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This course offers an introduction to action research design, which consists of quantitative
researches such as experimental research, quasi-experimental research, surveys, correlation
studies, while qualitative researches include ethnographic studies, case studies and
background studies.

Learning Outcomes

a. To explain the concept of basic research, applied research, action and evaluation
b. To review the various types of quantitative and qualitative research design

Concept Model
Types of Research

Introduction to Action
Research Design

Basic Research
Quantitative Research
Applied Research

Action Research

Qualitative Research

Research Evaluation


Types of Research
Basic Research

Basic research is also known as pure research. This research could improve understanding of
the basic principles of the new knowledge, regardless of its long term benefits. It is conducted

when there is a curiosity about an issue. In basic research, theory is applied as a basis to
generate concepts that can be used in solving problems in education.

Applied Research

Applied research is done by a community of researchers through accessing a set of theories,

knowledge, methods and techniques, with the aim of reviewing its effectiveness in solving
practical problems. Applied research provides a re-creation of a theory. For example, the study
of adaptation of various learning styles in the teaching of moral education.

Action Research

Action research is a reflective process that combines action and research to solve a problem
about specific questions, issues or phenomena. It is carried out progressively by individuals or
groups of researchers with the assistance of a professional researcher.

Research Evaluation

Research evaluation is conducted to measure the effectiveness or performance of a project,

programme, campaign or concept. It is performed to determine the project or programme in
accordance with the steps and set objectives.

Activity 1 - Discussion
Identify the types of research and briefly discuss one of them.


Introduction to Different Types of Research Design

This section aims to give exposure to the types of research design that can be carried out to
allow researchers to answer research questions. There are different types of research design.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research is objective and formal and uses statistical methods. Quantitative
research is characterised by the use of large samples, standard measurements, deductive
approach and a structured interview to collect data for testing hypotheses (Marlow, 1993). The experimental study
The experimental study is an experimental design study that is used to gather information,
either with or without full control over the variables. It is characterised by its direct manipulation
or control of the variable (the cause) so that the effects can be seen on other variables
(consequences) of this causal relationship which is important from the perspective of problem
solving. Its importance is described by Van Dalen (1973). As a rule of thumb, a causal
relationship must be submitted to allow science to achieve the goal of explaining, predicting and
controlling behaviour, incidents and events or otherwise.
a. Experimental Method
Experimental method is about using and adapting the methods of scientific research. This
method is the most accurate but rather complicated to be executed. Some of the features of this
method include:

Using the notion that if there are two identical situations in which only one is given a

treatment, then the difference is obtained (if any) due to the treatment given. Thus, the
experimental method involves controlling all factors except the variable that needs to be studied.

This method is suitable to be used in the classroom where some conditions can be

iii. As the subject in the experiment is human, therefore, not all the characteristics can be
controlled. The characteristics such as interest, mental and emotional abilities are difficult to
determine, thus the result of the experiment in educational research is not as accurate as a
scientific experiment.
iv. In classrooms, the researchers have to control factors such as age, achievement,
intelligence, ability to read, social status, race, and so forth. These factors will modify the
characteristics of the subjects in the group and the experimental group.

b. Steps in Research
i. Plan the experiment
(a) Review the reason for carrying out the experiment and state the problem to be studied
(b) Read the literature and the findings of previous studies concerning the problem to be studied
(c) Determine the factors involved in the experiment
(d) Determine the experimental method to be used
(e) Plan the place, time, and instrument to carry out the experiment
(f) Carry out an initial trial
(g) Select subjects required
ii. Conduct the experiment
(a) Control factors that are not included in the experiment
(b) Record the steps taken
(c) Record the results
(d) Classify, analyse and interpret the experimental results
(e) Make a decision
iii. Writing the report
c. Types of Experiments
One method that is commonly used to classify the types of experiments are in accordance with
the accumulation of subjects. There are three types of experiments that can be performed
based on the accumulation of the subjects.
One Group Experiment
In this type of experiment, the treatment effect to be studied is given to one group of subjects
through which the result is determined. Steps to carry out the one group experiment are:
(a) Administer a pre-test
(b) Control all factors except treatment (independent variables)
(c) Implement treatment for a specific period
(d) Administer a post-test to determine the effect of treatment on the independent variables
(e) Discuss the impact of other factors on the dependent variable

The one group experiment is illustrated below:

A = The subject
R1 = pre-test results
R2 = post-test results
X = Treatment
R1 - R2 = Results of treatment
Similarly, if we use other factors (X1, X2, ...)
The value of R2 - R1 (R3 - R2), can be calculated



The advantages of one group experiment method are:

(a) implementation is simple
(b) a rotation group / control group is not needed
However, this method has some drawbacks. Among them are:
(a) the effect of any one method will be carried through from one phase to another phase in the
(b) changes are inherent in the ability to read between the subject from one phase to another
(c) errors occur due to maturity of subject
(d) the units of measurement are not the same
Parallel Group Experiment
In this type of experiment, two or more groups of equivalent or parallel subjects are used. One
of the groups is used as the control group and the other as the experimental group. The
treatment effect to be studied is applied to the experimental group. Differences in the
measurement results for both groups before and after treatment will be determined.


Briefly, the steps for carrying out parallel experiment group are as follows:

A = Control group

B = Experimental group

R1 R = Treatment outcome X
R = Post test Pre test (Control group)
R1= Post test Pre test (Experimental Group)

When more than two parallel groups are used and more than one treatment (X, X1, X2, ...) is
administered, the steps taken to carry out an experiment will be as follows:





R1 R

= Treatment Outcome X

R2 R

= Treatment Outcome X1

R3 R

= Treatment Outcome X2


The first step in this method is to select a parallel group. This step is a little more complex, due
to the existence of individual differences within the group. Although there are several variables
that can be measured objectively such as age, gender, race, physical condition, past
performance, intelligence and so on, there are also other factors that are difficult to measure,
such as reading habits, personal characteristics (such as creativity, curiosity, and so forth).
Therefore, to equate the groups, a number of ways are employed:
i. Randomly choose subjects (choose subjects randomly for each group from a large population)
ii. Choose subjects according to the mean and standard deviation (choose subjects for each
group according to the scores in IQ, age, etc.)
iii. Match suitable pairs, (choose two or three subjects that are quite identical and divide it into

two or three groups)

Experimental Group Rotation
This method uses experimental and control factors on a rotational basis.
Let X be the experiment factor, and Y, the control factor. The following figure illustrates how to
conduct a group rotation experiment.






R + R3 = Treatment outcome X
R1 + R2 = Treatment outcome Y
(R + R3) (RI + R2) = difference of treatment X with Y
This method is able to reduce problems arising from differences in time of implementation and
from groups which are not equivalent. Quasi-experimental study
What is a quasi-experimental study? This study is commonly used to evaluate the effectiveness
of a programme when the respondent cannot be randomly assigned. Two groups are selected
with the following criteria; not balanced and dissimilar in their characteristics.
The quasi-experimental design is used to replace the pure experimental design when in the
process of selecting respondents, a random distribution cannot be carried out by the
researchers (Chua, 2006). This study is conducted on individuals who are vulnerable to external
variables such as gender, age, background, past experiences, existing knowledge, environment
and so forth. All of these factors can affect the results of the experiment.
In other words, researchers are uncertain whether a change in the treatment group respondents
at the end of the experiment was due to the treatment given to them or the external factors. This
study is commonly used by researchers in psychology, sociology and education (Neuman,
2000). For example, a researcher has conducted a study on the effectiveness of counseling

programmes for students with discipline problems in a school. This study uses the method of
selecting specific respondents for its purposive sampling.
This sampling uses behavioural characteristics of discipline problems. The treatment group
comprises students with discipline problems while the control group is a group of students
without discipline problems. Differences between the two groups with regards to gender, race,
age, IQ level, education level, their attitudes and beliefs can be identified. As such, this study
cannot be conducted as a pure experimental study but researchers may choose to conduct a
quasi-experimental study instead.
Quasi-experimental study uses accidental or convenience sampling and purposive sampling. In
convenience sampling, the researchers select any respondents whom they either met
accidentally or the most convenient to them. This kind of accidental sampling can cause
unexpected errors due to their accidental involvement rather than through random sampling
(Chua, 2006).
Purposive sampling in this study is used to get the group of respondents who have certain
characteristics required by the researchers. For example, students with discipline problems.
This sample is not a random sample. There are many different designs of quasi-experimental
studies, but only three designs are well defined and commonly used among researchers in the
field of education. According to Chua (2006), three quasi-experimental studies design that are
commonly used are:
non-equivalent groups pre-post test design
regression-discontinuity design
time series design
The non-equivalent pre-post test groups is the most popular design used in evaluating the
effectiveness of education. This design has two groups of respondents, the treatment and the
control groups. Both groups have rather similar characteristics.
In this study design, test and ANOVA analysis are used to determine the difference between the
two groups of respondents. Non-connected regression design is commonly used in studies
which involve special groups such as evaluating the effectiveness of rehabilitation programmes

and testing the effectiveness of counselling programmes on the attitudes of students with
discipline problems.
Tests using regression analysis
Time series design is a long-term study that requires a lot of time and energy. This design does
not have a control group. Researchers were unable to compare whether a given treatment will
or will not produce the desired change (Mohd. Majid, 2000).
Post-test will be repeated throughout the treatment. For example, a study assessing the
development of KBSR students academic achievement. Survey
Survey is the process of observing human behaviour while doing routine activities in their
natural environment in a particular context. The main instrument used is video recording.
Researchers can collect as much information recorded depending on the researchers needs.
Several researchers will work systematically to analyse and interpret the data collected. Correlational study
Correlational study involves determining the relationship between different variables that exist
in one phenomenon. Researchers will look at different aspects that have been in existence and
determine the relationship between two quantitative variables and how these variables relate to
each other.
There are two types of correlation - positive and negative correlation. In a positive correlation
context, if the value of one variable increases then the second variable also increases. In a
negative correlation, if the value of one variable increases then the second variable decreases,
and if the value of one variable decreases the value of the second variable increases.
2.5.2 Qualitative Research
Qualitative research is a comprehensive study on a particular situation and individual. Data are
collected via observations, interviews, writing a diary and document analysis. Qualitative
research is a study to answer the why and how questions. Researchers will be directly involved
in the research. Qualitative research approach includes case study, ethnography and grounded


theory. Samples used are typically purposive sampling. According to Miles & Huberman (1994),
analysis of data is through data reduction, data display and conclusion. Ethnographic study
The term comes from the Greek word Ethnos which means people, nation or culture. According
to Agar (1986) in Marican (2005), the word "graphy" means an explanation of something.
Ethnography is a field study in the form of observations that are often used in the study of
sociology and anthropology and is referred to as a field research.
According to Marican (2005), ethnography is also considered as one of the most basic research
in social research. Sometimes it is also defined as a written explanation of a culture such as
customs, beliefs and behaviour, based on information gathered from field studies. It is a
descriptive study of the culture, sub-culture, institutions or communities in a society.
The question that is often focussed and presented in ethnographic research evolves around
" what is the culture of the group?". Thus ethnography reflects the daily activities of a society. It
is a portrait or picture of the man. Thus, an ethnographic research study focusses on detailed
and accurate picture, and non-elemental correlation in nature (Marican, 2005).
According to Creswell (2005), ethnography is a form of practical research to study a group of
people such as education, beliefs, behaviour and language.
Ethnographic research is a form of qualitative research that is used to describe, analyse and
interpret the types of culture-sharing of a group such as their behaviour, beliefs, language,
economy, political structure, interaction, lifestyle in an actual context. In order to understand the
culture-sharing, a researcher needs to spend time on-site to interview, monitor and document
what he observes and experiences.
A long period of time is needed to record the data in detail. Ethnographic study is a branch of
anthropology that connects and explains explicitly the human culture. It started in late 19th and
early 20th century, and studies using ethnographic methods was first published in the 1920s
and 1930s by the "Chicago Scholl of Sociology" (Pole & Morrison, 2003).


Around the 1950s, ethnographic study was still new and according to Hammersly (1998), in the
1960s, studies using anthropological and sociological approach have reduced in numbers but
studies using ethnographic approach grew. Although its use was still limited, it continued to grow
in the 1980s. In the early 1980s, ethnographers identified and focussed only on group culture,
administered monitoring, data analysis and writing reports on studies carried out (Creswell,
An ethnographic study describes and analyses something or part of the culture and the
community to identify and describe the beliefs and practices of the respondents. Ethnographic
studies also need to examine two groups of respondents and where they interact
simultaneously. Topics in ethnographic research is not specifically stated in the beginning of the
study. Studies are usually conducted on a small scale with a limited number of respondents and
in the context of a small study. Ethnographic researchers must conduct research in the natural
environment of the respondents during a specific time period when collecting data. Sanders
(2004), states that ethnography should show a true representation of the groups culture that is
being studied.
Social researchers use ethnographic methods to further understand the cultural and social
relationship through accurate and practical interpretation. Effectiveness of ethnographic studies
is not dependent on the researcher's perspective, but to actual findings of the data.
Ethnography was originally used in the anthropological discipline by spending time with the
locals to make observations on their life and practices. Usually, traditional ethnographic studies
are done individually and are time consuming which can take from several months to years to
complete. Ethnographic application research method takes the user to view the design and
development of new products and services to enhance production. Ethnographic application by
a small group is usually carried out in a very short time, such as in a few days to several
months. Marican (2005). Case Study
Case study is a study that includes research in descriptive methods. Intensive and detailed
study by researchers is carried out on a small social unit such as an individual, a family, a class,
an institution, that is a branch of the Institute of Teacher Education or a society. For example,
studies on the reaction of lecturers and students of the class of electronic learning (e-learning).


A detailed case study also is carried out on a programme, an event, an activity, and one group
at a time. Global History
Historical study is obtained by researchers through information, data, and knowledge by
examining issues or events that have occurred. Through data analysis and detailed historical
information, researchers can determine to a certain extent the cause-effect relationships.
Researchers can also help teachers to manage and use the findings from research in order to
avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly.

Activity 2 - Discussion
What is the most appropriate research design to be used in order to compare two methods of
teaching grammar?
OLL question
Create a table to show the steps of conducting a research.