CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION TO
QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH
1

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RESEARCH PARADIGMS

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PARADIGM
“a philosophical and theoretical framework of a
scientific school or discipline within which theories,
laws, and generalizations and the experiments
performed in support of them are formulated”
Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2007)
 “the set of common beliefs and agreements shared
between scientists about how problems should be
understood and addressed” (Kuhn, 1962)

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ISSUES OF BELIEF – IN EXAMINING
HUMAN BEHAVIOR

Scientific Approach

Quantitative
 Scientific traditions of
induction and deduction

Humanistic Approach

Qualitative
 Humanistic traditions

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The Philosophical Issues of:

Ontology: ways of constructing reality, “how things really are” and “how
things really work”.. Denzin and Lincoln, (1998; 201)
Epistemology: different forms of knowledge of that reality, what nature of
relationship exists between the inquirer and the inquired? How do we
know?
Methodology: What tools do we use to know that reality?

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MEANING
ONTOLOGY AND
EPISTEMOLOGY
 If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to
hear it, did it really fall? Or did this so called tree
really exist?

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One group may answer it:
 The

tree does not exist until it is perceived by a human
mind and sound does not exist unless senses can pick it up
and mind put a meaning to it.

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Another group may answer it:
 Of

course the tree exist and a human does not have to
perceived it for it to exist because we believe that a tree
can make sound even tho we do not hear it.
 We do not have to perceive something to believe it as
indirect evidence will do esp in a mediated world ( TV
shows us the tree and the sound it made when it fell)

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ONTOLOGY
The first aspect of ontology we discuss is
objectivism. This portrays the position that social
entities exist in reality external to social actors
concerned with their existence.
 The second aspect, subjectivism holds that social
phenomena are created from the perceptions and
consequent actions of those social actors
concerned with their existence

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EPISTEMOLOGY

It concerns what constitutes acceptable knowledge in
a field of study.
Closely coupled with ontology and its consideration of
what constitutes reality, epistemology considers views
about the most appropriate ways of enquiring into the
nature of the world (Easterby-Smith, Thorpe and
Jackson, 2008) and ‘what is knowledge and what are
the sources and limits of knowledge’ (Eriksson and
Kovalainen, 2008). Questions of epistemology begin to
consider the research method, and Eriksson and
Kovalainen go on to discuss how epistemology defines
how knowledge can be produced and argued for.

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Research Paradigm

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RESEARCH PARADIGMS

Positivism - Quantitative ~ discovery
of the laws that govern behavior

Constructivist - Qualitative ~
understandings from an insider perspective

Critical - Postmodern ~ Investigate and
expose the power relationships

Pragmatic - interventions, interactions
and their effect in multiple contexts
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PARADIGM 1
POSITIVISM QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH
Ontology: There is an objective reality and we can
understand it and it through the laws by which it is
governed.
 Epistemology: employs a scientific discourse derived
from the epistemologies of positivism and realism.
 Method: Experimental, Deduction,

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“those who are seeking the strict way of
truth should not trouble themselves about
any object concerning which they cannot
have a certainty equal to arithmetic or
geometrical demonstration”
 (Rene

Descartes)

Inordinate support and faith in
randomized controlled studies

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TYPICAL POSITIVIST RESEARCH
QUESTION:
What?
 How much?
 Relationship between? Or Causes this effect?
 Best answered with numerical precision
 Often formulated as hypotheses

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PARADIGM 2
INTERPRETIVIST OR
CONSTRUCTIVIST
PARADIGM
 Many different varieties

Generally answer the question ‘why’ rather then
‘what’, ‘when’ or ‘how much’?
 Presents special challenges in distributed contexts due
to distance between participants and researchers
 Currently most common type of DE research (Rourke
& Szabo, 2002)

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INTERPRETIVIST PARADIGM
Ontology: World and knowledge created by
social and contextual understanding.
 Epistemology: How do we come to understand a
unique person’s worldview
 Methodology: Qualitative methods – narrative,
interviews, observations, ethnography, case
study, phenomenology etc.

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Dora Maar by Picasso
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Picasso: Mother with Dead Child II,
Postscript to Guernica
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TYPICAL INTERPRETIVE RESEARCH
QUESTION
Why?
 How does subject understand ?
 What is the “lived experience”?
 What meaning does the artifact or intervention
have?

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SUMMARY
Paradigm

Ontology

Epistemolo
gy

Question

Hidden rules
govern
teaching and
learning
process

Focus on
reliable and
valid tools to
undercover
rules

What works?

Quantitative

Interpretive/c Reality is
onstructivist created by
individuals in
groups

Discover the
underlying
meaning of
events and
activities

Why do you
act this way?

Qualitative

Critical

Society is rife
with
inequalities
and injustice

Helping
uncover
injustice and
empowering
citizens

How can I
change this
situation?

Ideological
review,
Civil actions

Pragmatic

Truth is what
is useful

The best
Will this
Mixed
method is
intervention
Methods,
one that
improve
Design-Based
solves© 2006 by The
learning?
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Positivism

Method

INTRODUCTION TO
QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH
 Quantity

is the unit of analysis

 Amounts
 Frequencies
 Degrees
 Values
 Intensity

 Uses

statistics for greater precision and
objectivity

 Based

on the deductive model

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BASIC COMPARISON BETWEEN
QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE

23

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SCIENTIFIC ATTITUDES
Empirical Verification through observation or
experimentation
 Ruling out simple explanations prior to adopting
complex ones
 Cause-Effect
 Probability of response
 Replication of response

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SIX TYPES
Experimental
 Survey
 Meta-Analysis
 Quantitative Case Study
 Longitudinal

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EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH
Compare two or more groups that are similar
except for one factor or variable
 Statistical analysis of data
 Conditions are highly controlled; variables are
manipulated by the researcher
“The effects of” “The influence of…”

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SURVEY RESEARCH
Use set of predetermined questions
 Collect answers from representative sample
 Answers are categorized and analyzed so
tendencies can be discerned

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META-ANALYSIS
Numerous experimental studies with reported
statistical analysis are compared
 Distinguishes trends
 Effect size (the influence of the independent
variable on the dependent variable) can be
compared

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CASE STUDY
Also called single case design
 Describes numerically a specific case (can be
group or individual)
 May test or generate hypotheses
 Results often presented with tables and graphs

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LONGITUDINAL
Individual or group research conducted across
time
 Few examples in MT literature
 Subject attrition is major problem
 Preserving confidentiality is also difficult
 Specific standardized tools may change over time

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MODEL FOR CONCEPTUALIZING
QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH
 Overall

purpose or
objective

 Research

literature

 Research

questions
and hypotheses

 Selecting

appropriate methods

 Validity

and
reliability of the
data

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