Intermediate Theory: The Missing Link to Successful Student Scholarship
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Since 1998, five Texas State University students' capstone papers have won the Pi Alpha Alpha master's student paper award. This success rate is attributed to students' mastery of the art of building and using intermediate theory or conceptual frameworks in the early states of the Applied Research Project. This article introduces the notion of micro-conceptual frameworks and explains how students use them to connect all aspects of empirical inquiry--problem definition, purpose, literature review, methodology, data collection, and analysis. These conceptual frameworks act like maps that give coherence to the enterprise, and they are a critical missing link in successful student empirical research.