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Design Your Own Qualitative or Quantitative Analysis

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  • Design your own qualitative OR quantitative research using the outline below.
  • Write out your research design in a word processor.
  • Once complete, submit your research design by clicking on, "1.1 Submit: Research Design 1" in the table of contents.

You've now had a chance to see examples of both qualitative and quantitative research and to go through the design process for both. Now it's your turn.

In this exercise, you will be asked to pick your own problem for research and to take it through the basic design process. This will include defining the problem for research, conducting a preliminary search of the literature, exploring alternative options for research, and selecting a particular strategy to follow. You will be going through the stages we have experienced before, except that this time you will not have the expert's solution for comparison.

One difference between this exercise and the previous one is in asking you to do this design as an individual, rather than as a group. This does not mean that you can't bounce your ideas off others - classmates, co-workers, etc. Feel free to discuss and brainstorm with others. However, the solution you come up with should be your own, and you should work the exercise on your own.

My suggestion is that you think of breaking up the guided design process into three steps: (1) stating the goals; (2) gathering information; and (3) constructing a research design , to include revisions as needed.

The following considerations are meant to guide you along the path you choose, qualitative or quantitative.

Stating the goals: The most important feature of this step is to be clear on what you want to know. As you get clear on asking your question, the choice of qualitative or quantitative approaches will be come clearer to you. If you are not clear on the differences, refer back to previous studies you've seen - both the recess and the Channel One exercises presented you with one study of each kind, even though the end goal was to present the design of one kind. Also, draw upon the insights from the course texts: Engaging teachers and Practical Research.

For example: if I wanted to know how two Native American teachers had made the career choices that got them into teaching, I could see myself interviewing them extensively to obtain information. That is the kind of study that would probably be qualitative. Similarly, if a history of my school or an analysis of student writing themes was most interesting, I would expect to use a qualitative study approach.

On the other hand, if my interest was in doing an action research study to find out which of two ways of teaching fractions was more effective- say a computer program vs. group instruction - I could set up a mini-experimental study, teach two groups in different ways, and compare their test results. That would be a quantitative study. Similarly, if I had a major interest in how student expectations for their education and careers differed from those held by their parents (for their children), I would probably use a questionnaire to survey both groups. If the questionnaire could be tabulated and summarized numerically, I would be doing a quantitative study.

Go ahead now, if you're ready with a problem, and take it through the first step: Stating the goals:

Step 1: State the Goals of the Work

(What is it that you want to understand? How do you intend to measure it? Will this be a qualitative or a quantitative study?)

Just a hint: both qualitative and quantitative studies begin with basic research questions. In quantitative studies, these are sometimes formalized into research hypotheses, and sometimes not. In any case, the question are set and then the study is designed. On the other hand, qualitative studies generally use an emergent design, where the question evolves as the study proceeds. In either case, you need to begin with questions.

Step 2: Gather Information

It is useful to go through the kind of steps you've seen in Guided Design: (1) locate relevant sources; (2) read and assimilate them; and (3) summarize findings.

As you complete this step, try to get some coverage of the topic, possibly from a trip to a university or district library, search of the ERIC system, or access to the Pioneer on-line database. Use your ingenuity to obtain this information.

Be aware that in most quantitative research, it is expected that you will do your literature search prior to collecting any data. The published research should help you frame your question and know what topics are worthy of study. For qualitative research, on the other hand, it is anticipated that you will have some knowledge before gathering data, but that you will use reading to inform your study all along. (We say that you enter the field "open-minded but not empty-headed"). You would continue to search the literature throughout the completion of a qualitative study.

Go ahead now and gather information (I'll be looking for a minimum of 4-5 sources, with information from each summarized) .You may do some brainstorming about sources and then some searching, prior to completing this step. When you're ready, type in your sources searched and a summary of your findings.

Step 3: Construct a Research Design

This is the creative part of the assignment. Having identified a research problem and having gathered information to help you with the study, at this point you need to think through the steps needed to actually conduct a study. (The closer you can make this to your own reality, the better). Your solution should include:

  • A look at alternative solutions (brainstorming).
  • A specifying of constraints (as realistically as possible, drawing upon possible district resources, maybe through a proposal or with an existing program).
  • A research design you think will work

Some ways that you can evaluate and revise as you go (for a quantitative study, this might include a pilot test. For a qualitative one, it would be the continuation of the emergent design).

Good luck. This is the core experience for the research class. Give it your best shot.

Click here for Design Your Own Research Checklist and Grading Rubric

Practical Research Reading Assignment

  • Read Chapter 6
Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . factpetersen. (2007, August 01). Design Your Own Qualitative or Quantitative Analysis. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License