In the past I have always favoured a mixed method approach. This isn’t so much because of my personal worldview, but the context I was researching in. Quantitative research gave me those numbers, percentages and graphs that resonated with the management team. I get the feeling I’m not the only person who has experienced this. Why do senior managers love hard figure so much? All this is assuming a statistically significant sample of course. Then comes in qualitative. The little stories that tell you a lot. Those little glimpses into something that add up to a hint at the bigger picture. I’ve always preferred that approach I think as I’ve liked connecting with people as a researcher. I always feel I learn more.
This week I focused on studying Research Methods for Education (Newby, 2012) and an older edition of Research Design (Creswell, 2003). After James’ post on Google +, I event revisited Kirkpatrick as I had adapted some work based on that model for our service level evaluation. There were some important things I wanted to move towards with this – moving away from mere evaluation to look at outputs and impact. This naturally required a new focus on the later stages which required fitting it all into a bigger framework.
What distinguishes a qualitative study from a quantitative study?
|1||Tests/verifies explanations or theories to produce a measurable truth. Other researchers should be able to replicate results. Uses closed ended approaches/questions to measure and quantify.||Collects meanings to explore the different views people subscribe to. Uses open-ended questions and approaches.|
|2||Produces a single quantifiable truth*||Produces meaning(s) from the individualised reality perceived by people – there is no single truth*.“People subscribe to different views and believe valid but different truths*” (Newby, 2010: pp45)|
|3||The researcher is objective and neutral. Unbiased and rigorous approaches are used||The researcher is not unbiased and can be committed or based within the community being studies. Interpretation of results can be|
I have labelled my top characteristics above. I felt the need to draw out some further differences and some similarities:
|4||Is valid where approach is rigorous and accepted|
|5||*Produces ‘constructed’ knowledge and truths. There is no such thing as an indisputable truth. Any ‘truth’ may later be disproved. (See discussion on Henry’s blog)|
|6||Data takes the form of numbers||Data can take any form|
I am still wary of my choice in a table to draw out the differences between qualitative and quantitative. I think I wanted to do this as I could link rows to show similarities too. Although it is an obvious one, I still feel the need to justify qualitative approaches. I sadly still come across individuals who dislike things they cannot put a ruler against to produce a nice statistic.
I am still aware I am missing my third blog post that was due this week. Sadly I am still playing catch up with the course. This week had a HUGE amount of required reading which I have simply not got through due to unforeseen circumstances this morning. I did particularly enjoy reading Newby’s first chapter. I found the ‘warnings’ amusing and truthful. Newby labels research in educational contexts as highly political which I think we can all relate to . I think this is especially apparent within HE as there are institutional politics ontop. I think Newby presents a worst case scenario in suggesting that research can “make you enemies”. Perhaps this is an exaggeration, but I think it raises useful points about considering how to approach a topic that may dispute orthodoxy or identify a different approach/path/strategy to the one agreed.
Creswell, J. W. (2003) Research Design, Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Method Approaches
Newby, P. (2010) Research Methods for Education