Theory: The Missing Link in Successful Student Scholarship
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Since 1998, the capstone papers of students at Texas State University have won the Pi Alpha Alpha masters student paper award five times. The papers are so successful because students have mastered the art of building and using intermediate theory or conceptual frameworks. This paper introduces the notion of micro-conceptual frameworks and examines how students use them to connect all aspects of empirical inquiry (e.g., problem definition, purpose, literature review, methodology, data collection, and analysis). These conceptual frameworks act like a map that gives coherence to the enterprise. They are a critical "missing link" in successful student empirical research.