Statistics Term Paper

Pages: 15 (4324 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Teaching

¶ … Statistics

The intent of this study is to define both the qualitative and quantitative statistical methodologies including the development of descriptive and inferential statistics applied to the field of education overall and school counseling specifically. Each of the qualitative and quantitative approaches to statistics are also analyzed from the perspective of how best they can be applied to educational and counseling situations to best support and serve the student. The specifics of how to apply these techniques within the context of a methodological approach to completing research projects is also evaluated. Specifically focusing on the steps of research design, data collection, data analysis, and the ethics of the interpretation of research are also discussed.

Exploring Qualitative Research Methods in Education and Counseling

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There are many factors that define if a research strategy will have a qualitative or quantitative approach, including the stage of existing knowledge and pre-existing research in the specific area of interest, the level of forced-choice responses that could generated from more quantitatively-focused research, and the broader research objectives. Clearly in the field of education and counseling there are a small percentage of research studies completed using qualitatively focused studies. The fact that only 16 of the 220 studies that Zuga cites in his analysis of technology-based teaching (1994) were based on qualitative analysis techniques, and of those, none completed in the U.S. shows this nations' heavy reliance and focus on the quantification of educational factors and the influence of counseling strategies on performance. The lack of focus on the qualitative aspects of research has created a vacuum in regards to finding emerging interrelationships and undiscovered and therefore unquantifiable aspects of how education and counseling impact students' performance.

Term Paper on Statistics the Intent of This Study Is Assignment

Qualitative research, both from a social science as well as a business standpoint is broadly considered to be research completed through non-quantifiable means. As a result, non-quantifiable research relies on approaches and methodologies that focus on observation, interpretation and analysis, and often as a result discover entirely new relationships and causal relationships in subjects and data not seen before. Strauss and Corbin have defined qualitative research as "any kind of research that produces findings not arrived at by means of statistical procedures or other means of quantification" (1990,-page 17) and as a result generates an entirely different knowledge base for any field of research of academic inquiry than does quantitative research.

In the majority of research methodologies, the use of qualitative approaches and techniques are used for purposes of exploratory research according to Dr. Joppe and her tutorials on exploratory research (2007). Qualitative research techniques seek to set the foundation for the quantification of relationships in data in later stages of a multiphase research project. From this standpoint, qualitative research anchors the descriptive research aspects of any research study by seeking to first understand then analyze the extent of relationships seen throughout the subject(s) and areas of interest being studied. This is especially the case in education, where qualitative techniques used for describing the interaction of specific attributes of teaching strategies need to be first evaluated and analyzed to see their influence on the broader populations of interest.

There are many techniques and methodologies that researchers use in completing qualitative research studies. The key point to keep in mind about these specific techniques and methodologies is that the focus is first and foremost on developing insights into entirely new relationships, attributes, and in the case of educational counseling, the impact of alternate learning strategies on students' performance. Qualitative research studies also focus on looking to ascertain the attitudinal and perceptual biases and preferences of students, in an effort to further create a higher level of learning effectiveness from strategies created. In this regard qualitative research looks to find why students perceive, believe and act on one educational strategy relative to another. This is a very critical piece of descriptive research and also is essential defining the future direction of predictive research that will provide the quantification of which elements of a learning strategy will deliver the greatest results.

Qualitative research by definition is more exploratory in nature and as a result has the following characteristics. First, the data acquired from observational methods is by nature unstructured, which leads to more descriptive series of assumptions about how attitudes, behaviors and beliefs impact learning and academic performance through the use of counseling techniques and strategies. The more unstructured the data, the greater the need for continually building out a knowledge base of the area of interest. As a result of the less structured nature of qualitative data, this area of research techniques and methodologies rely to a much greater extent on open-ended questions which are used to gain greater insights from the respondents. The essence of qualitative research as an exploratory research strategy is the use of these open-ended questions to allow the respondents to provide insights that may not be obvious even more significant efforts to gain insights through knowledge alone. As a result of the inherent nature of qualitative research striving to find what motivates students to attain academic performance, including the ability to find value in counseling and act upon advice and direction they see as relevant, the strongest aspects of this area of research surfaces. Finding out the dynamics of how attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and motivations impact student performance is invaluable and simply cannot be quantified first. What is most critical in many research efforts is to first find these dynamics of how students interact with and develop trust in their counselors;' guidance. For the counselor, finding strategies for making the greate4st contribution possible to students must begin on insights gained from qualitative research. In this regard, qualitative research is critical for setting the knowledge foundation for further, more quantified research. Another aspect of qualitative research that has been often overlooked by many academic researchers is the flexibility this approach provides for re-directing and following specific areas of interest depending on the respondents' interests and focus. This is a critical aspect of qualitative research in that it allows for a significantly greater level of flexibility in following interesting conversation threads with respondents. The focus on exploratory research, taken to an extreme in this regard, resembles an interview vs. A questionnaire-based discussion. The qualitative approach to research gives the researcher significantly greater latitude in pursuing a specific area of interest than do any methods in the more structured quantitative-based approaches used in sub-sequent stages of a research project. On addition to all the above-mentioned advantages there is also the disadvantages inherent in the qualitative research strategies mentioned here. The sample sizes are typically much smaller and therefore not as representative of the entire population as quantitative approaches rely on for statistical reliability and validity. As qualitative techniques do not look to project or define the aspect of their findings across an entire population, the reliability of the findings are often not as robust as with statistically valid quantitative research results. As a result of all these factors, qualitative research is often highly subjective in its interpretation and causality including the interlinking of knowledge generated with other previous experiences. In short, qualitative methods are excellent for building a foundation that defines how a respondent base of interest internalizes, perceives, interprets, and acts on the learning and counseling strategies found in much of the educational research that forms the foundation of strategies in use today.

The qualitative research methods that are most often used in educational research, specifically in the area of counseling include the following: observation; the experience survey; the case study; the pilot study; the depth interview; the focus groups; counselor, student and teacher panels; nominal group techniques; the Delphi method, and a series of projective techniques. Each of these techniques is briefly defined in the context of their contribution to educational research including the definition of learning strategies for the long-term.

Observation is one of the most commonly used approaches to qualitative research, as respondent error is not typically present; as this technique records actual behavior, not stated intentions or even past or future actions. There are several different classifications of the observation technique, and these include participant vs. nonparticipant observation, obtrusive vs. unobtrusive, natural vs. contrived settings, and disguised vs. non-disguised observation, structured vs. unstructured, and direct vs. indirect observation Each of these specific approaches to observation rely on the assumption that was is being observed is genuine and free from bias. Researchers most often use observation to discover ethnographic approaches to learning; which is an area of study that combines both qualitative and quantitatively-based approaches to completing research, yet centers on the social interactions of respondents. In the case of the observation method, ethnographers' studying students would attempt to see behaviors and actions that illustrate a high level of motivation, interest in learning, or a strong focus on how to gain insights into material. What is a major shortcoming of the observation method however is that one of the main benefits of the qualitative-focused research techniques that of finding out the attitudes, beliefs, behaviors… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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