Assignment 4: Examining Conceptual Frameworks

Assignment 4: Examining Conceptual Frameworks

Conceptual Frameworks

The application of theory in traditional theoretical research is to understand, explain, and predict phenomena (Swanson, 2013). In applied research, the application of theory in problem-solving focuses on how theory in conjunction with practice (applied action) and procedures (functional approach) frames vision, thinking, and action toward problem resolution. The inclusion of theory in a conceptual framework is not focused on the validation or devaluation of applied theories. A concise way of viewing the conceptual framework is a list of understood fact-based conditions that present the researcher’s prescribed thinking for solving the identified problem. These conditions provide a methodological rationale of interrelated ideas and approaches for beginning, executing, and defining the outcome of problem-resolution efforts (Leshem & Trafford, 2007).

The terms conceptual framework and theoretical framework are often and erroneously used interchangeably (Grant & Osanloo, 2014). A theory does not or cannot be expected to explain all phenomenal conditions, and, likewise, a conceptual framework is not a random identification of disparate ideas meant to encase a problem. Instead, it is a means of identifying and constructing for the researcher and reader alike an epistemological mindset and a functional worldview approach to the identified problem.

Understanding Conceptual Frameworks
What is it?

· Variables, concepts, theories, and/or parts of other existing frameworks

· A conceptual framework should include concepts applicable to the field of study. These can be in the field or neighboring fields as long as important details are captured and the framework is relevant to the problem.

· Align to problem and purpose (similar ideas and concepts should be presented here as the problem and purpose)

What Does it Do?

· Explains the way key concepts will come together to inform the problem

· Gives the study direction/parameters

· Helps the researcher organize ideas and clarify concepts

· Introduces your research and how it will advance your field of practice

What Should Be In It?

Variables, concepts, theories, and/or parts of other existing frameworks

A conceptual framework should include concepts applicable to the field of study. These can be in the field or neighboring fields as long as important details are captured and the framework is relevant to the problem.

Align to problem and purpose (similar ideas and concepts should be presented here as the problem and purpose)

How to Develop a Conceptual Framework
Step 1: With a topic in mind, go to the body of literature and start identifying the key concepts used by other studies. Figure out what’s been done by other researchers, and what needs to be done (either find a specific call to action outlined in the literature or make sure your proposed problem has yet to be studied in your specific setting). Use what you find needs to be done to either support a pre-identified problem or craft a general problem for study. Only rely on scholarly sources for this part of your research.

Step 2: Begin to pull out variables, concepts, theories, and existing frameworks explained in the relevant literature.

Step 3: You may find a conceptual framework that already fits your problem (i.e. Astin’s student involvement model for a study on student involvement in an online orientation) or you may need to develop your own framework if there is not one that connects the concepts, theories, and frameworks most salient to your study.

Step 4: If you’re building a framework, start thinking about how some of those variables, concepts, theories, and facets of existing frameworks come together to shape your problem. The problem could be a situational condition that requires a scholar-practitioner approach, the result of a practical need, or an opportunity to further an applicational study, project, or research. Remember, if the answer to your specific problem exists, you don’t need to conduct the study.

Step 5: Create a graphic representation of your framework (this part is optional, but often helps readers understand the flow of your research.) Even if you do a graphic, first write out how the variables could influence your dissertation or capstone and introduce your methodology. Remember to use APA formatting in separating the sections of your framework to create a clear understanding of the framework for your reader.


Grant, C., & Osanloo, A. (2014). Understanding, selecting, and integrating a theoretical framework in dissertation research: Creating the blueprint for your “house.” Administrative Issues Journal: Connecting Education, Practice, and Research, 4(2), 12–26.

Imenda, S. (2014). Is there a conceptual difference between theoretical and conceptual frameworks? Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi/Journal of Social Sciences, 38(2), 185.

Leshem, S., & Trafford, V. (2007). Overlooking the conceptual framework. Innovations in Education & Teaching International, 44(1), 93–105.

Swanson, R. (2013). Theory building in applied disciplines. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.


Conceptual frameworks are purposeful cultivation of related concepts, variables, and/ or theories to support a researcher’s problem and purpose. This framework needs to align with the research questions and methodology as well. One way to show this framework is with a visualization; however, a narrative is needed as well to explain the interconnectedness of all the pieces. In this two-part assignment, you will build a visualization of your conceptual framework and then explain in a narrative how each part interacts and supports your problem and purpose.

Part 1:
Often, conceptual frameworks are shown as a visual. For this assignment, use Canva to diagram a potential conceptual framework for your topic of interest. Use the 5-steps in “How to Develop a Conceptual Framework” to identify key concepts, find literature on these concepts, decide how they relate, and choose an existing conceptual framework or build a new one. Portray this framework in a clearly labeled graphic.

See links below to regarding “How to Develop a Conceptual Framework.”

Using a flow chart to present it
A flow chart presenting conceptual framework

Using a tree diagram to present it
Using tree diagram to present a conceptual framework

Similarly, in this tree diagram, it is well understood that customers’ behaviour changes with respect to various factors like experiences, values, lifestyle, or product expectations in terms of price, quality, information etc. Therefore this indicates that there are two possible areas for analyzing a customer’s behaviour and thus two hypotheses can be constructed out of this. One is related to consumer behaviour with respect to experiences, values, lifestyle etc while the other can be based on the product’s expectation.

A conceptual framework is essential to bring focus to the content and also acts as a link between literature, methodology, and results.

In this flow chart, it is evident that academic staff job satisfaction is associated with pay and growth resources, work-family conflict stressors, work relationship stressors, and work-role stressors. Therefore the dependent variable here is academic staff job satisfaction while the rest are independent variables. A suitable correlation or regression test can be applied knowing this representation.

A diagram of a diagram Description automatically generated

Note: If you are doing qualitative research, make sure your framework doesn’t include arrow lines in your graphic, which could imply causal or correlational linkages.

Part 2:
Write a 2-age narrative examining how each part of the conceptual framework interacts with one another and how each part supports your problem and purpose. Cite relevant sources.

Length: 1 labeled graphic, along with a 2-page narrative

References: Include a minimum of 6 scholarly references.

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