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

One of the doctor in educational administration students in my advanced statistics class once asked: “How do you choose the variables of the study? 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 properly identified prior to data gathering.

Of course, to put everything in its proper context, the paradigm of the study appears in the later 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 topic comes after a thorough review of related literature. However, you need to be clear beforehand on 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. 

In view of the foregoing, 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 do research for policy making purposes. Hence, exploration of educational administration topics precedes any research activity.

Variables of the Study

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.

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, effectiveness of information technology.

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

Finally, an illustrated example hammers the idea in. The following paradigm demonstrates the relationship of variables in the study on students’ self-efficacy:

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

Finally, I believe that practice makes perfect. Try to work on the other four examples to test your understanding.


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 https://www.transformingeducation.org/self-efficacy-toolkit/

© 2018 September 24 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (September 24, 2018). Variables of the Study in the Research Paradigm: Which Ones to Include?. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from https://simplyeducate.me/2018/09/24/variables-of-the-study/