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Mokhtar Ismail - Qualitative Research Methodology

Mokhtar Ismail - Qualitative Research Methodology

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Pusat Pengajian Ilmu PendidikanKolokium Pelajar Pengajian Siswazah PPIP 20058.00 - 10.00 pagi. Input Session IV, 16 Disember 2005 (Jumaat)
Quantitative Research Methodology
 byMokhtar Ismail
The purpose of doing research is to add a new knowledge to the existing body of knowledge in an area of interest. A research problem therefore should not be a tediousone. It should be carefully thought and polished before going to the field for datacollection. To compose a good research problem is time consuming. Sometimes our firstidea about an issue is not really a research problem as yet, until the idea is discussed andexpanded. The best method of expanding the research problem based on the first idea is by searching through the journal articles on what other people have done in the area. It isworth spending more time in polishing up a research problem than going too early to startthe research.If a research problem needs quantitative approach to address the research questionsrelated to the problem, the researcher should be ready to equip him/herself with sufficientknowledge of quantitative research methodology pertinent to the research itself. For thatmatter not every body can do research. Only those who are patient, persevere,hardworking and critical minded can. One should be patient in trying to understand thestatistical concepts that underlie the rationale of making generalization of the researchresults. One should be persevere in selecting the most valid instrument for the research.One should be hardworking in looking for very related models or theories that underliethe research premise and one should be critical minded in analyzing the research data.To begin with one should learn about basic descriptive and inferential statistics and typesof research and make sense out of the linkages between the two. Besides, one should alsolearn about the sequence of reporting research report: Chapter one to five (or sometimesmore than five) and the skills on how to carry out literature review. The focus of this paper is on making sense out of the linkages between statistics and types of research because this constitutes the major difference between quantitative and qualitativeresearch approach.
Types of Research
Fitting a research problem to a specific type of research is quite a task. Since one has to be crystal clear on the relationships among the variables in the research problem beforedeciding on the types of research to be adopted. There are two major kinds of relationships, i.e., with or without cause-and-effect. A cause-and-effect relationshipdemands experimental, quasi-experimental, ex-post-facto method or probably a time
series design for longitudinal observations. A non cause-and-effect relationship requires a plain descriptive research describing about the pattern of relationships among thevariables.Let us take a look at a brief research problem as an example in selecting a type of research:
Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English creates a lot of problems amongstudents as well as teachers. The question ‘Do students actually benefited from thenew policy?’ really bothers every citizen.
Based on the above research problem many types of research could be planned dependingon the focus by a researcher. For example, let cause-and-effect relationship be the focus,i.e., the interest of every citizen would be ‘Did the new policy causes students performance to drop?’ Thus, the relevant types of research are, a pure experiment, aquasi-experiment, an ex-post-facto or a time-series design:Type 1: A pure experiment. This type enables us to manipulate an independent variable(iv) in order to see the effect on the dependent variable (dv). With regard to the aboveresearch problem, the iv is ‘implementation of new policy’ and the dv is students performance. Practically, it is not possible to manipulate the iv in the above example,therefore a true experiment is out of question.Type 2: A quasi experiment. The only difference between a quasi experiment and a trueexperiment is that, in quasi experiment there is no randomization of subjects betweenlevels of the iv, for instance between control and experimental groups. With regard to theabove research problem a quasi experiment is also out of question for similar reason asType 1.Type 3: Ex-post-facto or causal-comparative. A causal relation could also be established by causal-comparative method although not as strong as the experimental method. Themethod is suitable when iv is already available in the research setting. As for the aboveresearch problem, this type could be the closest in order to search for a cause-and-effectrelationship between the iv and the dv. The iv is already there in the research setting:‘implementation of new policy’. Our job is to search for the levels of the iv namelysubjects who are being exposed to the new policy and subjects who are not. For example:if the new policy has been carried out for last three years, the comparison in Mathematicsability could be made between end of year three pupils this year (who were taught inEnglish) and beginning of year four pupils (who were taught in Malay).Type 4: Time series design. A cause-and-effect relationship could also be establishedusing a time series design. A series of observations based on a defined duration betweenobservations are recorded for a group of subjects before and after a treatment is given. If we find that the performance of the subjects are consistently higher after the treatment,than the effect has taken place and it is caused by the treatment. As for the above research problem, probably it is not possible to carry out this research design since the treatment2
which is ‘the new policy’ has already taken place. Had we known that this policy wasgoing to be implemented last three years we could have gathered time series data way before that time, in order to see the effect after the policy is being implemented. Now let us use the similar research problem and try to fit in the types of research whichare non-cause-and-effect in nature or also known as descriptive research.Type 5: Survey research. If the focus is not so much on A causes B, but rather thedescription of a phenomena such as relationship among variables, survey research isappropriate. For example, the concern is about views of general public including parentsabout the new policy, i.e., how the new policy has affected achievement of their childrenin Mathematics.Type 6: Correlational research. A researcher has prior knowledge about correlationsamong variables in previous studies similar to the one in the above research problem. For instance, there is a high correlation between ability to speak English and number of English vocabularies of each pupil.Type 7: R&D type of research. The focus is on development of a prototype and avalidation process to justify its usefulness. With regard to the above research problem, probably the interest is on developing a new teaching method and this method is going to be validated by means of an experiment. PTPM students like to do this type of research.They develop courseware and they validate its effectiveness by means of an experiment.Psychometric students too carry out this type research. They develop tests and validatethem by presenting validity evidences of various kinds: content, predictive and construct.Type 8: Evaluation research. The focus is on evaluating an event by means of the abovetypes of research and to make judgment about its usefulness. This type of research is probably not truly quantitative due to the elements of value judgment made by theresearcher. With regard to the above research problem, the focus is on for example theeffectiveness of teaching of Mathematics courseware currently used by teachers. There isa slight difference between Evaluation Research and Program Evaluation. The latter is for decision making purposes rather than adding new knowledge to the body of existingknowledge in the area of interest and is usually based on existing program evaluationmodels pioneered by Ralph Tyler.There are sometimes overlaps in terms of procedures between each research type: 1through 8, and sometimes it is not easy to categorize them objectively according to eachof the type. Nevertheless a researcher should have some idea on what is the best name to be assigned to his or her research type.If the above types do not fit a researcher’s focus, probably qualitative research approachis the answer. This approach requires totally different philosophy in terms of ‘socialreality’. As for the above research problem the interest is on the process rather than theoutcome. For example, the researcher is interested in the mechanics of pupilcomprehension process when they listen in English and think in their native language.3

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