Variables of the Study in the Research Paradigm: Which Ones to Include?

In doing your research, what variables of the study should be included in the research paradigm? This article provides advice and gives five issues and problems and five examples of identifying variables to illustrate how it is done.

While trying to conceptualize their research paradigm, one of the doctors in educational administration students in my advanced statistics class once asked: “How do you choose the study variables? Which ones should be included in the research paradigm?”

This concern comes up when dealing with research problems involving several variables. Such studies employ multivariate analysis like multiple regression, factor analysis, discriminant analysis, among others. Many quantitative dissertation papers use these statistical tests. Therefore, the variables of the study need to be correctly identified before data gathering.

Of course, to put everything in its proper context, the study’s paradigm appears in the latter part of the formal research paper. Choosing the variables of a study requires a good understanding of the topic under investigation. A good understanding of the subject comes after a thorough review of related literature. However, it would be best to clarify what issues or problems you want to investigate.

Thus, choosing the variables that will form part of the paradigm requires clear thesis statements.  Given that the graduate students’ pursue a doctoral degree in educational administration, they must look into issues or problems related to their specialization. 

Given the preceding discussion, a doctor of education degree prepares individuals to serve as leaders in schools or colleges or work for school districts or government organizations. Doctor of education holders usually researches for policy-making purposes. Hence, the exploration of educational administration topics precedes any research activity.

Variables of the Study

5 Examples of Emerging Educational Issues

Research titles reflect the variables of the study. For example, the following issues or problems on educational administration may be looked into by graduate students of educational administration:

  1. Efficacy of peer supervision,
  2. Factors affecting the impact of professional development programs on teachers’ performance,
  3. Factors affecting students’ self-efficacy in elementary education,
  4. Classroom factors affecting students’ academic achievement, and
  5. Factors affecting the effective integration of information technology in the classroom.

Corresponding Examples of Variables

The above titles expressly state or imply the variables of the study. Specifically, in the specific order given above, the variables considered include:

  1. peer supervision or arrangements where peers work together for mutual benefit;
  2. professional development programs, teachers’ performance;
  3. factors affecting students’ self-efficacy such as performance experience, vicarious experience, social persuasion, imaginal experience, and physical and emotional states (Bandura, 1988), students’ self-efficacy;
  4. classroom factors, students’ achievement; and
  5. factors affecting the use of information technology, the effectiveness of information technology.

Meanwhile, for statistical tests to be appropriately applied, the variables must be measurable. The variables belong to any of the four types of variables: nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio.

The types of variables included in the paradigm determine the statistical technique to use for such variables. Different combinations of variables mean applying various statistical tests appropriate in finding out if there are correlations or differences between variables.

Finally, I provide you an example to hammer the idea home. To illustrate, I am providing an example related to the student’s experiences to demonstrate what the previous explanation means clearly.

Self-Efficacy Theory

The following paradigm demonstrates the relationship of variables in the study on students’ self-efficacy based on the Self-Efficacy Theory.

variables of the study
Factors affecting self-efficacy [Source: LaRocca (2017)].

Hence, self-efficacy is determined by five experiences summed up into performance, vicarious, social, imaginal, and physical and emotional states. These themes emerged presumably from previous studies on what determines a person’s attitude towards a specific task in a particular context.

Raina Burditt explains Self-Efficacy Theory in more detail the influential factors that determine self-efficacy in the video below:

Self-efficacy Theory explained.

Finally, I believe that practice makes perfect. Now, try to work on the other four examples given above. Doing so will test your understanding of how to determine which variables to include in your study.


Bandura, A. (1988). Organisational applications of social cognitive theory. Australian Journal of management, 13(2), 275-302.

LaRocca, B. (2017). Self-efficacy tookit. Retrieved on September 24, 2018 from

© 2018 September 24 P. A. Regoniel



  1. Regoniel, Patrick A. December 20, 2018
  2. Stephen S. Rodrigues, MD December 13, 2018