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Education: Qualitative / Quantitative Research

Qualitative /Quantitative Research

Qualitative Research

Quantitative Research


Understand and interpret social interactions.

Test hypotheses. Look at cause and effect. Predict.

Group Studied

Tends to be smaller, nonrandom. Researchers may get involved in lives of those studied.

Tends to be larger, randomly selected. Anonymity important.


Study of the whole rather than specific variables.

A few variables studied.

Type of Data Collected

Emphasis is on words. Increasing interest in visual data.

Emphasis is on numbers. Variables.

Form of Data Collected

In-depth interviews, participant observation, field notes, and open-ended questions.

Data based on precise measurement using structured and validated data-collection instruments

Type of Data Analysis

Use descriptive data; search for patterns, themes, and holistic features; appreciate difference/variation.

Identify statistical relationships among variables.

Objectivity / Subjectivity

Subjectivity is expected.

Objectivity is critical.

Role of Researcher

Researcher is central to any study. Interpretations are based on researcher's experience and background.

Researcher tries to remain outside of the system, keeping biases to a minimum.

Nature of Reality/Truth

Multiple realities; subjective.

Single reality; objective.

Nature of Observation

Study groups and individuals in natural settings; attempt to understand perspectives.

Study behavior under controlled conditions; isolate the causal effect of single variables.

Scientific method

"Bottom-up." The researcher generates hypotheses from data collected during fieldwork.

"Top-down." The researcher tests hypotheses and theory with data.

Final Report

Informal narrative.

Formal statistical report.



Research Methods, examples

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