How can I write a hypothesis about teen pregnancies and completing high school?

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A hypothesis is a proposition which can be proven or disproven by examination of data. In other words, writing a hypothesis means making a statement that is in doubt, but in a sort of doubt subject to clear empirical verification. Such a hypothesis should be followed by a clear statement of what sort of data would prove or disprove it and what methods should be used to collect that data. It should examine the graduation rates of similar groups of teens, making sure samples are equivalent in ethnicity, religion, income, and other demographic factors, so that one can isolate pregnancy as a causative factor.

Since it is quite widely established that teenagers who get pregnant have significantly lower graduation rates than those who do not get pregnant, a student writing on this topic might want to construct a more narrow hypothesis to investigate some aspect of the issue. For example, one might construct a hypothesis concerning factors that lead some pregnant teens to graduate and some not to graduate.

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Yes, it is possible to construct a hypothesis regarding teen pregnancies and related impact on high school completion. The hypothesis exists to state a proposed idea or explanation that can then be tested through study, observation, research, or experimentation. In this example, you will need to determine whether you are proposing that there is indeed a correlation between teen pregnancy and high school completion, or if there is no correlation between teen pregnancy and high school completion. You may also want to narrow your focus to a specific age range, geographic location etc, to limit the number of factors. For example, you may find that statistics on the correlation between teen pregnancy and high school completion are affected by a number of factors, such as at what age the teen became pregnant, if the teen lived in a financially stable household, etc.

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A hypothesis is a statement regarding a possible outcome or relationship that can be substantiated by using empirical evidence. An important initial step is establishing an appropriate scale. Given that there are millions of high school students, additional parameters are needed. Will you examine the impact only on pregnant girls or will you consider the fathers as well? Are you concerned with pregnancy at all stages, only with those carried to full term, or those ended through miscarriage or abortion? What is your time frame—years, decades?

Another set of factors to consider is the available evidence. What studies will you consult to support the position you take? Available data will likely range from a school district up to national level.

Once these variables are selected, it will be possible to identify and consult appropriate studies. The evidence will help you decide if a hypothesis is positively or negatively supported. For example: In California, girls who become pregnant are more likely to finish school if this occurs in their senior year.

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A hypothesis is the stated relationship between variables and is the first step in testing the validity of a theory.  It is based on observations made regarding the independent and dependent variables.  The independent variable is the behavior that may be manipulated or changed.  The independent variable affects the dependent variable.  In this example, your independent variable would be whether or not a teen is pregnant.  The dependent variable is the resulting behavior of the independent variable, in this case, whether or not a teen completes high school.  A hypothesis must be testable and measurable.  “Teen pregnancy increases the high school completion rate of teenagers” or “Teen pregnancy decreases the high school completion rate of teenagers” would both work as a hypothesis for this study.  When testing a theory, you would also want to include a null hypothesis.  A null hypothesis shows that there is no significant relationship between the variables.  A null hypothesis for this study could state “Teen pregnancies result in no significant difference in the high school completion rate of teens.”

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