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Research Problems and Objectives in Language Learning

Research problems refer to questions raised to be answered through research projects. Research questions are different from questions raised by journalist, by classroom teachers, or by a book reader. Research questions between one and another research which is used different research design are different. Good research questions are stated clearly, involving clear assessable and accessible variables, showing clear relationship of the variables to be investigated. The answer to the questions has to give some theoretical as well as practical contribution.

Research problems

Defining Research Problems
Research problems refer to questions raised in a research project which clearly reflects what kind answers is expected to be discovered through the process of research (Ary, Jacobs, Razavieh, 1979:42). The clearest research problems are those stated in a direct question or in indirect question (Tuckman, 1999:28). For instance, “do female junior school students achieve Math skills better than male junior school students?”
The right answer to “What is your research questions?” is not the difficulties or the constraints confronted by the researcher, but the questions raised by the researcher in the research project.

Uniqueness of Research Problems
Questions raised by researchers are different from questions raised by journalists (news reporter), or questions asked by language teachers. Answers to journalists’ questions are obtained from the result of observation; seeing, listening, interviewing the object in question. They report factual information without necessarily analyzing the information. Therefore, the product journalists is news or factual information. Answers to researchers’ questions, on the other hand, are not simply factual information, but inferences based on the result of analysis of the information collected.

Expected Answers to Research Problems
Answers to research questions are resulted from the analysis of the information (data) collected and contain knowledge of patterns, rule of the object being studied.
For example,

  1. A model of effective English classroom instructions (Descriptive Qualitative)
  2. An effective and motivating instructional materials for Elementary school students learning English (Research and Development)
  3. Instructional Strategies using Picture Games that help improve elementary school student participation in speaking classes (Classroom Action Research)
  4. Learning Reading in small group discussions by junior high school students in Kediri is more effective than in conventional classrooms (Experimental Research)
  5. The stronger the students are motivated in doing the instructional tasks in learning Reading, the higher they achieve reading skills (Correlation Research)
  6. Senior High school students graduating from state junior high schools achieve English learning better at the end of their second year of Senior high school than those graduating from private junior high school (Ex-post Facto)
Those sample answers to research questions, which can be obtained only from the result of analysis, will contribute to the development of knowledge in English teaching and learning (Borg, Gall, 1983:86; Ary, Jacobs, Razavieh, 1979:47; Vockel, Asher, 1995:19; Tuckman, 1999:28)

Content of Research Problems
Nothing in this world runs successfully by accident, without an underlying law, rule, or pattern. So there is a law of everything, like a law of health, a law of friendship, a law of success. Only when these laws are running then the objects function well. The law of health must be obeyed if we want to live a healthy life. A law of friendship must be obeyed if we want to keep good friendship. If we want to succeed, in anything at all, we have to follow the law of success. English instruction, too, can’t run effectively without certain law to be followed. It is these laws that are to be discovered by researchers. The content of research questions, then, must be about the law to be discovered.
English class instructions cannot be effective by chance they must be effective because a certain law has been applied in the instructional process. The teacher of an effective English class may not even be consciously aware that a certain law of instructional effectiveness has applied. It is a researcher on his effective instruction who can discover the law of instructional effectiveness that has been applied through his/her research. It is this research finding that contributes to the development of knowledge of English class instructions.

Significance of Research Problems
Research problems play a very important role in research (Hatch & Farhady, 1982:1, Suyanto:20). It usually takes quite a lot of time to find a good research problem and to state in a clear statement of research problem. Once research problems is selected, the researcher has consequently selected the topic of the research, the area of the research, sources to collect data from, technique of data collection, instrument to collect data, and the technique to analyze data. In conclusion, the quality of a research is very much determined by the quality of its research problem. A bad research problem will not lead to a good research.

When the research problems are not clearly stated, the researcher will not be able to choose the right research design. This will make it difficult to conduct the research project correctly.

Those are about defining, content, and significance of research problems of the research. Good research problem will lead to a good research and vice versa. So, understanding more research problems is expected before the researcher is doing the real research on the field.
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