Quantitative and qualitative research in education

Abstract. By documentation and content analysis, this paper examines the basic characteristics of quantitative and qualitative research paradigms used in education. This report also briefly presents a comparison between two of these paradigms in terms of assumption, purpose, approach, research role, procedure and data collection methods.

pdf8 trang | Chia sẻ: thanhle95 | Lượt xem: 76 | Lượt tải: 0download
Bạn đang xem nội dung tài liệu Quantitative and qualitative research in education, để tải tài liệu về máy bạn click vào nút DOWNLOAD ở trên
JOURNAL OF SCIENCE OF HNUE 2011, Vol. 56, N◦. 1, pp. 149-156 QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE RESEARCH IN EDUCATION Pham Thi Ben Hanoi National University of Education E-mail: phamben2002@gmail.com Abstract. By documentation and content analysis, this paper examines the basic characteristics of quantitative and qualitative research paradigms used in education. This report also briefly presents a comparison between two of these paradigms in terms of assumption, purpose, approach, research role, procedure and data collection methods. Keywords: Quantitative, qualitative, educational research methods 1. Introduction Although education is called applied science [3;69], the paradigms used and the aims of research in education are the same as those of research in science gen- erally. There are five objectives of educational research: exploration which is done when researchers are trying to generate ideas about something; description is done to describe the characteristics of something or some phenomenon; explanation to show how and why a phenomenon operates as it does; prediction objective accu- rate predictions and the last objective is influence which involves the application of research results to impact the world to demonstrate [1]. Moreover, education is a practical activity. The purpose of which is to change those being educated in some desirable ways so that educational research can simply transform educational problems into a series of theoretical problems which seriously distorts the purpose of the whole enterprise. There are three currently major re- search paradigms in education (and in the social and behavioral sciences): quanti- tative, qualitative, and mixed research [1]. This report focuses on two paradigms in education which are discussed widely in the literature and have roots in 20th-century philosophical thinking [4;1]: quantitative and qualitative paradigms. Qualitative and quantitative so-called polar opposites paradigms [2] have philo- sophical roots in the naturalistic and the positivistic philosophies, respectively. Qualitative research approaches reflect some sort of individual phenomelogical per- spective while quantitative tend to emphasise that there is a common reality on which people can agree. Qualitative research compares the characteristics of one 149 Pham Thi Ben educational entity with those of another entity, with no concern for amounts or frequencies of the characteristics being studied [6;5]. Quantitative research, on the other hand, compares the amounts or frequencies of the characteristics that are being investigated. Both quantitative and qualitative paradigms are used in educa- tion research to investigate, explore and in the end to sum up with the findings to increase the educational quality and science. 2. Content 2.1. Quantitative research in education Quantitative is termed the traditional, the positivist, the experimental, or the empiricist paradigm. The quantitative thinking comes from an empiricist tradi- tion established by such authorities as Comte, Mill, Durkheim, Newton, and Locke [4]. Quantitative paradigm is an inquiry into a social or human problem, based on testing a theory composed of variables, measured with numbers, and analyzed with statistical procedures, in order to determine whether the predictive generaliza- tions of theory hold true [7;2]. Quantitative research is consistent with quantitative papradigm and it accumulates data that is usually reducible to numerical form or can be subject to statistical testing. Therefore, mathematics and more specifically statistics play an important part in the shaping of quantitative view of science. The words or behaviour patterns or documents are always interpreted through quantita- tive or statistical analysis to their mathematical significance as apposed to patterns of meaning which emerge from data collection which are presented in the partici- pants own words in qualitative paradigm. By using this paradigm in both natural and social sciences, the discipline of statistics and philosophy of numbers have gradual development and lead to be multi-faced and obscured. In the 19th century, quantitative methods have been the favoured choice, methodological imperative. At the end of 19th century these methods have been increasingly refined by more and more complex types of statistics and they have been adapted to computer technology [8;4]. During the 1940s and 1950s, the quantitative paradigm dominated the social science and the educational research scene [2;5]. These mathematical significances of quantitative paradigm in education are looked at by the following major aspects which outlined this paradigm. Regarding the Ontology issue of what is the nature of reality in quantitative paradigm, the quantitative researcher views reality as objective, out there singular and apart from or independent of the researcher. By using questionaires or instru- ments, some things in education can be measured objectively. For example, when the researchers measure learning achievements of children with disabilities in regu- lar primary schools, they use different kinds of learning achievement tests to collect the data and base it on the test scores to prove the hypothesis. These results are 150 Quantitative and qualitative research in education something which occurs outside of quantitative researchers and are ranked by them. Furthermore, the quantitative researchers assume the world can be broken into sim- pler parts and they view reality as quantifiable as objective and as divisible into smaller parts without distorting the phenomena under these investigations [7;26]. On the epistemological assumption, the question raised: What is the relation- ship of the researcher to that which is being researched? The quantitative approach holds that the researcher should remain unbiased and independent of that being re- searched. Therefore, whatever the methodologies used, the quantitative researchers attempt to control for bias, select a systematic sample and be objective in assessing a situation [4;6]. Thus what is the role of values in quantitative paradigm when the researchers are independent of that being researched? The researchers values are kept out of the study that so-called value-free or unbiased and universal value which is universally applicable regardless of time, place, culture and other factors [5;351]. This feat is accomplished through entirely omitting statements about values from a written report, using impersonal language, and reporting the existing facts arguing closely from the evidence gathered in the study. Subsequently, the language used in quantitative or rhetoric should not only be impersonal and formal but also based on accepted concepts such as relationship, comparison, and within-group [4;6] and variables, hypotheses. Katsuko agreed that using neutral scientific language was ef- fective not only for providing the research facts but also for explaining the statistical truth [5]. In details, to describe the research problem in quantitative research, the researcher emphasizes the need to explain, predict, or describe something; therefore, the research questions typically asks about a relationship that may exist between or among two or more variables. It should identify the variables being investigated and specify the type of relationship whether it is descriptive, predictive, or causal to be investigated. These approaches about reality, the relationship between the researcher and that researched, the role of values, and the rhetoric, has emerged as a methodol- ogy in quantitative paradigm. One of the quantitative methodologies is by using a deductive form of logic wherein theories and hypotheses are tested in a cause- and-effect order. Concepts, variables, and hypotheses are chosen before the study begins and remain fixed throughout the study in a static design. Another approach of quantitative methodology which does not venture beyond these predetermined hypotheses, but developes generalizations that contribute to the theory and that enable one to better predict, explain, and understand some phenomenon in case the information and instruments are valid and reliable [4;7]. 151 Pham Thi Ben 2.2. Qualitative research in education Qualitative paradigm called generic definition which means different things to different people. Qualitative paradigm stems from an anti-positivistic, inter- pretative approach, is idiographic, thus holistic in nature, and the main aim is to understand social life and the meaning that people attach to everyday life [6;408]. It is also termed the constructivist approach or naturalistic, or the interpretative ap- proach, or the post-positivist or postmodern perspective. It began as a countermove- ment to the positivist tradition [4]. Qualitative research is consistent in qualitative paradigm which is methodologies of research including ethnographic, case studies and biographical research. Qualitative research involves the studied use and collection of a variety of empirical materials-case studies, personal experience, introspective, life stories, interviews, observational, historical, interactions, and visual texts [2;2]. Since the 1960s qualitative methods have been dominantly used in humanities [8]. A useful description of qualitative research helps us clarify the term: Qualitative research provides descriptions and accounts of the processes and social interactions in natural settings and based upon a combination of observation and interviewing of participants in order to understand their perspectives [8;6]. Characteristics of qualitative have been indicated in 8 dimentions: (1) An exploratory and descriptive focus which investigates and responds to exploratory and descriptive questions - What? and deepen understanding of expe- rience from perspectives of participants. (2) Emergent design. (3) A purposed sample with variability. (4) Data collection in the natural settings. (5) Emphasis on human as instrument. (6) Qualitative methods of data collections with the inquiry of using peoples words and actions to capture language and behaviour patterns by participant ob- servation, in-depth interview, group interview, collection of relevant documents and the techniques such as field notes, audio-tapes, photographs or video tapes. (7) Early and ongoing inductive data analysis: systematic building of homo- geneous categories of meaning inductively derived from the data. (8) A case study approach to reporting research outcomes with rich narrative and case study can provide enough information to determine the findings of the study to possibly apply to other people or settings [7;47]. Qualitative research understands the world under investigation, peoples words and actions therefore, discovery by qualitative research not sweeping generalizations but contextual findings; reality is multiple and constructed [8;18]. In qualitative research we are particularly interested in how others see and experience the world. 152 Quantitative and qualitative research in education This requires us to be very aware of the lens which we bring to the task. Perhaps it is a perceptual impossibility to look at one’s own lens at the same time as one is looking through it, but this is one of the many fascinating challenges of qualitative research [8;20]. The qualitative research looks to understanding a situation as it is constructed by the participants and attempts to capture what people say and do, that is, the products of how people interpret the world or observing and interpreting reality [2;3]. The reality is subjective and multiple as seen by participants; thus, the reality is constructed by the individuals involved in the research situation and each indi- vidual giving findings in any researched situation in which researcher’s viewpoint is a crucial factor and researchers subjectivity deeply affects the research [5]. In consequence, the relationship between researcher and the researched is impossible to separate, in other words, the researcher is considered to be an insider to the research [3]. From this view, what a qualitative researcher chooses to study in edu- cation is related to his or her value judgments. Qualitative investigators admit the value-ladened nature of the study and actively reports his or her values and biases [4;6]. Thus, the language of the study may be in the first person and personal and use qualitative terms such as understanding, discovery and meaning. For example, research questions tend to focus on exploring a process, an event or a phenomenon of education such as the teachers decision making process in teaching strategies for children with Autistic Spectrum. Unlike quantitative research, in which hypothesis are stated before collecting the data, hypotheses in qualitative research are often generated as the data are collected and the researcher gains knowledge into what is being studied [1]. In order to attempt to gain an understanding of a person or situation that is meaningful for those involved in the inquiry [7;26], qualitative re- searchers look to in dwelling as a posture and to the human-as-instrument for data collection and analysis. There are four main types of qualitative research in education: Ethnography, phenomenology, grounded theory and case studies. Ethnography is rooted in an- thropology which understands the relationship between behaviour and culture. En- thnography also provide diverse perspectives toward education and contribute to the authentic portrayal of a complex, multifaceted human society [6;10]. Ethnographic investigations typically assume the form of case studies in which the researcher wit- nesses an ongoing educational event in order to record what occurs. The investigator may view the event from the perspective of either an outside observer or an active participant. Phenomelology is derived from a philosophy to describe the experience from the participantss point of view. The researcher attempts to understand how one or more individuals experience a phenomenon [1]. For example, the researcher might interview 20 mothers and ask them to describe their experiences of the deliveries of their children with disabilities. Grounded theory is begun in sociology to de- 153 Pham Thi Ben rive a theory that links participants perspectives to general social science theories. Grounded theory methodologists are considered as theory builders [2;17] because theory emerges from the data and is thus grounded in the data. The theory can be found in the field if the research activity is sufficiently ground in the categories of that field. The theory is generated and developed from data that the researcher collects, that means they begin at the empirical level (data collection) and end at conceptual level [2;17]. For example, grounded theory researchers might collect data from blind students who have had typical behaviour patterns and develop a theory to explain how and why this behaviour occurs. In case studies, which are defined to understand a single case in-depth in order to understand the person or phenomenon or is focused on providing a detailed account of one or more cases. For example, the researcher might study a classroom that was given a new curriculum for pupils with disabilities. Therefore, a case study is an intensive description [6;9] to pursuit a usual purpose of furnish a multifaceted, individualized understanding of people or objects being studied. Using multiple methods in data collection and analysis, case study reports are a rich description of the context and operation of the case or cases and discusses the themes, issues or implications in the study. To sum up, qualitative research has conveyed its strengths in education. It is useful for studying a limited number of cases in depth to provide individual case information and describe complex and rich detail phenomena which are situated and embedded in local contexts. Data is collected in naturalistic settings and based on the participants own categories of meaning; qualitative research provides un- derstanding and descriptions of peoples personal experiences of phenomena and determines how participants interpret constructs. However, the findings in quali- tative research might not fit into other people or settings; therefore, it is difficult to make quantitative predictions, to test hypotheses and theories in large numbers of participants. It takes more time in both to collect and analyze data and with high risk of ambiguities and frustrations. The results are more easily influenced by the researchers personal biases and idiosyncrasies; in some cases, hence the lower credibility is visibilily realized. 3. Conclusion As described above regarding philosophical significances and the technical methods of quantitative and qualitative paradigms in education, in conclusion, the difference from qualitative and quantitative research in education is summarised basing on 4 dimentions: (1) Assumption: quantitative is objective reality sought through facts while that in quanlitative is social reality contructed; (2) Purpose: quantitative focuses on finding out the causes; on the other hand, that of quali- tative is looking for understanding; (3) Approach: quantitative is experimental or 154 Quantitative and qualitative research in education correlation and qualitative is form of ethnography; and (4) Research role: research role detached in quantitative and immersed in qualitative research. Furthermore, there are differences in procedure circles of quantitative and qualitative research. Quantitative starts the circle from theory, then review of prior research. From theorical frame work, it develops hypotheses. These hypotheses will lead to data collection strategies in order to test them and then data analysis and conclusions drawn at the end. Opposingly, qualitative research starts from data col- lection to data analysis, then drawn conclusions, then creation hyphothesis and ends up with development of theory. The procedure cycle indicates the scientific methods of both the quantitative and qualitative. The researcher tests hypotheses and theory with data which so-called deductive or top-down in quantitative research whereas in qualitative research the researcher generates new hypotheses and grounded theory from data collected during fieldwork which are so-called inductive or bottom-top methods. Quantitative methodology includes ways to collect data for mathematical anal- ysis. Surveys, questionaires that give numbers and data are included here as meth- ods. Quantitative methods usually require big samples and they measure features of a whole population. For examples, quantitative questions in education might be: How many (or what percentage of) students with disabilities complete primary school in Vietnam? More specific school based quantitative studies may investigate questions such as: What kinds of special needs students suffer in our schools? Quan- titative questions all relate to measurements. It is also necessary to judge whether the findings are good research results, the researcher has to measure reliability and validity. In education, quantitative research is good because it can indicate popula- tion trends and issues. Quantitative research often informs policies and can influence where funding is directed. Qualitative methodology, on the other hands, includes interviews and obser- vation and many other methods. Qualitative research does not have to have big numbers as one or two case studies can provide a lot of information for people to understand a situation. The researcher asks different types of questions that try to understand the complexity of a specific situatio
Tài liệu liên quan