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When conducting research, it is hardly ever possible to study the entire population that you
are interested in. This is why researchers use samples when they seek to collect data and answer
research questions.

One of the most important steps in the research process is the selection of the sample of
individuals who will participate (be observed or questioned). Sampling refers to the process of
selecting these individuals. A sample is a subset of the population being studied. It represents
the larger population and is used to draw inferences about that population. It is a research
technique widely used in the social sciences as a way to gather information about a population
without having to measure the entire population.

Charles, C.M (1995:96) defines a sample as a small group of people selected to represent
the much larger entire population from which it is drawn. Sampling is the act, process, or
technique of selecting a suitable sample or a representative part of a population for the purpose
of determining parameters or characteristics of the whole population.

Sampling is the process of selecting units (e.g., people, organizations) from a population of
interest so that by studying the sample we may fairly generalize our results back to the
population from which they were chosen. Some of the key terms in sampling like "population"
and "sampling frame." Then, because some types of sampling rely upon quantitative models,
we'll talk about some of the statistical terms used in sampling. Finally, we'll discuss the major
distinction between probability and Nonprobability sampling methods and work through the
major types in each.


The first task in selecting a sample is to define the population of interest. The population, in
other words, is the group of interest to the researcher, the group to whom the researcher would
like to generalize the results of the study. a population can be any size and that it will have at
least one (and sometimes several) characteristic(s) that sets it off from any other population.
Notice that a population is always all of the individuals who possess a certain characteristic (or
set of characteristics). In educational research, the population of interest is usually a group of
persons (students, teachers, or other individuals) who possess certain characteristics. In some

cases, however, the population may be defined as a group of classrooms, schools, or even

Target population in educational research usually is defined as all the members of a real or
hypothetical set of people, events, or objects, to which educational researchers wish to
generalize the results of the research (Borg, W.R., Gall, M.D. 1989:216). Target population
is usually too large to reach, so the researchers usually limit the sources of the data into the
accessible population, the sources of data that the researchers have access to get the data from.
Then, the second step to do is to define the accessible population. Researchers usually try to
obtain measures from some of the members of the accessible population in a much smaller
number than the accessible population. This smaller number of the accessible population is
called sample.


1. Sample design should be a representative sample.

A researcher selects a relatively small number for a sample from an entire population. This
sample needs to closely match all the characteristics of the entire population. If the sample used
in an experiment is a representative sample then it will help generalize the results from a small
group to large universe being studied.

2. Sample design should have small sampling error.

Sampling error is the error caused by taking a small sample instead of the whole population
for study. Sampling error refers to the discrepancy that may result from judging all on the basis
of a small number.Sampling error is reduced by selecting a large sample and by using efficient
sample design and estimation strategies.

3. Sample design should be economically viable.

Studies have a limited budget called the research budget. The sampling should be done in
such a way that it is within the research budget and not too expensive to be replicated.

4. Sample design should have marginal systematic bias.

Systematic bias results from errors in the sampling procedures which cannot be reduced or
eliminated by increasing the sample size. The best bet for researchers is to detect the causes
and correct them.

5. Results obtained from the sample should be generalized and applicable to the whole

The sampling design should be created keeping in mind that samples that it covers the
whole universe of the study and is not limited to a part.

6. Focus on objectives.

The sample size must be selected depending upon theresearch objectives. For instance, if a
research is undertaken to find out theimpact of inflation on the poor then the sample size would
be larger, as there aremore poor households in India.

7. Flexibility.

The sample size should not be rigidly followed. The sample size canbe modified depending
upon the circumstances. For instance, the sample sizemay be reduced, if sufficient information
is already available or if there is alimitation of time and funds. However, sample size may be
increased, if properinformation is not available from the current sample.

8. Proper selection of sample unit

The sample unit must be appropriate. Theuniverse comprises of the elements, and each
element can be further divided intounits.


For a reasearch that requires a large population for the source of their data, the first step to
do is to define the target population. Target population is usually too large to reach, so the
reasearchers usually limit the sources of the data into the accessible population, the sources of
data that the reasearchers have acces to get the data from.

The accessible population is still practically too big to get the measures from every member.
So, due to the factors of expense, time, and accessibility, it is not always possible population.
Charles, C.M.(1995:96) defines a sample as a small group of people selected to represent the

much larger entire population from which it is drawn. If the sample is drawn randomly from
the accessible population, the sample is representative of the accessible population and so the
knowledge gained from the sample can be safely generalized into the accessible population.

The representative sample is the sample that shows similarities with the accesible
population. If the sample is biased, the reseaarceher has to report the nature of the bias and
discuss how this bias is likely to affect the results (Borg, W.R., Gall, M.D. 1989:217).


Choosing a sample for a research study is a very important step that can greatly affect the
results of the research. If a sample is not chosen well it can bias the conclusions or even make
the results unusable.






1. Probability Samples

Probability sampling is a technique where in the samples are gathered in a process that gives
all the individuals in the population equal chance of being selected. Many consider this to be
the more methodologically rigorous approach to sampling because it eliminates social biases

that could shape the research sample. Ultimately, though, the sampling technique you choose
should be the one that best allows you to respond to your particular research question.

a. Simple Random Sampling

A simple random sample is one in which each and every member of the population has an
equal and independent chance of being selected. If the sample is large, this method is the best
way yet devised to obtain a sample representative of the population of interest. In simple
random sampling technique the sample is directly drawn erandomly from the population. In
this technique each member of the population is given equal chance of being selected to
become the members of the sample. Furthermore, simple random sampling is not used if
researchers wish to ensure that certain subgroups are present in the sample in the same
proportion as they are in the population. To do this, researchers must engage in what is known
as stratified sampling.

Furthermore, simple random sampling is not used if researchers wish to ensure that certain
subgroups are present in the sample in the same proportion as they are in the population. To do
this, researchers must engage in what is known as stratified sampling. Random samples can be
selected much more fairly by assigning numbers to individuals in the population and then using
a table of random numbers to make the sample selection (Charles, C.M. 1993:97).

IOP Simple Random


Advantages: The advantage of random sampling is that, if large enough, it is very

likely to produce a representative sample.
Disadvantages: disadvantage is that it is not easy to do. Each and every member of the
population must be identified. In most cases, we must be able to contact the individuals

b. Systematic Random Sampling

In a systematic sample, the elements of the population are put into a list and then every
nth element in the list is chosen systematically for inclusion in the sample. Systematic
sampling is a technique for creating a random probability sample in which each piece of
data is chosen at a fixed interval for inclusion in the sample. For example, if a researcher
wanted to create a systematic sample of 1,000 students at a university with an enrolled
population of 10,000, he or she would choose every tenth person from a list of all students.

How to create systematic random sample?

The systematic random sampling technique involves a simple procedure of three steps:

a) Divide the accessible population (e.g. 1000) by the number (e.g. 100) decided for the
sample (e.g. 1000:100 = 10)
b) Select at random a number smaller than the number arrived at by the division (e.g. <10)
c) Starting from that number (e.g. 8) select every 10th name from the list of the accessible
population (8, 18, 28, 38, 48, 58, 68, etc. until 100 names are selected for the sample).

V W X Y Z P W Systematic


The researcher must first decide how many people out of the total population to include in
the sample, keeping in mind that the larger the sample size, the more accurate, valid, and
applicable the results will be. Then, the researcher will decide what the interval for sampling
is, which will be the standard distance between each sampled element. This should be decided
by dividing the total population by the desired sample size. In the example given above, the
sampling interval is 10 because it is the result of dividing 10,000 (the total population) by 1,000
(the desired sample size). Finally, the researcher chooses an element from the list that falls
below the interval, which in this case would be one of the first 10 elements within the sample,
and then proceeds to select every tenth element.

Applying Systematic Sampling

Say you want to create a systematic random sample of 1,000 people from a
population of 10,000. Using a list of the total population, number each person from 1
to 10,000. Then, randomly choose a number, like 4, as the number to start with. This
means that the person numbered "4" would be your first selection, and then every tenth
person from then on would be included in your sample. Your sample, then, would be
composed of persons numbered 14, 24, 34, 44, 54, and so on down the line until you
reach the person numbered 9,994.

Advantages systematic random sample

Researchers like systematic sampling because it is a simple and easy technique that
produces a random sample that is free from bias. It can happen that, with simple
random sampling, the sample population may have clusters of elements that create
bias. Systematic sampling eliminates this possibility because it ensures that each
sampled element is a fixed distance apart from those that surround it.

Disadvantages of Systematic Sampling

When creating a systematic sample, the researcher must take care to ensure that the
interval of selection does not create bias by selecting elements that share a trait. For
example, it could be possible that every tenth person in a racially diverse population
could be Hispanic. In such a case, the systematic sample would be biased because it
would be composed of mostly (or all) Hispanic people, rather than reflecting the racial
diversity of the total population.

c. Stratified Random Sampling

Stratified random sampling is a process in which certain subgroups, or strata, are

selected for the sample in the same proportion as they exist in the population. A stratified
sample is a sampling technique in which the researcher divides the entire target population into
different subgroups or strata, and then randomly selects the final subjects proportionally from
the different strata. This stratified random sampling technique involves a procedure of dividing
the population into homogeneous groups, each group containing subjects with similar
characteristics (Cohen, L., Manion, L. 1994:88, Borg, W.R& Gall, M.D 1989:224). This type

of sampling is used when the researcher wants to highlight specific subgroups within the
population. For example, to obtain a stratified sample of university students, the researcher
would first organize the population by college class and then select appropriate numbers of
freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. This would ensure that the researcher has adequate
amounts of subjects from each class in the final sample.

The advantage of stratified random sampling is that it increases the likelihood of

representativeness, especially if ones sample is not very large. It virtually ensures that key
characteristics of individuals in the population are included in the same proportions in the
sample. We can have more precise information inside the subpopulations about the variables
we are studying. We can raise precision of the estimators of the variables of the whole
population. The disadvantage is that it requires more effort on the part of the researcher. The
choice of the size of the samples inside each stratus to let the sample size be n. It may be
difficult in some populations to divide into strata.

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d. Multi- Stage Cluster/ Cluster Random Sampling

Cluster sampling may be used when it is either impossible or impractical to compile an

excaustive list of the elements that make up the target population. Usually, however, the
population elements are already grouped into subpopulations and lists of those subpopulations
already exist or can be created. To conduct a cluster sample, the researcher first selects groups
or clusters and then from each cluster, selects the individual subjects either by simple random
sampling or systematic random sampling. Or, if the cluster is small enough, the researcher may
choose to include the entire cluster in the final sample rather than a subset from it. Cluster
random sampling is similar to simple random sampling except that groups rather than
individuals are randomly selected (that is, the sampling unit is a group rather than an

For example, lets say the target population in a study was church members in the
United States. There is no list of all church members in the country. The researcher could,
however, create a list of churches in the United States, choose a sample of churches, and then
obtain lists of members from those churches.

One-Stage Cluster Sample

When a researcher includes all of the subjects from the chosen clusters into the
final sample, this is called a one-stage cluster sample. For example, if a researcher is
studying the attitudes of Catholic Church members surrounding the recent exposure of
sex scandals in the Catholic Church, he or she might first sample a list of Catholic
churches across the country.

Two-Stage Cluster Sample

A two-stage cluster sample is obtained when the researcher only selects a

number of subjects from each cluster either through simple random sampling or
systematic random sampling.

Advantages of Cluster Sampling

advantage of cluster sampling is that it is cheap, quick, and easy. Instead of

sampling the entire country when using simple random sampling, the research can
instead allocate resources to the few randomly selected clusters when using cluster

advantage to cluster sampling is that the researcher can have a larger sample
size than if he or she was using simple random sampling. Because the researcher will
only have to take the sample from a number of clusters, he or she can select more
subjects since they are more accessible. The advantages of cluster random sampling are
that it can be used when it is difficult or impossible to select a random sample of
individuals, it is often far easier to implement in schools, and it is frequently less time-

Disadvantages of Cluster Sampling

One main disadvantage of cluster sampling is that is the least representative of
the population out of all the types of probability samples. It is common for individuals
within a cluster to have similar characteristics, so when a researcher uses cluster
sampling, there is a chance that he or she could have an overrepresented or
underrepresented cluster in terms of certain characteristics. This can skew the results of
the study.

A second disadvantage of cluster sampling is that it can have a high sampling

error. This is caused by the limited clusters included in the sample, which leaves a
significant proportion of the population unsampled.

2. Non-probability Sampling

Non-probability sampling is a sampling technique where the samples are gathered in a

process that does not give all individuals in the population equal chances of being selected.
While choosing one of these methods could result in biased data or a limited ability to make
general inferences based on the findings, there are also many situations in which choosing this
kind of sampling technique is the best choice for the particular research question or the stage
of research.

a. Convenince Sampling

A convenience sample is a group of individuals who (conveniently) are available for

study. Thus, a researcher might decide to study two third-grade classes at a nearby elementary
school because the principal asks for help in evaluating the effectiveness of a new spelling
textbook. Here are some examples of convenience samples:

a. To find out how students feel about food service in the student union at an East Coast
university, the manager stands outside the main door of the cafeteria one Monday
morning and interviews the first 50 students who walk out of the cafeteria.
b. A high school counselor interviews all the students who come to him for counseling
about their career plans.
c. A news reporter for a local television station asks passersby on a downtown street
corner their opinions about plans to build a new baseball stadium in a nearby suburb.
d. A university professor compares student reactions to two different textbooks in her
statistics classes.

In each of the above examples, a certain group of people was chosen for study because
they were available. The obvious advantage of this type of sampling is convenience. But just
as obviously, it has a major disadvantage in that the sample will quite likely be biased.

In general, convenience samples cannot be considered representative of any population

and should be avoided if at all possible. Unfortunately, sometimes they are the only option a
researcher has. When such is the case, the researcher should be especially careful to include
information on demographic and other characteristics of the sample studied. The study should
also be replicated, that is, repeated, with a number of similar samples to decrease the likelihood
that the results obtained were simply a one-time occurrence.


M J U O P Easily Accessible


b. Snowball Sampling

A snowball sample is appropriate to use in research when the members of a

population are difficult to locate, such as homeless individuals, migrant workers, or
undocumented immigrants. A snowball sample is one in which the researcher collects
data on the few members of the target population he or she can locate, then asks those
individuals to provide information needed to locate other members of that population
whom they know.

For example, if a researcher wishes to interview undocumented immigrants from

Mexico, she might interview a few undocumented individuals that she knows or can
locate, and would then rely on those subjects to help locate more undocumented
individuals. This process continues until the researcher has all the interviews she needs,
or until all contacts have been exhausted. This is a technique that is useful when
studying a sensitive topic that people might not openly talk about, or if talking about

the issues under investigation could jeopardize their safety. A recommendation from a
friend or acquaintance that the researcher can be trusted works to grow the sample size.

c. Quota Sampling

A quota sample is one in which units are selected into a sample on the basis of
pre-specified characteristics so that the total sample has the same distribution of
characteristics assumed to exist in the population being studied.

For example, if you are a researcher conducting a national quota sample, you
might need to know what proportion of the population is male and what proportion is
female, as well as what proportions of members of each gender fall into different age
categories, race or ethnic categories, and educational categories, among others. The
researcher would then collect a sample with the same proportions as the national

d. Theoritical Sampling

A purposive or judgmental sample is one that is selected based on the

knowledge of a population and the purpose of the study. For example, when
sociologists at the University of San Francisco wanted to study the long-term
emotional and psychological effects of choosing to terminate a pregnancy, they
created a sample that exclusively included women who had had abortions. In this case,
the researchers used a purposive sample because those being interviewed fit a specific
purpose or description that was necessary to conduct the research.

3. Sources of Data in Experimental Reasearch

In experimental research, researcher focuses more on the implementation of a
new instructional strategy or a new educational product by compatring its results with
another group of equal level.

4. Sources of Data in Qualitative Reasearch

In here the sources of data are assumes to be homogeneous. This means that
there is only one kind of the sources, so there is no need to think of representativeness
to be obbtained using random sampling.

In a historical study. For example the researchers need data sources that are
belived to have the authoritativeness of the sources are, the more trusted the sources
are. The authoritativness of the sources is obtained by selecting the subjects based on
the basis of selacting the sources.

5. Sources of Data in Classroom Action Reasearch

In classroom Action Research, a researcher who is also a classroom teacher,
starts the research from problem identification in his or her classroom. From the
classroom instructional problems identified, the researcher tries to develop an
innovative instructional strategy to solve the problem. And its an innovative
instrutional strategy that has proved useful in solving the classroom problem. The
product can be applied by any other classroom teachers who have similar problems.
So, the sources of data are students whose class is having problems to be solves
through the research. There is no need to think of the population and sampling in
Classroom Action Research.

6. Sources of Data in Educational Reasearch and Development

A researcher tries to develop an educational classroom product to be tried out in
certain classrooms which are going to use the products. The try-out aims at getting
feedback for the product revision. The research product then can be used to any other
classrooms similar to the classrooms where the try-out has been conducted. In
educational research and development there is no need to think of population and