Grand theory can include key theoretical underpinnings that help shape a researchers thinking about the world and influence the way they approach research and investigating the world. These can sometime be implicit, not explicit, to the researchers immediate study. For example, socio-cultural theory as an underpinning theoretical perspective of how one views and understands relationships within a system can serve as a guiding perspective of one’s study into the intersections and transactions between various elements of a system and the impact of those interactions on learning.
A substantive theory, then, would be a theory which a researcher would use as a focal or analytical lens to make sense of particular phenomenon within a study. Within the socio-cultural context of a technology integration professional development program in the college of education at a university (grand theory), the development of technological pedagogical and content knowledge (substantive theory) among faculty members can serve as a measure of successful technology integration.