Null and Alternative Hypotheses

Converting research questions to hypothesis is a simple task. Take the questions and make it a positive statement that says a relationship exists (correlation studies) or a difference exists between the groups (experiment study) and you have the alternative hypothesis. Write the statement such that a relationship does not exist or a difference does not exist and you have the null hypothesis. You can reverse the process if you have a hypothesis and wish to write a research question.

When you are comparing two groups, the groups are the independent variable. When you are testing whether something affects something else, the cause is the independent variable. The independent variable is the one you manipulate.

Teachers given higher pay will have more positive attitudes toward children than teachers given lower pay. The first step is to ask yourself "Are there two or more groups being compared?" The answer is "Yes." What are the groups? Teachers who are given higher pay and teachers who are given lower pay. The independent variable is teacher pay. The dependent variable (the outcome) is attitude towards school.

You could also approach is another way. "Is something causing something else?" The answer is "Yes."  What is causing what? Teacher pay is causing attitude towards school. Therefore, teacher pay is the independent variable (cause) and attitude towards school is the dependent variable (outcome).

Del Siegle, Ph.D.
Neag School of Education - University of Connecticut
del.siegle@uconn.edu

www.delsiegle.com