Creating Measures for a Study
Hypothetical Study Topic: Effect of Sleep Deprivation on the Test Scores for College Students
Studies have established that the amount of sleep significantly affects brain functioning. Sleep is an important part of the daily human routine. The normal length of sleep for an adult human being is 5-8 hours per day. This implies that human beings spend about a third of their lifetime asleep (American Sleep Association (ASA), 2021). Similar to other basic needs such as food and water, sleep is crucial for the proper functioning of the body. It is essential for several brain functions, including the communication between the nerve cells. Accordingly, the lack of quality sleep has been linked with disorders such as depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases (ASA, 2021). However, some circumstances may force human beings to go for longer periods without sleep, a situation referred to as sleep deprivation. Due to the role that quality sleep plays in brain functioning and, consequently, academic outcomes, the current study aims to develop the measures of the variables that can be used to conduct a study on the impact of sleep deprivation among college students a few days before a test.
In the proposed study, participants will be deprived of sleep a few days before the test. This will imply that for some participants, the longer the time participants are deprived of sleep, the more hours they will spend studying. Sleep deprivation can be categorized as partial sleep deprivation or total sleep deprivation. In the current study, participants will be subjected to both forms of sleep deprivation. Partial sleep deprivation will entail participants being subjected to insufficient sleep time per night during the investigation period. According to the American Sleep Association (2021), the effects of sleep deprivation can be more easily noticed in the individual’s body than in the brain. However, the effects on the brain are riskier and more dangerous than on the body. Sleep deprivation affects the prefrontal cortex, which controls higher-function activities such as creativity, executive functions, and language. This deprivation causes over-exertion of the prefrontal cortex, resulting in impaired concentration, reduced coordination, and alertness. Chronic partial sleep deprivation may have similar effects to total sleep deprivation.
Total sleep deprivation will entail subjecting the participants to more than 24 hours without sleeping. This is expected to affect the speed and accuracy of executing activities. Ideally, a test requires accuracy to get to provide the most suitable answers to questions and speed to complete the test within the set time. This implies that such an effect will automatically affect the outcome of the test scores. Total sleep deprivation also affects short-term and long-term memories. According to the American Sleep Association (2021), total sleep deprivation can be categorized into five stages. The first stage entails a lack of sleep for 24 24-hour period, the second stage entails a lack of sleep for 48 hours, and the fifth stage entails a lack of sleep for 96 hours. Every stage has greater effects compared to its preceding stage. However, the study participants will not be subjected to sleep deprivation that would have serious effects on their brains and bodies.
Study Measures: Conceptualization and Operationalization
Establishing the most accurate and efficient measures is one of the most important aspects of formulating a research methodology. It is essential to develop measurement methods that will answer the research questions more efficiently and accurately. The initial stages in coming up with the most suitable measures in a research study include conceptualization and operationalization (Bhattacherjee, 2012). Conceptualization entails the process through which the imprecise constructs and the components under the constructs are defined in precise and concrete terms. Some constructs may have several different components. For instance, a construct such as prejudice may have components such as racial prejudice, gender prejudice, or religious prejudice. To measure the construct prejudice correctly, a researcher needs to establish the types of prejudice, levels, and how to define the different levels. Therefore, conceptualization can be regarded as the process of determining what will be included or excluded in measuring the concept of prejudice, as Bhattacherjee (2012) suggests. Whether a concept is unidimensional or multidimensional also determines how a construct is operationalized. Unidimensional constructs have a single underlying dimension and are measured using a single measure. Multidimensional constructs are constructs with two or more components. For instance, the multiple dimensions of prejudice can be measured using different tests or measures.
Operationalization, also the operational definition of the variables, entails outlining how exactly the dimensions of the constructs can be measured. For instance, if the concept, such as socioeconomic status, is under study, it can be operationalized by asking the study participants about their average annual income. Such a question returns figures that act as the measure. Multiple indicators are used to measure social science constructs due to the high level of imprecision and subjectivity inherent in these constructs (Bhattacherjee, 2012). A combination of indicators that represent a given construct is called a variable. A variable may be dependent, independent, or moderate. This depends on the purpose of the study and how the variable is deployed in the study. Each variable may have more than one level, such as gender having male and female levels. A variable such as customer satisfaction may have several levels or attributes, such as “strongly dissatisfied,” “somewhat dissatisfied,” “neutral,” “somewhat satisfied,” and “strongly satisfied.” Attribute values may be qualitative or quantitative. The proposed measures in the current study will have two variables that will yield quantitative data used to inform conclusions.
Independent Variable and Operational Definition
The independent variable in the study will be the number of hours the students sleep per day over the period when the study will be conducted. The variable will be measured by literally recording the number of hours the college students sleep and recording them per day. Also, the participants will be required to conduct their daily activities normally as they would conduct themselves prior to a main test. The study will be conducted for a period of four days preceding the main test. The expected test will be comprehensive, covering a lot of content and requiring students to revise thoroughly. Study participants will refrain from studying for the test any other time before the period the study will be conducted to avoid hours spent earlier studying acting as confounding variables to the study. The independent variable values will be recorded in a simple table as shown below;
|Participants||Days||No. of Hours Slept|
Dependent Variable and Operational Definition
The dependent variable in the study will be the test scores obtained by the subjects in the major test. The participants selected for the study will take the same subjects to facilitate comparison to minimize the impact of confounding. The measures of the variable will be recorded as shown below;
|Participants||Subjects||Test Scores Obtained|
A self-report survey in psychological studies refers to a survey that relies on individual beliefs, behaviors, symptoms, and attitudes to derive conclusions. In this study, respondents will respond to questions about themselves concerning the dependent and independent variables. Self-report data forms a crucial proportion of social science data that informs knowledge and theory. The information provided about the variables under study will guide the researcher in making the conclusions associated with the study. Some of the merits of self-report surveys include that self-report survey data is easier to obtain (Demetriou, Özer, & Essau, 2015). The method is also cheaper compared to other methods and can be used to reach many participants. It saves time compared to a between-subjects experiment since the researcher does not have to study the participants’ behavior over a long period. A self-report survey also allows the researcher to study the dimensions of a variable that could be otherwise difficult to measure. Lastly, self-report surveys also allow the researcher to conduct the study using the most appropriate method, including interviews, questionnaires, or diaries.
Questions for a Dependent Variable and Rating Scale
On a scale of 1-4, to what extent do the sleep patterns affect your test scores? (1=To a very great extent, 2=To a great extent, 3=To some extent, 4=To a very little extent).
Other than the number of hours slept, what are the other three main factors that affect your test scores in an exam? (Factor 1=……, Factor 2=……., Factor 3=………)
Do the test scores for the tests done at the beginning of the exam period vary with the tests done at the end of the exam period?
Questions for an Independent Variable and Rating Scale
On average, how many hours do you normally sleep when revising for major tests? (Less than 4, 4 hours, 5 hours, 6 hours, 7 hours, 8 hours, or more than 8 hours)
Has sleep deprivation affected your academic performance before?
Do you have trouble sleeping, or do you sleep longer hours just before the major tests?
Has sleep deprivation before the exam period ever made you fall asleep during an exam?
The Rationale for the Method in Creating the Measure
A structured questionnaire will be employed to conduct the survey in this study. A paper questionnaire will be administered to the participants who are accessible, while email questionnaires will be administered to the unreachable participants. A 4-point Likert Scale can be used for the first question for the dependent variable. The question aims to investigate the extent to which the number of hours college students sleep affects the students’ test scores. This is useful to establish whether the independent variable being measured significantly affects the dependent variable among the participants. The question favors a 4-point Likert Scale since the extent can be best measured using the scale. The second question intends to investigate the other three factors that could be affecting the test score other than the sleep hours to determine the most significant confounding variables in the study. According to Schames et al. (2019), it is important to account for the effect of confounding factors in a study to determine how other factors outside the independent variables affect the dependent variable. The third question under the dependent variable will measure how performance in the tests done at the beginning of an exam period differs from tests at the end of an exam period. As a result, this will enable the researcher to establish whether the students’ behavior just before the exam affects their performance or not.
Under the independent variable, the first question is a scale that measures the average number of hours the participants sleep when revising for their tests. Notably, this will be crucial in determining whether sleep deprivation is a significant variation from the number of hours the students usually sleep before the exam period. The second question is a qualitative question that intends to investigate whether the students have experienced sleep deprivation before and whether it significantly impacted their performance. The third question aims to understand whether students have trouble sleeping or sleep for longer hours during major tests. This offers insight into whether an exam could have an impact on the student’s sleep patterns. In a study by Guadiana and Okashima (2021), feelings associated with exams can affect sleeping patterns among college students. Therefore, it is important to find out whether the exams could influence the number of hours the students sleep. Finally, the fourth question measures the direct impact of sleep deprivation on the students by investigating student behavior in an exam hall. Therefore, the measures provide sufficient information for the study.
In psychological studies, between-subjects experiments are among the most common study designs to inform knowledge by studying human behavior. Primarily, in these experimental studies, participants are assigned randomly to conditions whose impact on the participants is the core interest of the study (Budiu, 2018). The most basic levels of the approach require a researcher to have a treatment condition and a control condition. The dependent variable is measured for each treatment condition the participants are subjected. Subsequently, the scores measured under each condition are compared across the groups to determine the impact. The extraneous variables, such as the ability of the students to grasp content during class time, will be controlled. The between-subjects study contrasts the within-subjects study, whereby the same participants are subjected to the same conditions to test the impact of such conditions on these subjects.
A between-subjects experiment will be conducted in the current study by randomly assigning students to the two treatment conditions. One group of students will be subjected to sleep deprivation, while another group will be under the normal sleep hours routine. The group that will be deprived of sleep is the treatment group, while the group under the normal sleep pattern is the control group. Most importantly, according to the ethical guidelines of a research study, it is crucial to ensure that the participants willingly and voluntarily accept to participate in the experimental study. The aims and objectives of the study will be explained to these participants before the study (informed consent). The participants subjected to sleep deprivation will be informed to avoid sleeping during any other time of the day as this would interfere with the intended impacts of sleep deprivation; this is significant to prevent biasedness in the study.
Questions/Observation Points for an Independent Variable and Rating Scale
On a scale of 1-4, how likely are the students deprived of sleep to doze off while studying or doing the exam compared to students not deprived of sleep? (1= Very Likely, 2=Likely, 3=Equally Likely, 4=Less Likely).
Are there difficulties performing other activities other than studying due to sleep deprivation among the two groups?
Is there a significant difference in the number of hours the students in both groups can concentrate on studying?
Questions/Observation Points for a Dependent Variable and Rating Scale
Comparing the two groups, which group attains the highest average test score?
Is there a significant difference between the test scores for tests done at the beginning of the exam period and toward the end of the exam period for the two groups?
Are there significant differences in test scores for the two groups for tests done in the periods prior to the experiment and tests after the experiment?
On a scale of 1-4, how are test scores from the two groups related to the study hours? (1=Very Strong Relationship, 2= Strong Relationship, 3=Moderate Relationship, 4= Weak Relationship, 5= No Relationship).
The Rationale for the Method in Creating the Measure
The Between-subjects was the most appropriate experimental approach for the current case study due to the nature of the independent factor. This is because the researcher can be certain that the differences between the groups result from the different treatment conditions the study participants are subjected to and not the other treatments that may occur when the same subjects are subjected to more than one treatment condition. In this experiment, subjecting research participants to more than one treatment condition would neutralize the impact of the sleep deprivation condition. Ideally, this would mean the same students deprived of sleep would be subjected to normal sleeping hours, introducing carryover effects or contrast effects, as Charness, Gneezy, and Kuhn (2012) point out.
Notably, the first observation under the independent variable measures the impacts of sleep deprivation on the students’ normal activities. The second question also investigates whether sleep deprivation limits the participation of students in other activities other than studying. These activities include co-curricular and other developmental activities. The third observation aims at determining whether sleep deprivation affects the students’ concentration. The length of concentration between the two groups is compared to determine the impact of the conditions.
In between-subjects measurement, Allen (2017) suggests that it is vital to establish whether there is a significant impact of the treatment conditions on the treatment group compared to the control group before concluding that the condition significantly affects the dependent factor. The first question under the dependent variable aims to investigate whether the conditions affect their test score. This is the major impact of experimentation. The second question aims to identify whether the test scores for the tests done at the beginning of the exam period are significantly different from test scores for tests done towards the end of the exam period. The impact of the treatment condition is expected to have a higher impact at the beginning of the exam period since the students are not subjected to the conditions once the exam period starts. Subsequently, this reduces the impact of the condition towards the end of the exam period. The third question aims to identify significant differences in test scores for the tests done before the study and the tests after being subjected to the conditions in the study. Lastly, the fourth question examines the relationship between the test scores and sleep patterns for both groups. These measures will provide the required information to draw inferences.
Allen, M. (2017). Between-Subjects Design. The SAGE Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods. doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781483381411.n36
American Sleep Association (ASA) (2021). Sleep Deprivation Effects on the Brain. Retrieved from https://www.sleepassociation.org/sleep-resources/sleep-deprivation-effects-on-the-brain/
Bhattacherjee, A. (2012). Social Science Research: Principles, Methods, and Practice (2nd Ed.) Anol Bhattacherjee. ISBN:1475146124, 9781475146127.
Budiu, R. (2018). Between-Subjects vs. Within-Subjects Study Design. Retrieved from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/between-within-subjects/
Charness, G., Gneezy, U., & Kuhn, M.A. (2012). Experimental methods: Between-subject and within-subject design. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 81, 1-8.
Demetriou, C., Özer, B., & Essau, C. (2015). Self‐Report Questionnaires. In book: The Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology 10.1002/9781118625392.wbecp507.
Guadiana, N., & Okashima, T. L. (2021). The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on College Students. Nursing | Senior Theses. 30. https://doi.org/10.33015/dominican.edu/2021.NURS.ST.09
Schames, K. R. et al. (2019). Controlling for Response Biases in Self-Report Scales: Forced-Choice vs. Psychometric Modeling of Likert Items. Frontiers in Psychology. VOLUME=10. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02309
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As a researcher, it is critical to translate observations into meaningful data that will yield meaningful interpretations. In this assignment, you will create a series of data collection instruments. For each of the methodologies listed, you will develop a measure and explain your decision to create the measure.
Select one independent variable and one dependent variable or outcome that you would like to measure (e.g., academic success, life satisfaction, consumer behavior, crime, personality, etc). Next, create an operational definition for the variables of interest. Then, develop an appropriate measure of the independent and dependent variable for both a self-report survey and a between-subjects experiment. The methods you design should focus on quantifying observations. For the independent and dependent variables, please include a rating scale that will be used to rate the participant’s responses.
Independent variable and operational definition
Dependent variable and operational definition
Minimum of 3 questions for a dependent variable and rating scale
Minimum of 3 questions for an independent variable and rating scale
Rationale for your method in creating the measure (250-300 words, 2 academic sources)
4. Between subjects experiment
Minimum of 3 questions or observation points for an independent variable and rating scale
Minimum of 3 questions or observation points for a dependent variable and rating scale
Rationale for your method in creating the measure (250-300 words, 2 academic sources)
Note: This assignment is purely hypothetical and should not involve direct interaction with participants. Keep in mind:
Any new research regardless of size or scope MUST go through the IRB review and approval process BEFORE conducting any interviews or solicitation for the study. This is not only a university policy but a federally mandated requirement. Failure to do so can invalidate the research and open the researcher up to liability for any damages charged as a result. If in doubt, please reach out to your instructor, program director, or librarian. More information can be found at the link below.
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