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Title: Distinguishing between Theory, Theoretical Framework, and Conceptual Framework: A Systematic Review of Lessons from the Field
Contributor(s): Kivunja, Charles  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2018
Open Access: Yes
DOI: 10.5430/ijhe.v7n6p44Open Access Link
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Abstract: Across many years of teaching Research Methods and assessing many applications for admission into higher degree studies which require an understanding of theories, principles, strategies and skills needed to complete a higher degree such as a Masters or a PhD, one of the things I have found problematic for many students is the inability to articulate differences between theory, theoretical framework and a conceptual framework for a proposed research project. This paper uses experiential methodology to draw upon my experience in practice, and systematic literature review methodology to draw upon supporting scholarly literature by leaders in the field, to contribute to existing knowledge on the meaning of each of these concepts, and more importantly to distinguish between them in a study of Research Methods, and in particular as they relate to designing a research proposal and a thesis for a higher degree. The primary aim is to help the reader develop a firm grasp of the meaning of these concepts and how they should be used in academic research discourses. The review answers five questions. 1. What does each of these terms mean? 2. When and how should each be used? 3. What purposes does a theoretical framework serve? 4. How do you develop a theoretical framework for your research proposal or thesis? 5. What does a good theoretical framework look like?
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: International Journal of Higher Education, 7(6), p. 44-53
Publisher: Sciedu Press
Place of Publication: Canada
ISSN: 1927-6044
Field of Research (FoR) 2008: 130303 Education Assessment and Evaluation
130103 Higher Education
130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development
Field of Research (FoR) 2020: 390402 Education assessment and evaluation
390303 Higher education
390102 Curriculum and pedagogy theory and development
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 930101 Learner and Learning Achievement
930102 Learner and Learning Processes
930103 Learner Development
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: undefined
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Education

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