Some Research Topics

I am continuing my dissertation research in order to find a suitable topic. This article highlights potential research questions.

  1. There are a variety of Self-Directed Learning Strategies observed by researchers, but are these trainable things or are they categories created in the mind of researchers which are not useful for causal intervention?
    1. Design: Random control trial. Get 3 groups of students taking the same class, or executing similar study followed by similar tasks. Leave the control ignorant of the strategies, require another group to comply with some strategy, and give the third group information about the strategy but explain that it is optional.
    2. Steps should be taken to avoid endogeneity through grading by a teacher with a predisposition.
  2. There are a variety of psychosocial factors which contribute to success. Are these trainable? How about the Big 5 personality traits? Grit?
  3. There are a variety of interventions known to improve outcomes in low-income areas. Do they work elsewhere and are they reproducible?
  4. Real causal analysis including RCT or regression discontinuity (RD) analysis is difficult and costly. What about a survey which asks different kinds of people whether they think factors are trainable and/or interventions are likely to work?
    1. Survey groups including: Teachers, students, employers, employees, economists, and political scientists. Separate higher education groups from K-12 groups.
    2. Such interventions and factors may include gamification, teaching SDLSs, online learning, flipped learning, school finance changes, public policy changes, and so on.
    3. Some baseline or corrective questions might be included to see if there is a general pro-intervention bias. Such a question might ask about a made up intervention,  one which is known not to work, and so on.
  5. Physical-space experimentation, RCT, RD, and interventions are costly. Are there virtual analogs?
    1. Two kinds of virtual analogs include information-as-intervention studies and program-aided studies. Program-aided studies include two subsets. The first is simulation including agent-based modeling. A second subset of program-aided study is to take a game world with real players who are acting as game participants and conduct some sort of experiment. Analytics analysis may work as well, where some change is done to a website and inference is drawn from site analytics instead of participant survey or individual observation.
  6. Change management indicates that undesired changes will be more costly to implement in an organization. Is this reflected in education policy?
    1. For example, did Common Core have better or worse effects or costs explained by the partisanship of the area?
    2. Will vouchers or public choice initiatives likely run into such issues in the future? Did they in the past?
  7. Interesting topics not for my dissertation but maybe a later paper.
    1. Does explanation of heredity of political preference or other factors improve if a right hand variable is included which accounts for the individual’s favorability of their own parents?
    2. What should economists do? A normative and moral investigation.
      1. I think Buchanan and others with similar papers do not make credible moral arguments or even address the question head-on as a moral question.
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