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How do You Write a Problem Statement?


Important Things to Consider Before Writing the Problem Statement

In order to be able to write a problem statement, the student must have a clear idea of the specific topic that he would like to look into in his research venture. This requires a good understanding of what has been done so far related to the subject at hand.

How should this understanding be achieved? Understanding requires previous knowledge of previous investigations made on the subject matter so that a synthesis of the important concepts and identification of the specific variables of the study are arrived at. The student must be able to draw out his own conceptual framework from his observations, review of scientific literature, and insights gained from readings as well as experience.

The student, after going through the above mentioned stages of the research process, will then be able to write a problem statement which will be the basis of the actual investigation to be performed. 

How to Write a Problem Statement

A problem statement should be written in such a way that the specific variables in the study are incorporated. These variables may show cause-effect relationship.

For example, a student taking a masteral course in the graduate school might want to investigate if teaching style has something to do with academic performance of elementary pupils. The variables in this investigation are teaching style and academic performance.

To be more specific, two teaching styles may be employed, namely 1) just a brief verbal praise when the pupil answers the teacher’s question about a given topic, and 2) verbal praise with a pat on the back of the pupil answering the question correctly. Academic performance may be a summative test on the same topic discussed in class.

Given this situation, a problem statement can then be written thus:

  1. Is there a relationship or correlation between teaching style and academic performance?

Two related problem statements may also be asked related to the proposed research investigation on teaching style and academic performance such as:

  1. What is the academic performance of pupils in (say English, Mathematics, Social Studies) in terms of their score in summative test?
  2. What are the teaching styles of teachers in (a given elementary school)?

At this point, these questions will enable the researcher to figure out what specific statistical tools will have to be applied to answer the problem statement/s. This will also provide the researcher an idea on how to organize his raw data in such a way that this will lend itself to analysis and understanding of the results of the investigation.

Next Steps in the Research Process

Now, you are armed with a good knowledge on how to write a problem statement. The next step is to find out ways on how to organize and present your data to facilitate understanding of your results. You will also need to be familiar with the specific statistical tools that will allow you to analyze raw data to make them meaningful such that you are able to discuss the results of your study.

©2012 October 16 Patrick A. Regoniel

By Patrick Regoniel, Ph D

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