Students at Green Valley Community College reported feeling bored and disconnected from the curriculum at the school due to a lack of technology and a lack of skills on the part of teachers when it comes to actually teaching and presenting material. Due to a belief in the correlation between student opinion and the increased dropout rates experienced at the school, the president authorized additional funds for teacher development. When completing educational research, it is first necessary to frame the research, defining the topic, identifying the problem statement, setting forth the research question(s), and identifying several hypotheses for testing (Creswell, 2012; Farber, 2006).

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Tasked with determining the effectiveness of the training, the proposed research topic to explore the matter is the effectiveness of professional development for teachers and the effects of the completion of those courses on student interest. The statement of the problem would state something to the effect of, “One of the issues faced by Green Valley Community College is a lack of interest in the current curriculum, due in part to the skillset of teachers presenting the material. To address this problem, additional professional development has been mandated, but there is some question regarding the effectiveness of those programs and, of the programs completed by teachers, which were the most effective.”

The research question is, perhaps, one of the most definitive aspects of the study design, for while the topic identifies what is to be explored, broadly, and the problem statement narrows that focus, the research question specifically identifies what is going to be explored (Farber, 2006; Creswell, 2012). In this case, the research question shows that the study will be quantitative in nature for the proposed scenario (Farber, 2006; Creswell, 2012). The research question that such a study would seek to address would be:
Following the completion of the professional development programs, did student interest increase in the classes that were taught by professors who went through professional development sessions?
The independent variables would consist of the professional development programs used by the school, while the dependent variable would be levels of student interest. The dependent variable would be tracked based on the number of student responses received at the time of course completion, rating different aspects of the course, the curriculum, the presentation of information, et cetera, as is currently utilized in end of course surveys. The mediating variable present within the study would be what the teachers are able to learn from the completion of the professional development programs as well as what they apply within the classroom setting.