Q: How do I write the conceptual framework of my study?

Detailed Question -

How do I write the conceptual framework of factors affecting students performance?

1 Answer to this question

Thank you for your interesting question!

It would help to have a background of your parameters. For example, student performance can be measured in terms of academic success, which in turn can be a product of consistency or improvement, metrics in examinations or participation in classes and projects, or simply the completion of a course and pursuit of further education along with post-academic success (in their careers) resulting from academic achievement.

The factors affecting the former could include biological, sociological, economic, psychological, and environmental factors, to name a few.

As the concept seems to draw on several aspects of theory and no single research would be able to fully explain student performance, a good starting point would be to have a theoretical framework in place.

A quick search on Google Scholar revealed determinants of student performance such as learning abilities, race, gender, sex, economic circumstances, the risk of dropping out, age, distance of learning centers from residences, school type, sociological factors, student-specific factors like impatience, initiatives like study groups, and a student’s roommates/classmates.

You may not need to restrict yourself to open access papers, because the variables or factors considered by studies are usually available in the abstract, which can be accessed for most papers in the field. You may also want to try the R Discovery mobile app (you’ll find Google Play and App store links here). It recommends top articles related to your area of interest every day without having to search far and wide.

The next step would be to identify a gap in the literature. Are there any variables you can identify that have not been covered in research so far? Else, are there any unexplored relationships, pathways, or dynamics among the variables that have already been considered? For example, while one study may have considered the effect of learning abilities and another study may have evaluated the impact of student-specific factors like impatience, has any study considered the effect of both variables together, possibly using a moderation/mediation framework? Finally, can the same variables and same dynamic be explored in a new setting (another education system, country, area, etc.)? These are some types of gaps that the study may be able to bridge, justifying the importance of conducting your research.

Based on the variables, pathways, and setting identified, you can now construct your hypothesis (for e.g., X has a positive/negative mediating effect on the relationship between Y and Z in country A). One thing to consider when selecting your variables is whether they’re pertinent to your setting; for example, if you’re focusing on an area where all students are from a similar socioeconomic background, you won’t have a control group of students from a different background, so you won’t be able to determine the effect of this factor. Another thing to note is whether the variables considered are observable in your setting; for example, do you have access to information regarding the economic background of students’ families? Without access to this information, it would be impossible to focus on this variable.

Once you decide your variables, you can proceed to determine the measures and methods. For instance, let’s say we choose the risk of dropping out as a variable. In terms of measures, should we consider it to be a dummy variable where the risk either exists or it doesn’t? Or should we measure it on a scale (that is, as a variable that can take a range of values) based on certain parameters such as the presence of siblings in the family and whether they’ve dropped out or completed their education? In terms of methods, should we use a randomized control trial to ensure that only the risk of dropping out is affecting student performance without any other extraneous factor? Or is this infeasible since it is impossible to divide students into groups facing and not facing this risk, because it’s not a binary variable?

Overall, a conceptual framework is your take on the existing body of research and your own study in terms of how it contributes to bridging a gap or furthering knowledge in the field, along with justification of your choice of variables, measures, and methods.  

We wish you the very best with your framework and study