Child Care and Early Education Research Connections

Skip to main content

The research glossary defines terms used in conducting social science and policy research, for example those describing methods, measurements, statistical procedures, and other aspects of research; the child care glossary defines terms used to describe aspects of child care and early education practice and policy.

Face Validity
The extent to which a survey or a test appears to actually measure what the researcher claims it measures. For example, a researcher may create survey questions that s/he claims measure gender role attitudes. To have face validity, other researchers who read the survey questions must also agree that the questions do appear to measure gender role attitudes.
Factor Analysis
A form of multivariate analysis that includes a large number of variables or objects and aims to identify a smaller number of factors that are more understandable. It is a way of identifying patterns in the data and overlap in the patterns. There are two basic types: exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis. Definitions of the two types can be found elsewhere in the glossary.
Field Experiments
An experimental study that is not conducted in a laboratory, but instead in real-life settings such as early childhood classrooms and schools. Field experiments, like lab experiments, generally randomize subjects (or other units such as classrooms or schools) into treatment and control groups and compare outcomes between these groups. For example, to evaluate the effectiveness of a new math curriculum, a sample of 4-year-old classrooms may be randomly assigned to one of two groups: (1) classrooms that will use the new curriculum (treatment) and (2) classrooms that will continue to use the old curriculum.
Field Notes
A text document that detail behaviors, conversations, or setting characteristics as recorded by a qualitative researcher. Field notes are the principle form of data gathered from direct observation and participant observation.
Field Research
Research conducted where research subjects live or where the activities of interest take place.
Field Work
Observing human behavior or interviewing individuals within their own communities. Field work is generally used to collect qualitative data. It often involves long-term relocation of researchers to the community under study. Data collection generally takes place over an extended period of time. The term is also used more broadly to describe the tasks performed by members of a research team in schools, early childhood programs, and communities. This might include: working with school and program staff to select samples of classes and children; conducting in-person interviews with teachers and other program staff and children's parents; and administering standardized assessments to the children.
Fixed Effects Regression
Regression techniques that can be used to eliminate biases associated with the omission of unmeasured characteristics. Biases are eliminated by including an individual-specific intercept term for all cases.
The lowest limit of performance that can be assessed or measured by an instrument or process. Individuals who perform near to or below this lower limit are said to have reached the floor, and the assessment may not be providing a valid estimate of their performance levels.
Focus Group
An interview conducted with a small group of people, all at one time, to explore ideas on a particular topic. The goal of a focus group is to uncover additional information through participants' exchange of ideas.
The prediction of the size of a future quantity (e.g., unemployment rate next year).