How to Write a Hypothesis
The solution of a scientific problem never begins directly with experiment. This procedure is preceded by a very important stage associated with the hypothesis. The scientific hypothesis is a statement containing an assumption about the solution of the problem faced by the researcher. Basically, the hypothesis is the main idea of the solution.
Part 1. Theoretical background
In formulating the hypothesis, you build an assumption about how you intend to achieve the stated goal of the study. There are different types of scientific hypotheses. Some of them are:
- scientific hypothesis (theoretically grounded prediction);
- empirical hypothesis (relationship between the impact and the result, if …, then …);
- working hypothesis (the initial plan that we are going to do this and that);
- null hypothesis (I do something, but I do not know what will happen), etc.
Hypotheses are descriptive and explanatory.
In the descriptive hypothesis, the relationship between cause and effect is described, while the conditions, factors dictating the mandatory nature of the investigation are not disclosed. This hypothesis does not have the property of predictability.
In the explanatory hypothesis, conditions and factors are disclosed, under which observance will necessarily occur. This hypothesis is of a prognostic nature.
Properties of the scientific hypothesis.
- The hypothesis must correspond to meaningful facts.
- The hypothesis must be empirically verifiable.
- The hypothesis must be consistent with existing reliable knowledge.
- The hypothesis should be fundamentally refuted.
Testing the hypothesis:
- with the help of theoretical justification;
- on the basis of advanced scientific experience;
Part 2. Preparation to writing hypothesis
There are several steps you need to make before to proceed to writing a hypothesis:
- Before engaging in the formulation of the hypothesis, carefully study the literature on the problem. Writing a hypothesis assumes that you already know the material, and therefore – can make assumptions about what processes will be observed in this or that case.
- Pay attention to those works on your problem, which are of research character: they already have formulated hypotheses. You can either take a prepared hypothesis or adapt it to your work.
- Note that there can be two hypotheses in the study, one of which is proved, and the second is refuted (thus, two variants of the dynamics of the situation are taken into account).
EXAMPLES OF HYPOTHESIS
It is planned to study the level of anxiety of schoolchildren of a particular class. In this case, we can formulate the hypothesis as follows:
- V1: It can not refute that the level of anxiety of students does not depend on their current academic performance.
- V2: The level of anxiety in students with excellent and good performance is higher than in students with low and satisfactory performance.
- The formulation of the hypothesis necessarily implies the need to apply methods of mathematical analysis, otherwise research can not claim the scientific nature of the results.
- At the end of the study, the results of qualitative and quantitative analysis are summarized, conclusions are drawn about the statistical significance of the hypothesis.
Part 3. Formulating your hypothesis
Usually the hypothesis is formulated after the definition of the object, subject and the purpose of the research, although the order may be different. A comprehensive study of these components inevitably leads to the birth of a hypothesis.
Hypothesis is an assumption about how to solve the problem. It is a form of creative search for solving the problem. Pulling out the hypothesis, the researcher makes an assumption about how, under what conditions the research problem and the goal of work will be successfully implemented. The hypothesis is formulated as an expanded, unobvious assumption, in which the model, future methodology, technology, system of measures, mechanism of that innovation, thanks to which it is expected to achieve high results or new results, are most fully described. The hypothesis is usually given in studies involving an experiment aimed at confirming the hypothesis. In studies of a historical nature, the hypothesis, as a rule, is not provided.
The hypothesis should be reasonable, have certain prerequisites, a sufficient field of application and be measurable. Since the hypothesis is a statement subject to proof or refutation, one of the typical ways of formulate it, is in the form of the following statement: “If …, then …, since …”.
The first part of the sentence “If…” contains the formulation of the conditions under which the researcher intends to solve the task posed. The second part “then…” shows the expected positive results. The third part “since…” concludes a theoretical substantiation of the reason why the conditions created in the first part determine the results announced in the second part.
See the examples of the following hypotheses:
Hypothesis! If the future musician wants to become a good performer, really understand the music and its laws, then such a pupil should:
- be able to count;
- understand what a fraction is;
- be able to perform actions with fractions;
- know the average values and be able to apply this knowledge;
- independently find the connection between the concepts of music and mathematics;
- be able to apply mathematical knowledge in teaching music, even if he is more interested in music as art, since it is the knowledge of mathematics, the understanding of its laws that allows you to better understand other subjects and in the future become, for example, a good musician.
Hypothesis! If numbers 7 and 13 have a mystical, supernatural, mysterious meaning, then statistical studies will have to reveal them, since it is the statistical data and their correct processing that will show the presence or absence of correlation between numbers and positive or negative events occurring on these numbers.
The hypothesis can relate not only to the problem, but also to the goal. Therefore, there are two possible logics:
- The purpose of the study is to solve the problem (indicate it), then the hypothesis is the assumption of the method of achieving the goal.
For example: the purpose of the study is to solve the problem (complete formulation). Hypothesis – the purpose of the study (full wording) will be achieved if: (all conditions are listed).
- Hypothesis – the assumption of a way of solving the problem, then the goal of the investigation is the proof of the hypothesis.
For example, a hypothesis – an identified problem (full wording) will be resolved if: (all conditions are listed). The aim of the research is to prove the formulated hypothesis.
Regardless of the chosen logic, the formulation of the hypothesis should naturally lead to the formulation of problems.
Part 4. Avoid possible mistakes in formulating hypothesis
To avoid possible mistakes in the formulation of hypotheses, the following approaches should be followed:
- The hypothesis should be formulated in a clear literate language, corresponding to the subject of research. The need for strict compliance with this requirement is due to the fact that one problem can be studied within different disciplines. Therefore, scientists frequently make attempts to put forward hypotheses in the study of certain objects in the language of sciences, which have quite another meaning as the subject of research. For example, teachers, studying the performance of athletes and ways to increase it, often try to find an answer to the question posed in the biomechanical mechanisms of this phenomenon. However, the hypothesis that the performance of an athlete, let’s say a cyclist, depends on a certain combination of aerobic and anaerobic mechanisms of energy supply, looks at least incorrect, as the pedagogical phenomenon is discussed in the language of biology. Moreover, biochemists themselves do not know a reliable answer to this question.
- The hypothesis must either be grounded by previous knowledge, flow from them, or, in case of complete independence, at least not contradict it. The scientific idea, if it is true, does not appear from scratch. No wonder one of the aphorisms attributed to I. Newton sounds like this: “He saw far only because he stood on the mighty shoulders of his predecessors”. This emphasizes the continuity of generations in scientific activity. This requirement is easily met, if after a clear statement of the problem, the researcher will seriously work with the literature on the topic under consideration. In general, it should be noted that reading for the future is not very effective. Only when the problem is already in researcher’s thoughts, one can expect the benefit of working with literature, and the hypothesis will not be divorced from already accumulated knowledge. Most often this happens when you transfer the regularities found in one specific problem and transfer it to a more general one. This is done by a hypothetical assumption based on the principle of analogy.
- Hypothesis can perform the functions of protecting other hypotheses in the face of new experiences and by old knowledge. For example, in the theory and methodology of physical education, it is considered that the physical training of athletes includes several sections defined by the tasks of improving basic physical qualities, such as speed, strength, endurance, flexibility and dexterity. In this regard, the hypothesis is put forward that the level of sports results in sports with the manifestation of certain physical qualities depend on the level of their development in a particular athlete. Thus, the results in cyclic species (long distances) determine the athlete’s endurance level, in the rod, the strength indicator, and so on. It turned out that athletes with equally high manifestations of these or other physical qualities, nevertheless show not equal sports results. So, the sports results of the stayer do not always depend on the level of their endurance, the results of weightlifters on strength, etc. In order to justify the initial theoretical premise, a protective hypothesis was put forward on the interrelation of physical qualities. It was the consequence of this step that led to the introduction the concepts “speed-strength qualities”, “speed and power endurance”, “explosive power”, etc. into the scientific vocabulary.
- The hypothesis must be formulated so that the truth of that hypothesis is not obvious. For example, it is known from individual studies and practical experience that the junior school age (seven years) is favorable for the development of coordination abilities. Thus, the assumption that “pedagogical influences aimed at the development of these abilities have the greatest effect if they are purposefully applied at this age” can serve as a general hypothesis for research related to the development of methods for development coordination abilities. However, this will not be sufficient to define a working hypothesis, since there is not always a need for its allocation in general. In a working hypothesis, it is useful to determine those provisions that can raise doubts, need proof and defense. Therefore, the working hypothesis in a separate case may look like this: “It is assumed that the application of a standard training program based on the principles of health training will qualitatively improve the level of coordination abilities of children of seven years” – in this case the effectiveness of the method developed by the researcher is checked.
Part 5. Templates of hypothesis formulation
Ultimately, the hypothesis precedes both the solution of the problem as a whole, and each problem separately. The hypothesis is refined, supplemented or changed in the process of research.
In the scientific and methodological literature, the following templates of hypotheses are proposed:
- Something affects something in the event when…
- It is assumed that the formation of something becomes effective under certain conditions.
- Something will be successful if …
- It is assumed that the use of something will increase the level of something.
Thus, the existence of a hypothesis is an important condition for scientific research. Hypothesis is a link between present and future of knowledge, it is a paving stone of bridge of science.
The main approaches in coming up with the purpose, tasks and hypothesis of the work of students can be:
- comparison of the problem with a question, a goal – with a short answer to a question-problem, problem – with a description of the characteristics of the goal, a hypothesis – with the main idea of solving the problem;
- appropriate use, firstly, of the templates for formulating goals and hypotheses, and secondly, of the set of verbs for setting tasks;
- when formulating research tasks, they should not be replaced by the formulations of stages and methods of research;
- practical exercise of students in the formulation of the goal, objectives and working hypothesis of the study.