the possibility of giving an account of the mind as part of a purely physical, natural world; how one should answer scepticism concerning our knowledge of the external world.
Perception and Knowledge.
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Sources of Knowledge
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy defined as “the study of human knowledge.” Like epistemology TOK involves questioning our sources and the nature and accuracy of our knowledge in the hope that we will develop a more informed understanding of what we know and don’t know. That is, enabling us to become more epistemically aware.
It is important because accurate knowledge of our two worlds – the real world and the inner world – correctly informs us of the conditions we must cope with. To know facts is to survive; not to know, or to assess one’s environment wrongly, is to lose the fight for survival
We face two serious epistemological problems.
- How can we determine which facts are true? As human beings living in the 21st Century we are surrounded by a wealth of information but not all of it is trustworthy, so we must find a way to double check fact-claims. We must learn somehow to screen out the fictions but let in the facts. On what criteria can we decide what are facts and what are false claims?
- How can we determine which facts are important? However, it is not enough to simply determine which facts are true, we must also consider which facts are useful. A correct catalogue of the size and shape of every blade of grass on my lawn may well be factually true but it will not be as useful as knowing that my lawn is on fire and about to engulf my house. Given the overwhelming number of facts available to us, what criteria can we use for deciding what is more important, what less?
Almost everything that we know originates from four basic sources:
- Senses (possibly the most important)
- Authority (knowledge from other sources, hopefully experts)
Information from the senses is called empirical knowledge and empiricists believe that the fundamental source of all knowledge is our senses. Our senses are exploratory organs; we use them all to become acquainted with the world we live in. We learn that candy is sweet, and so are sugar, jam, and maple syrup. Lemons are not, and onions are not. The sun is bright and blinding. Glowing coals in the fireplace are beautiful if you don’t touch them. Sounds soothe, warn, or frighten us. Through millions of single sense-events we build a fabric of empirical information which helps us interpret, survive in, and control the world about us.
We have a number of different kinds of senses:
- The objective senses that tell us about the world: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste
- The visceral senses, in our mouths and gut that give us the sense of stomach ache
- The proprioceptive senses, in our muscles that tell us if our fist is clenched or not
- The balance senses, mostly in our ears that tell us if we are … um … balanced
However, our senses present us with a serious credibility problem. Before we start the TOK course most of us are naïve realists people who simply accept what their senses are telling them as the truth … but is there any way we can actually be sure about this? Can we really trust what our senses seem to tell us?
Unfortunately the answer must be a reluctant no. Our senses do not give us a “true picture” of the real world; they give us useful picture – a picture that is designed to help us move around, survive in and take advantage of our world. To take a simple example: if you think about it we know that the chairs we sit on are not actually not solid: they are made of atoms which are actually more space than anything else. Yet our senses tell us that they are solid. Why? Because in terms of day to day survival there is no point knowing about atoms: you need to know that a chair will hold you up if you sit on it and that a rock will hurt if it falls on you: a sensitive awareness of the arrangement of the sub-atomic particles of a boulder as it plummets towards you will not do your survival chances any good.
Other people are continual sources of information. Such information, however, is always second-hand knowledge – or third-, fourth-, or nth-hand knowledge. It is all “hearsay.” The farther it is removed from our own personal experience, the more caution we must exercise before accepting a fact-claim.
All of our historical knowledge is acquired in this way as is most of our knowledge of the sciences. We can’t experience the past or personally repeat every experiment, so we must trust the specialists and accept, though not blindly, the discoveries they record for us. They key thing with knowledge from authority is that it can be double-checked and the work of scientists and historians is continually being ‘double checked’ as other workers in the same field (even sometimes us in our classrooms) repeat their experiments or investigations. A healthy cynicism of sources, the development of the skills required to check facts and an awareness of which sources are more or less reliable is a good way to ensure that the knowledge we receive from authority is as good as it can be.
Reasoning might be defined as the process of using known facts to arrive at new facts. In this way Reason can help us arrive at new facts or new knowledge BUT only as long as the original facts we put into the process are correct and the process itself is reliable.
Imagine you are travelling in Japan and you know that the exchange rate is 200 yen to a dollar, you can easily work out that an 800 yen sushi meal will actually cost you $4. This is new knowledge (you didn’t know it before) but … it only works if your original facts are right (i.e. you’ve got the correct exchange rate and are correct about the cost of the meal) and if the process is right (you can do multiplication / division properly)
Reasoning generally comes in two forms: deduction and induction. Deduction is the kind of reasoning usually used in Maths and is the more certain of the two as it involves ‘drawing out’ valid conclusions from previously known facts – e.g. All cats are animals, Jack is a cat, so Jack is an animal. Induction, on the other hand, is usually used in Science and is less certain as it involves jumping from some things you have observed to making universal statements about all things – e.g. I drop this pencil and it falls, so it is likely all dropped pencils (and indeed things) will fall. Notice that both forms are usually dependent on sensation to give us the initial facts or ideas in the first place.
The problem with reasoning is that deduction (the most certain form of reasoning) can never teach us anything new because all the information is there in the facts at the start, while induction (the thing that can give us what seems like new knowledge) can’t ever give us anything certain, only things that are likely to be the case.
Although the word intuition has connotations of the mystical or unscientific, when carefully defined it can be considered a source of knowledge. Intuition refers to insights or bits of knowledge which suddenly ‘pop’ into consciousness as our deeper subconscious chugs away working on data that we have collected earlier. We have all probably had the experience where the answer to a question we were previously thinking about but have currently forgotten has suddenly popped into our minds for no reason. This is intuition and, as such, like reason, it too is dependent on our senses to provide the raw material on which the subconscious works.
Sometimes intuition seems to be a ‘feeling’. We often say something like “I have the feeling he’s not telling the truth,” without being sure of why. The psychologist Jung suggested that actually this is actually a form of unconscious reasoning where your subconscious picks up on the tell-tale signs of lying (sweating, nervous movements, etc) that are too subtle for your conscious mind to notice and processes them resulting in the ‘feeling’ that this person is untrustworthy.
The problem with intuition however, is that most of our intuitions are wrong and they need careful double checking before they are trusted.
- Faith often accompanied by supernatural revelation;
- Racial Memory / the Collective Unconscious – another idea of Jung’s, that we have cultural memories that we can all inherit and share without actually experiencing the thing that caused the memory in the first place;
- Extrasensory Perception;
- Anamnesis (“recollection”) or the remembrance of things from a past life;
- Spiritualism and the Occult, such as Ouija boards, tarot cards, etc.
Q2 Deinfe research. Explain the concept of research in education.
Definition: Research is defined as careful consideration of study regarding a particular concern or problem using scientific methods. According to the American sociologist Earl Robert Babbie, “research is a systematic inquiry to describe, explain, predict, and control the observed phenomenon. It involves inductive and deductive methods.”
Inductive research methods analyze an observed event, while deductive methods verify the observed event. Inductive approaches are associated with qualitative research, and deductive methods are more commonly associated with quantitative analysis.
Research is conducted with a purpose to:
- Identify potential and new customers
- Understand existing customers
- Set pragmatic goals
- Develop productive market strategies
- Address business challenges
- Put together a business expansion plan
- Identify new business opportunities
Educational research is a type of systematic investigation that applies empirical methods to solving challenges in education. It adopts rigorous and well-defined scientific processes in order to gather and analyze data for problem-solving and knowledge advancement.
- W. Best defines educational research as that activity that is directed towards the development of a science of behavior in educational situations. The ultimate aim of such a science is to provide knowledge that will permit the educator to achieve his goals through the most effective methods. The primary purpose of educational research is to expand the existing body of knowledge by providing solutions to different problems in pedagogy while improving teaching and learning practices. Educational researchers also seek answers to questions bothering on learner-motivation, development, and classroom management.
Characteristics of Education Research
While educational research can take numerous forms and approaches, several characteristics define its process and approach. Some of them are listed below:
It sets out to solve a specific problem.
Educational research adopts primary and secondary research methods in its data collection process. This means that in educational research, the investigator relies on first-hand sources of information and secondary data to arrive at a suitable conclusion.
Educational research relies on empirical evidence. This results from its largely scientific approach.
Educational research is objective and accurate because it measures verifiable information.
In educational research, the researcher adopts specific methodologies, detailed procedures, and analysis to arrive at the most objective responses
Educational research findings are useful in the development of principles and theories that provide better insights into pressing issues.
This research approach combines structured, semi-structured, and unstructured questions to gather verifiable data from respondents.
Many educational research findings are documented for peer review before their presentation.
Educational research is interdisciplinary in nature because it draws from different fields and studies complex factual relations.
Types of Educational Research
Educational research can be broadly categorized into 3 which are descriptive research, correlational research, and experimental research. Each of these has distinct and overlapping features.
Descriptive Educational Research
In this type of educational research, the researcher merely seeks to collect data with regards to the status quo or present situation of things. The core of descriptive research lies in defining the state and characteristics of the research subject being understudied.
Because of its emphasis on the “what” of the situation, descriptive research can be termed an observational research method. In descriptive educational research, the researcher makes use of quantitative research methods including surveys and questionnaires to gather the required data.
Typically, descriptive educational research is the first step in solving a specific problem. Here are a few examples of descriptive research:
A reading program to help you understand student literacy levels.
- A study of students’ classroom performance.
- Research to gather data on students’ interests and preferences.
From these examples, you would notice that the researcher does not need to create a simulation of the natural environment of the research subjects; rather, he or she observes them as they engage in their routines. Also, the researcher is not concerned with creating a causal relationship between the research variables.
Correlational Educational Research
This is a type of educational research that seeks insights into the statistical relationship between two research variables. In correlational research, the researcher studies two variables intending to establish a connection between them.
Correlational research can be positive, negative, or non-existent. Positive correlation occurs when an increase in variable A leads to an increase in variable B, while negative correlation occurs when an increase in variable A results in a decrease in variable B.
When a change in any of the variables does not trigger a succeeding change in the other, then the correlation is non-existent. Also, in correlational educational research, the research does not need to alter the natural environment of the variables; that is, there is no need for external conditioning.
- Examples of educational correlational research include:
- Research to discover the relationship between students’ behaviors and classroom performance.
- A study into the relationship between students’ social skills and their learning behaviors.
Q3 How does research contribute to national development? Support your answer by giving arguments
Developmental universities are devoted to assisting their countries address developmental challenges. Their mission focuses on two broad areas of development.
One role is the production of developmental research. This involves providing invaluable contextualised knowledge, insights and locally relevant recommendations for policy formulation and implementation; solving existential problems; creating technological products; and producing new knowledge that can be adapted for economic, political and social improvement. Developmental research projects could originate in the university or be a response to a request from private organisations or government with appropriate funding attached.
Developmental universities’ other role is to develop and turn out relevant and impactful graduates with the skills, knowledge and disposition needed to meet the requirements of wherever the university is located. Accordingly, the university is a powerful institution which grooms the next generation of agricultural scientists, social scientists, policy-makers, business leaders and entrepreneurs, public servants and other professionals.
Developmental universities carry out this role on an evidentiary basis by undertaking periodic surveys and conducting focus group sessions with alumni, communities, governmental organisations and industry about what expertise is needed to support a country’s economy and society. Secondary data is also collected through government ministries, departments and agencies.
At the time of political independence from the European colonial powers, all existing African universities were perceived as developmental universities. In that sense, they were expected to turn out relevant and impactful graduates to address national developmental problems.
These national challenges included but were not limited to extreme poverty, rampant socio-economic inequalities, low work productivity, unemployment, poor health services, the need for bridge, dam and road infrastructure, food insecurity, tribalism, limited public services and degrading sanitation.
Even now, post-independence, African universities, whether mandated or not, feel that their core mission is the production of graduates who can contribute to national development.
Recently, for example, Makerere University, one of the oldest universities in Africa, declared itself the engine of Uganda’s development. Does that suggest that Makerere University has designed and successfully carried out numerous developmental research projects and has produced an army of relevant and impactful graduates to contribute to the development of Uganda
These questions are critical in that countless African universities are stuck in status symbol mode. This is even more the case when African universities are yet to construct the criteria necessary for assessing the impact of the graduates they supposedly produce for national development.
Nonetheless, three major challenges can be identified with African universities’ mission to produce relevant and impactful graduates who contribute to national development.
First, those African universities do not collect any empirical data about the characteristics and type of graduates African societies and economies need for development. Thus, in most African universities, assessment of the effectiveness of the graduates they are producing is based on hunches and whims and sheer imitation of what is happening in the West.
Without data it is difficult to know how many graduates have been produced in any one area over a period of time; how many are in the process of being produced; how many should be produced in every academic year; what the requisite characteristics of those graduates are; and what happens to the graduates upon leaving the institution.
Of course, it is an undeniable fact that African societies and economies need engineers, managers, accountants, scientists, technologists, agriculturalists, computer programmers, primary and secondary school teachers and medical experts.
However, for example, what type of engineers or teachers do they need in terms of knowledge, skills and dispositions? For instance, what if the engineers or teachers that African universities produce are only able to function effectively in urban settings rather than rural areas? What if the teachers they churn out are unable to design locally relevant curricula, teaching pedagogies and assessment strategies to prepare young people for citizenship issues, apprenticeships or educational progression where they live?
A second issue is the lack of an empirical relationship between graduate production and the solutions needed for Africa’s hydra-headed development challenges. Turning out graduates does not automatically lead to solving African developmental challenges. Having a list of university graduates in various fields of expertise does not indicate that an African country is solving its developmental challenges.
In fact, the solutions to developmental challenges require both efficacious political and managerial action. There is the need to establish national institutions or planning frameworks that employ, coordinate and utilise, for example, engineers for national development. Without these institutional or planning frameworks, there will be no impact on these developmental challenges regardless of the number of engineers universities produce.
As far as African universities are concerned, an organisational structure must be created to foster lifelong learning via career seminars, career counselling, service learning and internships. This would help students to develop the skills and dispositions required for their chosen careers and cultivate a continuous learning habit.
Indeed, in African countries it is clear that most university graduates refuse to read materials such as newspapers. In fact, the belief that learning terminates rather than continues after graduation is well entrenched among university graduates in Africa.
The last issue is, how can African universities produce graduates who are capable of contributing to a country’s development? This must involve a special genre of pedagogies. Unfortunately, mere lectures, a battery of examinations and the traditional ‘banking education’ model of teaching, learning and assessment in African universities are most unlikely to produce relevant and impactful graduates.
‘Banking education’ is a term coined by Paulo Freire, a critical Brazilian educator and philosopher, to refer to a system of education based on mere reproduction of knowledge, the memorising of content and regurgitation of answers to academic assignments.
As he states in his famous book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed: “Education becomes an act of depositing in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiqués and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorise and respect.”
Inevitably, the banking system of education leads to treating students as objects upon which action is carried out rather than subjects of the teaching-learning process capable of engagement, contribution, participation and transformation.
A pedagogical tool that would allow African universities to produce relevant and impactful graduates for national development must provide students with ample opportunities for the application of knowledge through service learning and internships; for problem-based learning designed for the identification and solution of real problems; for instilling in students personal responsibility for their own learning; and for cultivating reflective practice and lifelong learning.
Student learning outcomes
Finally, relevant and impactful graduate production by African universities requires an output-focused approach to teaching, learning and assessment. This suggests that course content should be converted into or eplaced by student learning outcomes.
Academic courses outline what the instructor or professor intends to cover in the course as well as what students will learn. Course content and course description are used interchangeably as they show the intentions of the lecturer or professor.
Student learning outcomes (SLOs), on the other hand, are statements of what students are expected to know, understand and demonstrate upon completion of a course of study, programme, assignment or activity. Consequently, SLOs are reference points for standards of performance and the quality of teaching, learning and assessment in an institution.
Q4 Explain the nature and concept of basic research
nature of research
Marketing research functions in two ways. It identifies key characteristics and attributes of a product or service through individual interviews or group discussions (qualitative research) and it analyzes these attributes by statistical analysis of answers given in a structured set of questions such as a survey or questionnaire (quantitative research). The specific research problem determines whether to employ one or both modes.
Sometimes, research may be aimed at expanding a field of knowledge or improving the understanding of a natural phenomenon. This type of research is known as a basic, pure or fundamental research, and it is a major means of generating new ideas, principles and theories.
In many cases, basic research fuels scientific innovations and development because it is driven by the need to unravel the unknown. In this article, we will define what basic research is, its data collection methods and how it differs from other approaches to research.
What is Basic Research
Basic research is a type of research approach that is aimed at gaining a better understanding of a subject, phenomenon or basic law of nature. This type of research is primarily focused on the advancement of knowledge rather than solving a specific problem.
Basic research is also referred to as pure research or fundamental research. The concept of basic research emerged between the late 19th century and early 20th century in an attempt to bridge the gaps existing in the societal utility of science.
Typically, basic research can be exploratory, descriptive or explanatory; although in many cases, it is explanatory in nature. The primary aim of this research approach is to gather information in order to improve one’s understanding, and this information can then be useful in proffering solutions to a problem.
Examples of Basic Research
Basic research can be carried out in different fields with the primary aim of expanding the frontier of knowledge and developing the scope of these fields of study. Examples of basic research can be seen in medicine, education, psychology, technology, to mention but a few.
Basic Research Example in Education
In education, basic research is used to develop pedagogical theories that explain teaching and learning behaviours in the classroom. Examples of basic research in education include the following:
- How does the Language Acquisition Device work on children?
- How does the human retentive memory work?
- How do teaching methods affect student’s concentration in class?
- Basic Research Example in Science
Basic research advances scientific knowledge by helping researchers understand the function of newly discovered molecules and cells, strange phenomena, or little-understood processes. As with other fields, basic research is responsible for many scientific breakthroughs; even though the knowledge gained may not seem to yield immediate benefits.
Examples of basic research in science include:
- A research to determine the chemical composition of organic molecules.
- A research to discover the components of the human DNA.
Basic Research Example in Psychology
In psychology, basic research helps individuals and organisations to gain insights and better understanding into different conditions. It is entirely theoretical and allows psychologists to understand certain behaviors better without providing solutions to these behaviours or phenomena.
Examples of basic research in psychology include:
- Do stress levels make individuals more aggressive?
- To what extent does caffeine consumption affect classroom concentration?
- A research on behavioral differences between children raised by separated families and children raised by married parents.
- To what extent do gender stereotypes trigger depression?
Basic Research Example in Health
Basic research methods improve healthcare by providing different dimensions to the understanding and interpretation of healthcare issues. For example, it allows healthcare practitioners to gain more insight into the origin of diseases which can help to provide cures to chronic medical conditions.
Many health researchers opine that many vaccines are developed based on an understanding of the causes of the disease such as in the case of the polio vaccine. Several medical breakthroughs have been attributed to the wealth of knowledge provided through basic research.
Examples of basic research in health include:
- An investigation into the symptoms of Coronavirus.
- An investigation into the causative factors of malaria
- An investigation into the secondary symptoms of high blood pressure.
- Basic Research Method
An interview is a common method of data collection in basic research that involves having a one-on-one interaction with an individual in order to gather relevant information about a phenomenon. Interview can be structured, unstructured or semi-structured depending on the research process and objectives.
In a structured interview, the researcher asks a set of premeditated questions while in an unstructured interview, the researcher does not make use of a set of premeditated questions. Rather he or she depends on spontaneity and follow-up questioning in order to gather relevant information.
On the other hand, a semi-structured interview is a type of interview that allows the researcher to deviate from premeditated questions in order to gather more information about the research subject. You can conduct structured interviews online by creating and administering a survey online on Formplus.
Observation is a type of data-gathering method that involves paying close attention to a phenomenon for a specific period of time in order to gather relevant information about its behaviors. When carrying out basic research, the researcher may need to study the research subject for a stipulated period as it interacts with its natural environment.
Observation can be structured or unstructured depending on its procedures and approach. In structured observation, the data collection is carried out using a predefined procedure and in line with a specific schedule while unstructured observation is not restricted to a predetermined procedure.
An experiment is a type of quantitative data-gathering method that seeks to validate or refute a hypothesis and it can also be used to test existing theories. In this method of data collection, the researcher manipulates dependent and independent variables to achieve objective research outcomes.
Typically, in an experiment, the independent variable is modified or changed in order to determine its effects on the dependent variables in the research context. This can be done using 3 major methods which are controlled experiments, field experiments, and natural experiments
Q.5 Explain in our own words the key characteristics of experimental research.
Experimental research is research conducted with a scientific approach using two sets of variables. The first set acts as a constant, which you use to measure the differences of the second set. Quantitative research methods, for example, are experimental.
If you don’t have enough data to support your decisions, you must first determine the facts. Experimental research gathers the data necessary to help you make better decisions.
Any research conducted under scientifically acceptable conditions uses experimental methods. The success of experimental studies hinges on researchers confirming the change of a variable is based solely on the manipulation of the constant variable. The research should establish a notable cause and effect.
- You can conduct experimental research in the following situations:
- Time is a vital factor in establishing a relationship between cause and effect.
- Invariable behavior between cause and effect.
- You wish to understand the importance of the cause and effect.
- Learn about: Quantitative Market Research
- Types of experimental research design
The classic experimental design definition is, “The methods used to collect data in experimental studies.”
There are three primary types of experimental design:
- Pre-experimental research design
- True experimental research design
- Quasi-experimental research design
The way you classify research subjects, based on conditions or groups, determines the type of research design you should use.
- Pre-experimental research design: A group, or various groups, are kept under observation after implementing factors of cause and effect. You’ll conduct this research to understand whether further investigation is necessary for these particular groups.
You can break down pre-experimental research further in three types:
- One-shot Case Study Research Design
- One-group Pretest-posttest Research Design
- Static-group Comparison
- True experimental research design: True experimental research relies on statistical analysis to prove or disprove a hypothesis, making it the most accurate form of research. Of the types of experimental design, only true design can establish a cause-effect relationship within a group. In a true experiment, three factors need to be satisfied:
- There is a Control Group, which won’t be subject to changes, and an Experimental Group, which will experience the changed variables.
- A variable which can be manipulated by the researcher
- Random distribution
This experimental research method commonly occurs in the physical sciences
- Quasi-experimental research design: The word “Quasi” indicates similarity. A quasi-experimental design is similar to experimental, but it is not the same. The difference between the two is the assignment of a control group. In this research, an independent variable is manipulated, but the participants of a group are not randomly assigned. Quasi-research is used in field settings where random assignment is either irrelevant or not required.
- Advantages of experimental research
- It’s vital to test new ideas or theories. Why put time, effort, and funding into something that may not work
- Experimental research allows you to test your idea in a controlled environment before taking it to market. It also provides the best method to test your theory, thanks to the following advantages:
- Advantages of experimental research
- Researchers have a stronger hold over variables to obtain desired results.
- The subject or industry does not impact the effectiveness of experimental research. Any industry can implement it for research purposes.
- The results are specific.
- After analyzing the results, you can apply your findings to similar ideas or situations.
- You can identify the cause and effect of a hypothesis. Researchers can further analyze this relationship to determine more in-depth ideas.
Experimental research makes an ideal starting point. The data you collect is a foundation on which to build more ideas and conduct more research.