Are you looking for topics that you can research at home to comply with the research requirements of your course? This article is for you. Explore the 10 research topics and develop your own. Read on to find out more about these research topics.
For students confined in their homes, research skills application during the pandemic due to COVID-19 poses quite a challenge. The quarantine forces them to look for research problems at home to start a meaningful research venture.
Expectedly, students turn to Google to seek possible research topics at home that they can do under quarantine. Given this assumption, I did look for research problems that students could work on in their homes to verify if there are answers to such questions.
However, after using several keywords that revolve around research at home due to the constraints of the pandemic, I could not find any straightforward answer. The nearest answer I could get is a person who answered the question on quora.com, saying there are many research topics at home that students can explore. But then he enumerated three research topics without even expounding on them.
Hence, I took the initiative of writing this article for students who need guidance along the conceptualization stage of their walk to understand how the world works. We walk the talk.
This article explores ten topics that students or young researchers can work on in the safety of their homes. While some research instructors would leave the task for students to fend for themselves, I saw the need to share what I think. Giving them a list of possible research topics that I can think of paves the way to student learning. I usually give examples to jumpstart the minds of my students, being a firm believer of the adage “Practice what you preach.” I demonstrate what I teach.
Of course, I know that I do not monopolize the ideas out there. And I know creativity resides in everyone. For budding researchers, they must develop their thinking skills and engage the creative part of their brain. After all, one of the qualities of a good researcher is to be creative in pursuing higher levels of learning.
Table of Contents
Research Problems at Home
The following research problems at home settings can help you explore and apply your research knowledge and skills. These research topics cropped up in my mind while exploring areas of inquiry that my students can pursue even while under quarantine.
These research topics are suggestive, not prescriptive; meaning, you as a research student can adopt flexibility in your choice of research focus given these suggestions. Creativity and novelty are keys to a meaningful research venture.
In addition, I include those research problems that interest me but which are outside of my specialization. But I conduct simple researches on things out of curiosity and hunger for discovery, especially those research topics where I can use my knowledge and skills in statistics, systems modeling, and data visualization.
Physiological Effects of the Pandemic to Families
I have come across reports that some people have insomnia due to the threats of COVID-19. It would be interesting to know the reasons why people have difficulty sleeping. You can ask a family member who exhibits such a problem.
You may use the Case Study approach in this instance, focusing on the individual with the problem and recording the process. Some questions I could figure out are as follows:
- How much time do you spend lying in bed before you are able to sleep?
- Are there things that bother you that keep you from sleeping?
- Do you engage in activities to ease your insomnia? What are these?
- How do you feel if you have not slept the night before?
- Are you taking medicines to remedy your sleeplessness?
Note that all these questions have answers that will lend themselves to some form of measurement scale. If you are able to quantify them, a study with more respondents will be possible. Consider the case study as a benchmark for a larger study on sleeplessness due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I found a useful android app, Sleep Monitor, to measure and monitor sleeping patterns. Researchers can use this simple app in lieu of costly polysomnogram or sleep study to assess a person’s sleeping behavior.
I have had sleep problems before but Sleep Monitor helped me identify the cause of my insomnia. I realized that I have sensitive ears, so I reduced the sources of noise in my room. I worked towards a sound intensity of less than 30 decibels. It helped a lot.
Children’s Behavior at Home
How children behave during a pandemic would be an interesting research topic. I would hypothesize that complete families (i.e., at least the father, mother, and child) would be happy to be together and establish a closer bond. Mothers are able to nurse their young kids, guide them in their assignments online any time of the day, play with them, among other things. Hence, kids perhaps would be happier in their homes while studying.
Really? Nobody knows.
Perhaps they may be more irritable as they could not be with their friends to play. Peer-to-peer interaction is limited. Sharing notes with colleagues about their experience would be worth a data to analyze. Problems of validating the data, however, would be a challenge in this research problem.
Nevertheless, I believe it’s worth pursuing.
Mini-Ecosystems at Home
As a research project in environmental science, you might want to study plants and animals living within and around your home. Microecosystems such as ponds, the garden, a mini-forest, or a grassy portion of your home can serve as study areas. You can poke, dig, and take photographs of insects, arthropods, reptiles, birds, and perhaps mammals.
Just at the back of our home, I took pictures of insects, moths, birds, and mammals and contribute to Project Noah. You can add to the body of knowledge by giving information on the animal or plant species. Characterize them by giving details such as the location where you saw them, their feeding habits, reproductive behavior, nesting habits, among other things. We call this citizen science.
You might want to do morphometrics where you measure the different parts of the animal after you have captured them. You may employ a mark-recapture experiment of small animals that visit your home.
Read More: 5 Easy Science Experiments at Home
Challenges of Online Education
I heard that teachers face unique challenges while carrying out their duties to impart knowledge to their students. It’s a struggle for both teachers and students. Teachers who were unprepared for online activity get to construct their instructional modules in record time.
Read More: Choosing Best Online Resources for Kids
In my case, it didn’t matter much as I have designed instructional modules even before the pandemic. I already developed and maintained websites that house the contents of the subjects I teach.
If you are interested on how I implemented my online classes during the pandemic, you might want to see my original work titled Blended Website Learning Model to help enrich students’ learning.
At this point, I would say that the system I developed is quite effective in teaching and mentoring my students. And I would like to compare this system with other systems employed by other educational institutions.
Hence, I have come up with indicators that I measured during system implementation. During the last week of this semester, I plan to administer a questionnaire to get feedback from my students. The information I get will be helpful in further refining the instructional approach I employed in the model. Perhaps I can correlate student performance with the quality of their internet connectivity, the time they allocate for online work and fulfilling their assignments, among other related activities.
The questions I will ask will be something like the following:
- Is there a relationship between the student’s quiz scores and their attendance in short online sessions?
- Is there significant relationship between the student’s rating of internet connectivity and the length of time it takes them to submit their class outputs?
- Is there a relationship between the student’s punctuality in the submission of class work and the type of digital gadget that they use to access the internet?
All these questions imply the use of variables that allow statistical analysis to take place. Variables may be nominal, ordinal, interval, or ratio.
Household Coping Activities
Asking questions on how the household head copes with the food scarcity threat under quarantine would be worth knowing. Reporting the creativity of people due to lockdowns can help other people who struggle to make ends meet.
Assuming that households do not just rely on government support, the following questions can trigger an exploration:
- What activities does the breadwinner do at home to meet or augment the food needs of the family?
- What support do other members of the family give to the breadwinner?
- Which coping activities work best?
- How long can the present monetary resources support the family?
- Do households conduct formal meetings with members of the family to cope with the pandemic? If there are, what strategies have they come up with?
- What expenses do members of the family incur? Do they set a certain amount of money to specific items?
Study the Backyard Pollinators
If you have a large lawn or you have considerable space in your backyard where trees, flowers, or vegetables are grown, observing the kinds of pollinators that visit your place might be worth looking at. Pollinators can range from birds, bees, insects, reptiles, and others that you might not expect.
Knowing the time these pollinators come, what plant species they visit, how many flowers they visit, among others you can figure out can be a good science discovery.
Specifically, some statistical and non-statistical questions to ask are as follows:
- What types of pollinators are present in your yard?
- Is there a one-to-one correspondence between the pollinator and the plants that they visit?
- How many plant species does a specific pollinator visit?
- Is there an association between the time of day and the appearance of pollinators?
- How much time do bees (as pollinators) spend on each flower?
Higher level, relational questions may be asked by the researcher to reflect higher-order thinking skills. Doing so depends on the set of research objectives set forth at the beginning of the study. It all comes down to the level of complexity that you would want in your research at home. You need to review the literature before anything else to identify what has not been studied yet.
Compare stars at night to determine sky’s darkness
Gazing at the stars at night presents an opportunity to study the weather. Counting the visible ones at certain times of the season can help you compare good and bad weather days. More stars become visible if no clouds are found in the horizon.
If you can afford a good quality telescope, that would be the tool of the young astronomer in you. Telescopes have become affordable these days. If you still can’t afford it, count the stars with your naked eye.
Study the ingredients of canned goods as your research at home
You can look at the ingredients of canned and other packaged goods stocked in your homes to avoid getting out and buying the family’s food needs. Many of the food items that last contain preservatives to extend shelf life.
Here’s a video by Eleanor Nelsen on how preservatives work.
Although preserved foods can keep you alive for an extended time period, it would be wise to consider other means to get your food in a healthy way. At the beginning of the pandemic, I explored different ways to grow food. In the process, I discovered an interesting gardening method called lithic mulching.
Without much ado, I started planting vegetables and bought seeds on rare occasions of buying the groceries. My harvest sure helped a lot in keeping the family safe from the clutches of COVID-19. Plus, of course, the healthy diet the greens can give to the body.
The gardening activity posed challenges because I encountered pests and plant diseases. These problems are areas of interest that one can add to their list of research problems at home.
Time and Motion Study
You may conduct a time and motion study in your home using the video camera of your cellphone. Although this research method is applied to improve work systems in organizations, banks, schools, and other offices, it may be interesting to see how people spend their time at home.
You might want to study members of your family to find out how much time they spend on a task and what tasks they are working on. That will be an excellent research at home that you can report to your teacher, compare notes with your classmates, and get insights from them. Sharing the findings with your family might help improve their behavior towards tasks that they need to do at home.
Just make sure the subjects are not aware that they do not know you are doing it. If they are aware that you are studying them, they will change their behavior. We call that the Hawthorne Effect.
Experimental Study on Renewable Energy
Given that more energy will be consumed when you spend your time at home most of the time, exploring ways to generate electricity through renewable energy innovations will help you on the bill payments.
Build a simple wind turbine and see how much energy it can generate. Compare its electrical output with other alternative energy generating innovations like solar panels, or a mini-hydroelectric power plant if you live next to a river. That example of a mini-hydroelectric power plant I linked here can support up to 15 households! No more brownouts or blackouts.
You can vary your product designs and compare the amount of energy produced by those renewable energy innovations. Thus, you can come up with something that you might even sell for a profit.
Writing a meta-analysis does not require you to leave your home to do research. The research activity essentially reviews and synthesizes relevant research publications about a research topic. It systematically combines data obtained from selected qualitative and quantitative studies that deal with a specific issue or problem.
The meta-analysis intends to come up with a single conclusion that has stronger statistical power. Stronger statistical power is achieved because of the greater number of subjects involved, greater diversity, and corroborating evidences that support or refute the hypothesis of the study. Meta-analysis builds on the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Conduct a Literature Review
All of these research problems or research topics require a thorough review of the literature to achieve a certain level of quality. Well-written research makes a good review of literature on the research topic before these are implemented. The main purpose of such a review is to avoid duplicating the work of others. The gap in knowledge is identified, making the research a worthwhile endeavor and worth sharing.
While research at home settings poses quite a challenge to students due to limited movement, the areas of inquiry mentioned in this article and the specific research topics enumerated can help jumpstart an educational activity that will enhance critical thinking.
Ideas beget ideas. Just allow your mind to wander but be ready to capture amazing ideas that pop in your head with a quick jot on your ideas notes. Your subconscious mind works 24/7 even while you sleep. So it is always a good idea to keep a small notebook and pen next to you.
I would not recommend using a cellphone to write your notes, as you will need to browse items using it and get distracted with other time-consuming popular apps like Tiktok, Facebook, Messenger, or WhatsApp that draw your attention. A good researcher needs to focus on narrowing a research topic. It’s alright to use those apps once you have finished your task.
Although I use Keep Notes in listing the things I need to buy like groceries and hardware, things to remember, draft messages of sensitive matters, among others, I tend to lose my notes causing me to spend more time searching for it. Further, keeping notes in electronic form becomes problematic when your cellphone’s battery is out of juice.
Concluding Notes on Research at Home
Virtually everyone, with the right tools and attitude, can research at home. Confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity that enables students to think creatively. Right in our homes lie many issues and problems that research will be able to address as the topics raised in this article demonstrated.
Once you identify research problems at home, you will encounter new challenges and opportunities along the way. New areas of home-based inquiry, research problems or research topics arise, thereby enriching your experience as a student. Education, despite the pandemic, goes on.
This is a good time to undertake a review of the literature on a research topic that you are interested in. Research problems at home can be identified with a little imagination.
© P. A. Regoniel 6 June 2021