Employed by a Researcher Can Positively Term Paper

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¶ … employed by a researcher can positively or negatively affect the outcome of research as well as perceived applicability or usefulness of a study. Thus it is vital that the researcher adopt a research methodology that is relevant to the phenomena being examined, and the methodology that will provide the most comprehensive explanation for predicted patterns or observed behaviors.

There are two primary forms of research methodology employed by researchers engaged in a quest to uncover information about a given phenomena: qualitative and quantitative. There is a large body of evidence available that supports both forms of methodology for acquiring insight and information regarding given behaviors and experiences.

In some situations, both a qualitative and quantitative approach of research methodology have been adopted, though by and large most people in the research community agree that it is vital that a researcher employ the use of one or another research methodology, and that selection should be based largely upon their research goals and their intent.

For purposes of this study, the researcher is attempting to discern whether a qualitative or quantitative approach to research methodology is appropriate for examining PALS. PALS measures young children's knowledge of important literacy fundamentals, including phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, knowledge of letter sounds, spelling concept of word, word recognition in isolation, and oral passage reading.

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The major purpose of PALS is to identify those students who are below grade-level expectations in these areas and may be in need of additional reading instruction. The primary emphasis of the research will be an approach to determining the "what" "how" and "who" with regard to literacy problems in the classroom.

Meaning, the research will focus on determining what patterns are occurring in the classroom, how they are occurring and who they are occurring to. Bloland (1992) suggests that such relationships are best measured via a qualitative approach, which allows interpretive analysis of a given phenomena in a complex setting such as an educational environment.

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There is also however, much support for a quantitative approach, which generally attempts to measure "why" something is occurring (Bloland, 1992). Within the field of education, an emphasis of late has been placed on conducting quantitative analysis that is analysis that incorporates the use of statistical analysis, fact collecting and data collecting to derive meaning or distinguish between cause and effect relationships (Lee & Poynton, 2000).

In fact, there are many that might argue that a quantitative approach is preferable to a qualitative approach in all situations regardless of the phenomena being studied (Myburgh, Poggenpoel & Van Der Linde, 2001) because it lends itself to less 'subjective analysis.' However further exploration into the matter suggests that qualitative analysis is not subjective in nature and may in fact be the preferred method for research analysis into complex behavioral issues, particularly when the researcher is attempting to determine patterns in behavior and conduct (Myburgh, et. al, 2001).

That there is a great deal of 'opinion' surrounding the issue of both qualitative and quantitative research methodology cannot be argued. Thus research will be examined from both perspectives, qualitative and quantitative, in order to ascertain which methodology is best suited to provide detailed analysis of the PALS program, and in order to determine which methodology should be adopted by the researcher to provide adequate insight into the given phenomena that the researcher is attempting to explore. No conclusions will be made with regard to the legitimacy of either research approach until the final portion of this analysis, where a determination will be made as to whether a qualitative or quantitative approach is more appropriate in this particularly setting.

History of Qualitative-Quantitative Research

Both qualitative and quantitative research according to Benz & Newman (1998) have foundations in philosophical roots and natural philosophies. Throughout time qualitative and quantitative research methods have been used successfully by researchers to explain patterns in behavior, given phenomena and to acquire a greater understanding of human behaviors. Over time one research methodology is often favored over another. Despite this both have been used almost equally with regard to frequency to examine sociological phenomena.

Though there are those that would argue in support of one method vs. another, a researcher would be hard pressed to prove that one method is ultimately better than the other; in fact there are those that would argue that the two should not be used independently from one another, but rather in conjunction with one another to provide adequate insight and understanding of social phenomena in complex settings (CSU, 2004).

Qualitative researchers vary with regard to theory, however a majority have reflected on individual phenomenological perspectives; quantitative researcher approaches however, no matter the theoretical foundation, have throughout time emphasized discovery of a common reality "upon which people can agree" (Benz & Newman, 1998:2). This is not to say that qualitative approaches are not universally agreed upon. There is however, a generally acknowledgement within the scientific community that qualitative research often lends itself to more interpretation or a wide range of interpretation from many different perspectives (Benz & Newman, 1998).

Traditionally the qualitative researcher will employ the use of a variety of techniques that can be reconstructed, much as is the case with quantitative methods. However the manner in which the qualitative researcher interprets the results of the information gathered may be more subjective in nature than the manner in which quantitative data is interpreted (Benz & Newman, 1998).

Reality in and of itself may be considered a social construct, and how one determines the best method for conducting and interpreting a study and the conclusions that are subsequently drawn are considerably different when one uses a quantitative philosophy, which assumes that "a common objective reality" is tangible for all individuals (Benz & Newman, 1998). However, there are different sets of belief and assumptions that are associated with both forms of research.

Qualitative and quantitative researchers have often debated based on their perspectives of what aspects of reality are measurable vs. which are not (Blumer, 1980; Douglas 1976; Benz & Newman, 1998). For example, Benz & Newman (1998) cite William Firestone (1987) who states that qualitative and quantitative research can be distinguished based on four identifying dimensions which are: assumptions, purpose, approach and the research role (p. 2).

The key factor to determine with regard to research, according to Firestone (1987), is whether reality is sought through facts (quantitative research) or whether reality is socially constructed (more qualitative in nature). However, despite this declaration it is vital to note that qualitative research and supporters of this form of research have argued successfully that qualitative research is just as likely to provide information that is reality based and factual in nature (Myburgh, et. al, 2001).

Qualitative information is simply more likely according to supporters, to provide information from a given or directed point-of-view, and it may be more narrowly focused, however it is also more subject to interpretation, and lends itself to more creative analysis and discourse about a given phenomena in some cases than quantitative research (Myburgh, et. al, 2001).

An experimental or correlational form of research is typically utilized when embarking on fact seeking or quantitative research, whereas more theoretical approaches are typically assumed for purposes of qualitative research (Shaker, 1990). Shaker (1990) supports a "naturalistic" or qualitative approach to interpret reality when the aim is developing theories to express a phenomena that is experienced, whereas a qualitative approach should be utilized more when the researcher has developed a certain hypothesis that requires that the researcher conduct experiments or tests to determine whether or not a given phenomena can be explained statistically.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research great debate exists with regard to qualitative and quantitative research. Since the dawn of time researchers have attempted to determine whether one method is better than the other. This is particularly the case among educators and educational research authorities, who at various times have argued in favor of one form of research vs. another. From a fact-based or 'scientific' perspective, logically one can only argue that the methods employed by the researcher must depend entirely upon the aims of research; that is if the researcher intends to provide statistical information and a numbers based approach to analysis, a quantitative approach is the most well suited to that particular environment (Potter, 1996).

If however, the intent of the researcher is to gather information about a given phenomena, with the intent of providing interpretive analysis of how something is occurring and the frequency with which it is occurring a qualitative approach may be warranted (Mills, 2000).

Likewise if the researcher is attempting to provide information about phenomena without determining a causal relationship, then qualitative research is certainly warranted. Historically there are many instances where a qualitative approach is much more suitable than a quantitative, as a causal relationship is not always the primary focus of research endeavors.

The type of research methodology employed might also be contingent upon the field being studied or the experiences of the researcher. There are those within the scientific community that always… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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