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Class,

Back in Week 2 I provided a video that described several key resources, which I prepared for the
class, to guide your learning:
Weekly handouts or mini lectures related to the various sections of the Prospectus;
Rubrics for the Weeks 2, 3, and 4 DQs containing the ideal responses and guidance for
preparing several sections of the Prospectus
Tools or job aids to enhance your understanding of key concepts
(e.g. Alignment Video) or enhance your skills (Search tips and tricks).
How are you "putting it together" with these resources? Are there other foundational
resources you are using to guide your preparation of the Prospectus?
Dr. Ken
Choosing the Appropriate Research Method and Research

Overview
This week we will switch our attention to the different types of research methods and research
designs that are commonly used in social science research. This tips sheet is not meant to
duplicate information about these research methods and research designs available in research
textbooks. Instead, the focus is on helping you to differentiate between different methods and
designs, recognize the language of research of various approaches, and understand how to
determine which method and design is appropriate to a given research study. In this set of notes,
we will discuss:
What is research method, what is research design, what is research methodology?
What are the major differences between qualitative and quantitative research?
What is a mixed method study? What is it not? Should I consider a mixed method study?
How do I choose an appropriate research method?
What are the major qualitative research designs?
What are the major quantitative research designs?
What are the major mixed method designs?
How do I choose an appropriate research design?

Why is it important to develop expertise in applying the design with


fidelity? Why are research textbooks just a starting point? Why is it
important to read major and foundational works?

What is Research Method, What is Research Design, What is


Research Methodology?
These terms are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion among students and others who
read their proposals. Usage of these terms may also differ by discipline, leading to further
confusion. Journal articles, proposals, and dissertations often include a section or chapter with
the title or heading of Method, in which the methodological approach is described.
In this tile, we will distinguish between:
Research method the major research approach;
Research design the specific research approach within the major research method; and
Research methodology the elements of the research plan that include the population and
sampling, ethical concerns, instrumentation, and data collection and analysis.
Research method pertains to the two major approaches to research qualitative or quantitative.
Most studies involve application of a single research method, either qualitative or quantitative.
We will discuss differences between these two major research methods in Tile 3.
Some studies involve a mixed method, combining two research phases, one qualitative and one
quantitative, reflecting the two major methods.
Whereas the research method reflects the major approach to conceptualizing and carrying out the
research, research design pertains to the specific research framework to be applied to planning
and implementing a given research study within that research method. Qualitative research
designs reflect the nature of qualitative inquiry which is an in-depth exploration of a
phenomenon or situation with a small sample and narrative, visual, or auditory data, whereas
quantitative research designs reflect the nature of quantitative investigation which is a
statistical examination of variables with a large sample and numeric data. Mixed method designs
reflect the natures of both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Research methodology refers to the procedures, techniques, and tools to be used to implement
the research plan. For example, research methodology includes how the population will be
accessed and the sampling approach. Research methodology includes processes and procedures
for informed consent and protecting participants anonymity and confidentiality. It includes
instrumentation, such as interview guides, observation protocols, field notes, surveys, assessment
instruments, and tests. It also includes data collection and analysis techniques and procedures to
address qualitative and quantitative validity concerns. The choice of research method and
research design will influence which techniques and procedures are appropriate to your study.
The following table displays examples of different research designs that correspond to the major
research methods and a mixed method study.
Research method and its language

Research design

Qualitative - inquire, explore, interpret,


understand, rich, detailed, in-depth
Quantitative investigate, measure, compare,
correlate, test, accept, reject
Mixed combination of language of both
major research methods

Phenomenology, case study, grounded theory,


narrative inquiry, Delphi method, ethnography
Experiments and quasiexperiments, ex post
facto, descriptive correlational
Explanatory, exploratory, triangulation

The following table displays examples of different research methodology that correspond to the
major research methods and a mixed method study. The appropriateness of the different
methodological options will vary according to the specific research design you select for your
study.
Research method

Research methodology

Qualitative

Purposive sampling, individual interviews or focus groups (as


appropriate to the research design), observations, thematic
coding, narrative analysis
Random sampling, random assignment, tests, questionnaires,
pilot tests, pilot tests to assess instrument reliability and
validity, statistical analysis, hypothesis testing
Qualitative methodology in qualitative phase, quantitative
methodology in quantitative phase

Quantitative

Mixed combination of both


major research methods

What are the Major Differences Between Quantitative and


Qualitative Research?
The two major research methods, qualitative and quantitative differ in fundamental ways.
Qualitative research is typically inductive. In qualitative studies, the goal is to reveal deep
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Qualitative research is bottom up. It involves generating new knowledge that may be used to
generate hypotheses for subsequent research. Qualitative data may be narrative, auditory, or
visual. The researcher is an instrument in data collection and analysis in qualitative research.
Qualitative research is subjective and bias is an important threat.
Take a look at the following abstract from a qualitative study published in a peer-reviewed
journal. The abstract reflects the inductive nature of qualitative research, which served to reveal
deep understanding about the phenomenon of administrator scholarship through collection and
thematic and interpretive analysis of narrative interview data from a small sample of participants.
Sidebar: Abstract from a qualitative study
This phenomenological hermeneutic study explored the meaning found in the lived experience of
producing scholarship for five higher education administrators from within the major areas of
administration in higher educationacademic affairs, business affairs, and student affairsfrom
a single research university. In the historical and recent scholarship about the three fields of
higher education, one issue that has not been addressed is the meaning found in producing
scholarship as an administrator. Thus, the challenges and rewards of producing scholarship as a
practicing administrator, creating the first step toward a possible new era in the practice of
scholarship on college campuses, were explored. Individual semistructured interviews were the
primary source of data, and the authors used a threestep data analysis process to develop both an
understanding of what producing scholarship means for each participant and an interpretation of
the meaning of producing scholarship as a higher education administrator. Across all the lived
experiences of the various scholarly endeavors, each administrator was more connected to
education and contributed more to the educational environment by participating in scholarly
activities. The administrators were found to be more connected to the people within the
university, their own field of practice, and with the university itself.
Coe, A. (2013). Scholarship in administration: Connecting with the university culture. Journal of
Psychological Issues in Organizational Culture.

Quantitative research is typically deductive. In quantitative studies, the goal is typically to


determine whether statistical support exists for the hypothesized relationship, difference, or
effect. Quantitative research is top down. It begins with a generalization or general hypothesis
based on existing theory and knowledge. Variables are measured objectively through Collection
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are analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics and hypothesis are tested in order to add
to the body of evidence.
Take a look at the following abstract from a quantitative study published in a peer-reviewed
journal. The abstract reflects the deductive nature of quantitative research, which served to
identify significant differences between career colleges and public/not-for-profit colleges based
on collection and statistical analysis of publicly available numeric data on a large sample of
institutions, states, and counties.
Sidebar: Abstract from a Quantitative Study
Career colleges may have an important role in addressing the educational needs of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in higher education, such as African Americans, Hispanics,
and Native Americans/Alaskan Natives. This study focused on examining the extent to which
career colleges meet the needs of these ethnic racial and minority students in states with the
highest educational needs through analysis of publicly available data from NCHEMS, the
Educational Needs Index, the American Community Survey, and College Navigator (IPEDS) on
a sample of 114 forprofit career colleges and 40 public/not-for-profit colleges. Racial/ethnic
categories corresponded to categories reported in the IPEDS dataset. Career colleges outperformed other colleges in graduating students from these racial and ethnic minority
backgrounds. Career colleges successful at enrolling, retaining, and/or graduating students from
one racial or ethnic minority group appear to benefit students who are members of other racial or
ethnic minority groups. Students may see that members of another racial or ethnic minority
group can succeed in higher education and think that they can succeed, too. The results suggest
narrowly focused diversity efforts on specific racial or ethnic student subpopulations may derive
benefit across multiple subpopulations of students from racial and ethnic minority groups.

Heitner, K. L., & Sherman, K. C. (2011). The role of career colleges: Implications for serving
racial and ethnic minority students. Journal of Psychological Issues in Organizational Culture,
2(3), 4469.doi:10.1002/jpoc.20073

The following table displays a comparison of the characteristics of qualitative and quantitative
research.
Characteristic Qualitative

Characteristic Qualitative

Characteristic Qualitative

Approach
Role of theory

Inductive
Theory building or

Deductive
Theory-driven

Language of research

Explore, interpret,
experiences, cases,
phenomena, understand,
reveal meaning

Examine, variables, factors,


measure, compare, correlate,
test, effect, between group,
within group, repeated
measures

Role of hypotheses

Hypothesis generation for


future research
Subjective researcher as
instrument

Hypothesis testing

Instrumentation

Interview guides, observation


protocols

Questionnaires, surveys, tests

Units of interest

Phenomena, situations, cases,


experiences

Operationally defined and


measureable independent and
dependent or predictor and
criterion variables

Data

Narrative, visual, auditory

Numeric

Sampling

Non-probability to support
selection of participants with
pertinent experience with the
phenomenon or situation.

Probability (ideally) to
support representativeness of
the population and
generalizability

Role of researcher

Objective

Characteristic Qualitative

Characteristic Qualitative

Characteristic Qualitative

Sample size

Small N to support in-depth


analysis and interpretation

Large N to support statistical


analysis

Data analysis

Patterns, themes,
interpretation, triangulation,
thick description

Descriptive and inferential


statistics

Validity and reliability

Trustworthiness, credibility,
confirmability, transferability,
dependability.

Internal validity, external


validity (generalizability),
reliability

Researcher bias

Impact of researcher bias can


be minimized
methodologically but cannot
be eliminated

Can be controlled

What is a Mixed Method Study? What is it not?


Students are often confused as to what makes a study mixed method, and whether or not
including any quantitative data in a qualitative study makes the research method mixed. In this
tile, we will distinguish between
a mixed method study
a study that combines two research phases, each of which could be conducted separately as
a full-scale study
and a qualitative study with mixed data
A mixed method study is: a single research study combining quantitative and qualitative
phases, either simultaneous or sequential. The research method is mixed and the research design
is the type of mixed method. In a study with a mixed research method, both the quantitative and
the qualitative phases are necessary to generate answers to the research questions. Here is an
example:
Jose wants to study the perceived effects of deployment on military families and how they differ
based on demographic characteristics, such as age, gender, educational level, etc. He is interested
not only in identifying and comparing the effects, but understanding how these effects manifest
differently based on demographics. A quantitative study would support comparison of perceived

effect by demographic variables, but not support exploring in-depth the nature of these effects. A
qualitative study would support in-depth exploration of the nature of these effects, but not
support statistical comparisons between groups based on demographic variables. Jose can
accomplish both research objectives by conducting a mixed method study with a quantitative
phase to examine perceived effects by demographic variables with a large sample, followed by a
qualitative phase in which he can explore in-depth with a small sample the nature of these
perceived effects and their differences that were revealed in the quantitative phase.
A mixed method study is not: two studies presented together that could be conducted
independently as full-scale studies, one with a quantitative method and quantitative type of
design, and the other with a qualitative method and qualitative type of design.
Dmitri wants to study what its like to be a female coach of a mens sports team or a male coach
of a womens sports teams and the meaning that these nontraditional coaches attach to their
ability to be successful. Dmitri is also interested in understanding if the size of the college, the
number of sports teams at the college, the division level of the team, the teams budget, and the
teams average number of wins for the last 10 years are predictive of the number of
nontraditional coaches at the college. While these two research objectives are about a related
topic, they reflect two independent studies, rather than two interdependent phases of a single
study. Dmitri could conduct a qualitative phenomenological study to understand its like to be a
female coach of a mens sports team or a male coach of a womens sports teams and the meaning
that these nontraditional coaches attach to their ability to be successful. Dmitri could conduct a
separate quantitative descriptive correlational study to examine the predictive relationship
between the team and college characteristics and the number of nontraditional coaches.

A mixed method study is not: any study with mixed data. Many qualitative studies involve a
mixture of quantitative and qualitative data. For example, researchers will typically collect
demographic data from participants in qualitative studies in order to describe the sample using
descriptive statistics. Content analysis is often used in qualitative studies to analyze narrative
data. In Delphi studies, surveys with closed-ended questions to be rated on a scale are frequently
used to reach agreement or consensus among the study panelists. You may be wondering why
these studies are not mixed method. The reason is that the study research objectives and research
questions are entirely qualitative. Any numeric data and descriptive statistics are a tool to
describe the sample, analyze narrative data, or in the case of a Delphi study, to identify
agreement. The use of quantitative data and techniques aids in answering the qualitative research
questions.

How do I Choose an Appropriate Research Method?


The choice of research method is guided by the nature of the new knowledge you want to
generate to address the research problem and the knowledge gap, your research objectives, and
the focus and form of your research questions. Personal preference, fear of statistics, and other
idiosyncratic reasons should not drive the choice of research method. The nature and
characteristics of qualitative or quantitative research will align with different types of research
goals and objectives.
If you want to generate a rich, deep understanding of a situation or phenomenon, then a
qualitative research method is appropriate to achieve that goal.
Sergei is interested in understanding how immigrants adapt to the language demands of their
new country, based on a specific problem of a high incidence of communication problems
impeding their assimilation into work or school. A search of the peer-reviewed research
literature has revealed few studies on immigrants struggles to communicate in their new
language. Sergeis research objective is to understand what its like to be a Russian
immigrant trying to communicate in English. A qualitative method would be appropriate.
In contrast, if you want to measure constructs and examine variables and their relationships,
comparisons, or cause and effect, then a quantitative method is appropriate.
Maribel identified a specific problem of obsessive behaviors interfering with job
performance and wants to determine how a therapeutic intervention might affect obsessive
behaviors. Maribel defined her research objective as to determine if a new type of group
therapy decreases the frequency of obsessive behaviors. She is interested in examining the
frequency of obsessive behaviors before and after the intervention. A quantitative method
would be appropriate.
The nature of the research questions to be answered will influence which research method is
most appropriate for a given study. Descriptive research questions that begin with how or why
are answered through collecting and analyzing qualitative data to support in-depth exploration of
phenomena or situations. Research questions focused on predictive outcomes are also answered
through collecting and analyzing qualitative data to support in-depth exploration of what might
occur. All of these types of research questions are consistent with qualitative inquiry. Descriptive
research questions that begin with what and are focused on understanding a situation or
phenomenon in-depth are also answered through collecting and analyzing qualitative data.
Sergeis research questions are: What is it like to be a Russian immigrant who is trying to
communicate in the language of his or her new country? How do Russian immigrants
experience their challenges in learning to communicate in English? How do Russian
immigrants experience their successes in learning to communicate in English? These
research questions must be addressed through qualitative inquiry.

Other descriptive research questions that begin with what but are focused on describing the
distribution of variables or factors across a population are answered through quantitative research
that entails collecting and analyzing numeric data on the variables of interest.
Sasha is interested in describing psychological barriers to sports performance. His first
research question is: What are the most frequent psychological barriers soccer players
identify in trying to break out of a scoring slump? Sasha is also interested in gender
differences in psychological barriers to sports performance and differences in perceived
barriers by the teams division level.
Descriptive research questions that are relational, focused on examining relationships,
differences, or cause and effect, are answered through quantitative research that involves
collecting and analyzing numeric data to measure variables and test hypotheses.
Sashas second research question pertains to differences in perceived barriers by gender, and
his third research questions pertaining to perceived differences by division level. Maribels
research question is: What effect, if any, does participating in a new group therapy approach
have on the participants frequency of obsessive behaviors? Johns research questions are:
What is the relationship between spirituality and job satisfaction for employees in the
nonprofit sector? To what extent is the spirituality of nonprofit employees predictive of job
satisfaction? These research questions must be addressed through quantitative investigation.
Research Questions and Research Methods
Type of RQ

Example of Research
Question

Research Method

Descriptive How

How do a panel of experts on


diversity define what
constitutes success in terms of
diversity work in
organizations?

Qualitative

Descriptive Why

Why are some college


professors reluctant to
incorporate m-learning
technologies into their lesson
plans?

Qualitative

Type of RQ

Example of Research
Question

Research Method

Future oriented

If the county institutes a new


program or services for
inmates, how might it reduce
recidivism among people who
are serving their first jail
term?

Qualitative

What might be potential


solutions to reduce the
recidivism rate of first time
non-violent juvenile
offenders?
Descriptive What

Descriptive What

Descriptive Relational
(associative)

What are the various ways


that managers support the
upward mobility of female
leaders in non-traditional
fields?
What is the meaning that
college athletes who serve as
team captain attach to their
leadership role and the
satisfaction they derive from
leading their teammates?
What are the most frequently
identified barriers to
engaging disenfranchised
youth and their parents in
school?
What is the relationship
between optimism and postretirement satisfaction? What
is the relationship between
exercise and postretirement
satisfaction? To what extent
do optimism and exercise
predict postretirement
satisfaction?

Qualitative

Quantitative

Quantitative

Type of RQ

Example of Research
Question

Research Method

Descriptive Relational
(comparative)

What differences, if any, exist


between male and female
soccer players perceived
psychological barriers in
trying to break out of a
scoring slump?

Qualitative

Descriptive -Causal

What is the effect of a life


skills curriculum on
recidivism rates of
juvenilejustice system
involved youth?

Qualitative

Should I Consider a Mixed Method Study?


You should consider a mixed method study only if both phases quantitative and qualitative are clearly needed in order to achieve the research objectives and answer the research questions.
A mixed method study is a single research study combining quantitative and qualitative phases,
either simultaneous or sequential. In a study with a mixed research method, both the quantitative
and the qualitative phases are necessary to generate answers to the research questions.
What are the Major Qualitative Research Designs?
This section introduces major qualitative research designs and their characteristics, but is not
designed to be an exhaustive or thorough explanation of these designs. Consider this introduction
a starting point for determining which type of design is best suited to your qualitative research
objectives and research questions. For example, phenomenological designs, Delphi studies, and
case study designs may take many different forms. You should read more about the different
types and subtypes of qualitative research designs in your research textbooks, and then read
major sources in that type of research design.
Here is a brief overview of the different types of qualitative research designs:
Phenomenological: Phenomenological inquiry is an explicit attempt to understand and interpret
lived experiences of a shared central phenomenon and the meaning that participants attach to
them. Phenomenological research focuses on revealing what its like to be someone who has
experienced the phenomenon first-hand, and discovering the meaning that is salient for the
participants. Participants in phenomenological research are often considered co-researchers, as

they are actively involved in conveying and interpreting the meaning of their experiences.
Phenomenological inquiry is inwardly focused.
Phenomenological: Twenty team captains in basketball were interviewed to understand the
meaning that college athletes attach to their leadership role and the satisfaction they derive from
leading their teammates.
Case study research: Case study designs are used to describe and understand the characteristics
of a bounded situation through collection, analysis, and triangulation of multiple data sources
within and across the case or cases and the units of analysis. Case study research is externally
focused.
Case study: Thirty faculty members from business, sociology, chemistry, and art history at a
state university were observed and interviewed about their use of m-learning technologies in
their introductory courses to describe and understand the barriers, challenges, and successes.
Narrative inquiry: Narrative inquiry is an approach to understanding and interpreting peoples
lives and experiences through constructing their stories. Participants often co-construct their
stories with the researcher.
Narrative inquiry: new clinical psychologists one-year postdoctorate were interviewed to
understand their experiences and construct stories about what its like to make the transition
from clinical trainee to clinician.
Grounded theory: Grounded theory research is explicitly directed toward generating a new
theory, grounded in the data, to explain a situation or phenomenon. The theory emerges through
an iterative process of data coding and theory building.
Grounded theory: Fifteen leaders of charter schools in Denver were interviewed to generate a
theory of educational leadership in the charter school setting.
Delphi studies: Delphi studies are future-oriented. They involve multiple rounds of data
collection and analysis from a panel of stakeholders who have a strong interest and some
expertise in the topic. The outcome is consensus among the panelists.
Delphi method: three rounds of data collection and analysis were used to generate consensus
among experts in entrepreneurship about what constitutes best practices for entrepreneurship
education in the community college environment.
Ethnography: Ethnographic research involves observation and detailed note taking of a groups
interactions and behaviors over time. The goal is to generate a thick, rich description of the group
and its culture.

Ethnography: A group of international graduate students were observed for a semester in the
campus dining hall to generate rich, thick description and understanding of their
interpersonal communication patterns.
The following table displays these qualitative designs, their use, characteristics, and
language.
Design

Use

Characteristics and
language

Phenomenological

To understand and interpret


lived experiences of a shared
central phenomenon and the
meaning that participants
attach to them

Internal focus, explicit goal of


revealing what its like to be
someone who has experienced
the phenomenon first-hand,
discovering salient meaning
for participants,
understanding and
interpreting, participants as
co-researchers, composite
experiences, units of meaning.

Case study research

To describe and understand


the characteristics of a
bounded situation

External focus, cases and


units of analysis. Multiple
data sources, such as
interviews, observations, field
notes, and documents.
Analyzing data within and
across sources and cases.
Triangulation.

Narrative inquiry

To understand and interpret


peoples lives and experiences
through constructing their
stories.

Constructing stories to
understand human
experiences, Sources include
oral reports or interviews,
field notes, letters, journals,
autobiographies, and other
documents.

Design

Use

Characteristics and
language

Grounded theory

To generate a theory,
grounded in the data, to
explain a situation or
phenomenon

Explicit goal of building a


theory, grounded in the data,
through an iterative process of
coding and theory generation.
Constant comparative analysis
using open, axial, and
selective coding.

Delphi method

To generate consensus or
identify solutions based on the
opinions of a panel of expert
stakeholders

Future-oriented, panel of
expert stakeholders, multiple
rounds of data collection and
analysis to build agreement
and reach consensus.

Ethnography

Study of a group over time to


generate deep and broad
understanding of the group or
its culture.

Observation, participant
observation, field notes, thick
description.

What are the Major Quantitative Research Designs?


This section introduces major quantitative research designs and their characteristics, but is not
designed to be an exhaustive or thorough explanation of these designs. Consider this introduction
a starting point for determining which type of design is best suited to your quantitative research
objectives and research questions. For example, experiments and quasi-experiments may take
many different forms. You should read more about the different types and subtypes of
quantitative research designs in your research textbooks, and then read major sources in that type
of research design.
Here is a brief overview of the different types of quantitative research designs.
Experimental designs: A true experiment involves introduction of a treatment or intervention and
examination of the effect of that treatment on one or more outcome variables. The researcher
manipulates the independent variable by introducing the treatment, meaning that the dependent
variable is under the researchers control. Subjects are randomly assigned into the treatment
group or the control group, which means that any subject selected for the study has an equal
chance of being assigned to receive the treatment or be placed into the control group. Random
selection of subjects helps to control for the effect of individual differences on outcomes.

True experiment: Two-hundred fifty prison guards were randomly assigned, by picking
employee numbers at random by a computer, to attend either spirituality training (the
treatment group) or more traditional professional development training (the control group) to
examine the effect on the perceived quality of their relationships with other prison staff and
inmates.
A quasi-experiment is very similar to a true experiment, except that random assignment is not
possible.
Quasi-experiment: Five hundred employees were surveyed to rate the cultural responsiveness
of middle managers at a U.S. corporation who attended diversity training in person or online.
All managers assigned to a distributed work environment attended the online training, and all
managers who work on site attended the training onsite.
Feasibility is a critically important issue when proposing an experimental design. Ability to
access to the population, recruit willing subjects, and implement the intervention are
requirements that cannot be ignored. If you are thinking of conducting an experiment or a quasiexperiment, you must consider feasibility at the outset. (See Chapter 9, A Foot in the Door, for
more discussions about access.)
Ex post facto (causal comparative) design: An ex post facto study involves looking backward in
time, after the fact, to find explanations for possible current differences between groups based on
pre-existing characteristics.
Ex post facto: Job engagement and levels of burnout were compared for nurses belonging to
three generational cohorts Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y.
Descriptive correlational design: A descriptive correlational design involves examining
association or predictive relationships between variables. The goal is to explain the extent to
which changes in one or more variables are associated with or predict changes in other variables,
and the amount of variability explained by the relationship. Correlation does not imply causality.
Descriptive correlational: The relationship between intellectual curiosity, level of exercise,
and the incidence of Alzheimers disease was examined in a sample of 400 seniors living in
retirement communities in Florida.

The following table displays these quantitative designs, their use, characteristics, and language.
Design

Use

Characteristics and
language

Experiment

To examine the effect of an


intervention or treatment

Manipulation of the
independent variable to
examine the effect of the
independent on the dependent
variable. Random assignment,
treatment and control groups,
cause and effect, betweengroup or within-group
comparisons, pre-tests and
posttests

Quasiexperiment

To examine the effect of an


intervention or treatment
when random assignment is
not possible

Manipulation of the
independent variable to
examine the effect of the
independent on the dependent
variable, no random
assignment, treatment and
control groups, cause and
effect, between-group or
within-group comparisons,
pre-tests and posttests

Design

Use

Characteristics and
language

Ex post facto (causal


comparative)

To look back in time after the


fact to search for explanations
for current differences
between groups

Between-group comparisons
of the dependent variable
based on levels of the
independent variable, with no
manipulation of the
independent variable. Levels
of the independent variable
reflect pre-existing, naturally
occurring (not manipulated)
differences.

Descriptive correlational

To examine association and


predictive relationships
between variables.

Correlation, regression,
prediction, predictor and
criterion variables, strength,
direction, correlation
coefficient, coefficient of
determination, proportion of
variability

What are the Major Types of Mixed Method Studies?


This section introduces different mixed method research designs and their characteristics, but is
not designed to be an exhaustive or thorough explanation of these designs. Consider this
introduction a starting point for determining which type of mixed method design is best suited to
your mixed research objectives and research questions. You should read more about the different
types and subtypes of mixed method research designs in your research textbooks, and then read
major sources in that type of research design.
Explanatory: An explanatory mixed method study is a sequential study with a quantitative phase
of data collection and analysis followed by a qualitative phase of data collection and analysis for
the purpose of exploring the quantitative results in depth with a small sample. The qualitative
phase supports further exploration of the meaning of the quantitative findings, deepening the
understanding of the numeric data and addressing the limitation of inferring meaning from
numeric data.
Explanatory: One hundred college athletes complete a survey on their study habits during
their sports season. The results were explored in depth with a subsample of 20 college

athletes to understand more about how the student athletes balance school work with their
athletic pursuits.
Exploratory: An exploratory mixed method study is a sequential study with a qualitative phase
that is necessary to identify the variables for the quantitative phase. An exploratory mixed
method is useful when insufficient information exists about what variables should be measured
and what relationships or comparisons should be tested. The qualitative results inform the
quantitative phase in terms of the questions to be asked and the variables of interest.
Exploratory: Ten adults who were chronically truant in high school are interviewed to
identify the challenges and barriers they identified in attending school. The results were used
to create a survey that was administered to 100 chronically truant youth attending a courtordered therapeutic intervention to determine the extent of these challenges and barriers and
generalize the results.
Triangulation: A triangulation mixed method study combines the strengths and minimize the
limitations of using either a qualitative or quantitative method alone. Qualitative and quantitative
data are collected and analyzed simultaneously, either from a single sample or two different
samples, and the results are triangulated to examine convergence and divergence.
Triangulation: Two hundred students were surveyed about their attitudes toward and use of
m-learning technology in their classes. Twenty faculty were interviewed about their
questions and concerns about incorporating m-learning technology in their courses. The
results were triangulated to identify commonalities in barriers, challenges, and opportunities.

The following table displays these mixed method designs, their use, characteristics, and
language.
Design

Use

Characteristics and
language

Explanatory

To explore quantitative
findings in depth through
subsequent analysis of
qualitative data within the
same study.

Sequential, quantitative phase


then qualitative phase.
Qualitative exploration of
quantitative findings.

Exploratory

To explore unknown
situations or phenomenon in
order to identify variables to
be examined in the
subsequent quantitative phase
of the same study.

Sequential, qualitative phase


then quantitative. Qualitative
phase informs quantitative
phase.

Triangulation

To examine convergence or
divergence of findings from
qualitative and quantitative
data to minimize the
weaknesses of using a single
method to understand the
situation or variables of
interest.

Simultaneous, qualitative and


quantitative data collected at
the same time, from the same
or different samples, using the
same or different instruments.

How do I Choose an Appropriate Research Design?


As we discussed earlier, the choice of research method is guided by the nature of the new
knowledge you want to generate to address the research problem and the knowledge gap, your
research objectives, and the focus and form of your research questions. The research objectives
and the focus and form of the research questions also provide direction for the type of research
design that would be appropriate to generating answers to the research questions.
If you want to generate a rich, deep understanding of the meaning that people attach to their firsthand experience with a shared central phenomenon, then a phenomenological research design is
appropriate to answer that question.
Sergei is interested in understanding how immigrants adapt to the language demands of their
new country. Sergeis wants to understand what its like to be a Russian immigrant trying to

communicate in English. Sergeis research questions are: What is it like to be a Russian


immigrant who is trying to communicate in the language of his or her new country? How do
Russian immigrants experience their challenges in learning to communicate in English? How
do Russian immigrants experience their successes in learning to communicate in English? A
phenomenological design is appropriate to answer these research questions.
If you are interested in exploring in detail a particular situation from the perspective of multiple
stakeholders and multiple data sources, a case study design would be appropriate.
Tims research objective is to identify challenges ESL instructors and students face in using
m-learning technologies in their classes. He is interested in challenges faced by ESL
instructors at different levels of programs (secondary, 2-year, 4-year, and adult education
programs). His research questions pertain to what is the nature of these challenges at the
different program levels, what are the common challenges across these levels, and how do
they differ by level. Data sources include interviews with instructors and students, and
classroom observations. A design is appropriate to answer these research questions.
In contrast, if you want to examine cause and effect, an experiment or a quasi-experiment would
be appropriate.
Maribel is interested in examining the frequency of obsessive behaviors before and after a
new type of group therapy. Subjects are randomly assigned to the treatment group or a
control group whose members continue to attend their individual therapy sessions. Maribels
research question is What effect, if any, does participating in a new group therapy approach
have on the participants frequency of obsessive behaviors? An experiment is appropriate to
answer the research question.
If you want to examine differences between groups based on a naturally occurring independent
variable after the fact, then an ex post facto study would be appropriate.
Sasha is interested in examining differences in psychological barriers to sports performance,
by gender and by the teams division level. Both gender and division level are naturallyoccurring levels of the independent variables, not manipulated by the researcher. Sashas
research questions pertain to differences in perceived barriers by gender and by division
level. An ex post facto research design is appropriate to answer these research questions.
If you want to examine associations and or predictive relationships between variables, then a
descriptive correlational research design would be appropriate. John is interested in the
relationship between spirituality and job satisfaction, and the extent to which spirituality may be
predictive of job satisfaction.
Johns research questions are: What is the relationship between spirituality and job
satisfaction for employees in the nonprofit sector? To what extent is the spirituality of

nonprofit employees predictive of job satisfaction? A descriptive correlational research


design is appropriate to answer these research questions.
Research Questions and Research Designs
Example of Research Question

Research Design

If the county institutes a new program or


services for inmates, how might it reduce
recidivism among people who are serving
their first jail term? What might be
potential solutions to reduce the
recidivism rate of first time non-violent
juvenile offenders?

Delphi method

How do alcoholics in recovery maintain


Phenomenological
motivation to abstain from drinking? What
is the meaning that college athletes who
serve as team captain attach to their
leadership role and the satisfaction they
derive from leading their teammates?
Why do some community re-entry
Case study
programs have lower recidivism rates than
others? What is the nature of challenges
faced by ESL instructors at different levels
of programs (secondary, 2-year, 4-year,
and adult education programs)? What are
the common challenges faced by ESL
instructors across program levels? How do
the challenges faced by ESL instructors
differ by program level?
What theory explains the longevity of
leaders in the non-profit sector?

Grounded theory

Example of Research Question

Research Design

What is the relationship between optimism Descriptive correlational.


and post-retirement satisfaction? What is
the relationship between exercise and
postretirement satisfaction? To what
extent do optimism and exercise predict
post-retirement satisfaction?
What differences, if any, exist between
male and female soccer players perceived
psychological barriers in trying to break
out of a scoring slump?

Ex post facto

What is the effect of a life skills


Experimental design
curriculum on recidivism rates of juvenilejustice system involved youth?

Why is it Important to Develop Expertise in Applying the Design with Fidelity?


In order to design and implement a methodologically rigorous research study, there is no short
cut for developing deep understanding of and expertise in your chosen research design and its
application. Research designs are the blueprints for selecting the processes, procedures, and tools
for building and executing your study. Just as a builder would not build a house without selecting
an architectural design and becoming highly familiar with the blueprints, you cannot build a
research study without developing the same deep familiarity with your blueprints for your
research methodology. The blueprints will influence every decision from how you will select
your sample to how you will analyze and report your data, consistent with the chosen research
design.
Maribel is interested in examining the frequency of obsessive behaviors before and after a
new type of group therapy. Maribel wants to conduct an experiment. In reading major and
foundational works in experimental research, she has learned that an experiment must have
random assignment. She obtained permission from the clinic to have subjects randomly
assigned to the treatment group or a control group whose members continue to attend their
individual therapy sessions. She developed a survey questionnaire for subjects to use to track
the frequency of their obsessive behaviors weekly for 30 days before and at 30 days, 60 days,
and 90 days following a therapeutic intervention. She will use descriptive statistics to
describe the frequency of obsessive behaviors at these different points in time, and use crosstabulations to display the results for the different groups. She will use inferential statistics to

compare the frequency and intensity of obsessive behavior between groups preintervention to
determine equivalence between the treatment and control groups. She will compare the
frequency and intensity within groups (pre- and post-intervention and between-groups after
the intervention to test null hypotheses of no differences pre- and postintervention and no
differences between the treatment and control groups. The results will help her to answer her
research question, What effect, if any, does participating in a new group therapy approach
have on the participants frequency of obsessive behaviors?
Why are research textbooks just a starting point?
Research course textbooks provide an introduction and an overview about various research
methods and designs. They are designed to convey basic information sufficient to understand
major differences about these research methods and designs. They are not designed with the
intent to provide the depth of information needed to implement a research study in accordance
with that design. Some of the differences between the different research designs are subtle;
students who rely heavily on research course textbooks without taking the time to read major and
foundational sources in the chosen research method and research design are much more prone to
errors in selecting and applying the research design appropriately.
Why is it important to read major and foundational works?
Relying exclusively on research course textbooks rather than reading major and foundational
works in the chosen research method and research design is like reading Cliff Notes or an
abridged version of a 300-page instructional manual. The only way to develop the deep
knowledge necessary to implement a given research design appropriately is to read these major
and foundational works.
How do I identify them?
Look at the specific rather than generic research sources that are most frequently cited in peer
reviewed research articles reflecting use of your research design. You will begin to see the same
sources cited over and over. Many research textbooks and some doctoral research courses
include bibliographies for research works. Some faculty post bibliographies, or will do so if
asked.

Recap
Method vs. Design vs. Methodology
Research method = the major research approach
Research design = the specific research framework within the major research method
Research methodology = the procedures, techniques, and tools to be used to implement the
research plan
Research method is the major approach to conceptualizing and carrying out the research
Qualitative
Quantitative
Mixed - two research phases, one qualitative and one quantitative

Qualitative Inquiry:
Inductive Bottom up
Reveals deep understanding of a phenomenon or situation.
Generates new knowledge to create hypotheses
Involves rich narrative, auditory, or visual data
Analysis reveals themes, patterns, and meaning
Researcher is an instrument
Subjective
Bias can be minimized but not eliminated

Quantitative Investigation
Deductive
Top down
Reveals if support exists for the hypothesized relationship, difference, or effect

Based on existing theory and knowledge


Involves variables measured objectively through numeric data
Statistical analysis used to describe variables and test hypotheses
Bias can be controlled

Mixed method study is:


A single research study
Combines two research phases, each of which could be conducted separately as a full-scale
study
Quantitative and qualitative phases are either simultaneous or sequential

A mixed method study is not:


Two studies that could be conducted independently as full-scale studies, one with a
quantitative method and quantitative design, and the other with a qualitative method and
qualitative design
Any study with mixed data.

Choose research method based on:


The nature of the new knowledge you want to generate
Your research objectives
The focus and form of your research questions
If you want to generate a rich, deep understanding of a situation or phenomenon, then a
qualitative research method is appropriate to achieve that goal
In contrast, if you want to measure constructs and examine variables and their relationships,
comparisons, or cause and effect, then a quantitative method is appropriate
Personal preference, fear of statistics, and other idiosyncratic reasons should not drive the
choice of research method Qualitative research designs:

Reflect the nature of qualitative inquiry


In-depth exploration of a phenomenon or situation
Small sample Narrative, visual, or auditory data
Thematic, descriptive, or interpretive analysis

Phenomenological Inquiry:
Explicit goal is to understand and interpret lived experiences of a shared central
phenomenon and the meaning that participants attach to them
Reveals what its like to be someone who has experienced the phenomenon first-hand, and
the meaning salient for the participants
Participants are co-researchers
Inwardly focused

Case Study Research:


Goal is to describe and understand the characteristics of a bounded situation
Multiple data sources
Triangulation within and across cases and units of analysis
Externally focused

Narrative Inquiry:
Goal is to understand and interpret peoples lives and experiences
Involves story construction
Participants often co-construct their stories with the researcher
Grounded theory:
Explicit goal to generate a new theory, grounded in the data, to explain a situation or
phenomenon

Theory emerges through an iterative process of data coding and theory building

Delphi studies:
Goal is building consensus or identifying solutions
Future-oriented
Multiple rounds of data collection and analysis
Expert panel of stakeholders

Ethnography:
Goal is thick, rich description of the group and its culture
Involves observation and detailed note taking of a groups interactions and behaviors over
time Quantitative research designs:
Reflect the nature of quantitative investigation
Statistical examination of variables
Large sample Numeric data
Statistical analysis and hypothesis testing

Experimental Designs:
Goal is to examine the effect of a treatment (the independent variable) on one or more
outcome variables True experiment involves researcher manipulation of the independent
variable, with random assignment and random selection
Quasi-experiment does not involve random assignment
Feasibility is critically important

Ex post facto (causal comparative)


design:

Goal is to look backward in time, after the fact, to find explanations for possible current
differences between groups
The levels of the independent variable are based on pre-existing characteristics or
conditions

Descriptive correlational design:


Goal is to examine the association or predictive relationships between variables.
Can explain the extent to which changes in one or more variables are associated with or
predict changes in other variables
Can reveal the amount of variability explained by the relationship
Causality cannot be inferred

Mixed method designs:


Reflect the natures of both qualitative and quantitative research methods
Are either sequential or simultaneous

Explanatory:
Sequential Quantitative phase precedes qualitative phase
Qualitative phase supports further exploration of the meaning of the quantitative findings
Qualitative phase deepens understanding of the numeric data

Exploratory:
Sequential
Qualitative phase precedes quantitative phase
Qualitative phase is necessary to identify variables for the quantitative phase.
Qualitative results inform the quantitative phase in terms of the questions to be asked and
the variables of interest

Useful when insufficient information exists about what variables should be measured and
what relationships or comparisons should be tested

Triangulation:
Combines strengths and minimizes limitations of single method studies
Qualitative and quantitative data collected and analyzed simultaneously
Single sample or two different samples
Results from both phases triangulated to examine convergence and divergence
Choose your research design based on your research objectives and the focus and form of
your research questions
To generate a rich, deep understanding of the meaning that people attach to their first-hand
experience with a shared central phenomenon, a phenomenological research design is
appropriate
To explore in detail a particular situation from the perspective of multiple stakeholders and
multiple data sources, a case study design is appropriate.
To examine cause and effect, an experiment or a quasi-experiment is appropriate
To examine differences between groups based on a naturally occurring independent
variable after the fact, an ex post facto study is appropriate
To examine associations and or predictive relationships between variables, a descriptive
correlational research design is appropriate
Develop deep understanding of and expertise in your chosen research design and its
application. Research designs are blueprints for selecting the processes, procedures, and
tools for building and executing your study.
Role and limitations of research
Tags:
Provide an introduction and overview about various research methods and designs
Designed to convey basic information
Not designed with the intent to provide the depth of information needed to implement a
research study in accordance with that design

Heavy reliance on research course textbooks and skipping major and foundational sources
increases errors in selecting and applying the research design appropriately
The only way to develop the deep knowledge necessary to implement a given research design
appropriately is to read these major and foundational works.
In one of the Week 3 discussions there was mention of collecting data in the next six months.
Please keep in mind that you can only collect data once you are approved by the Walden
IRB to do so. There are strict federal regulations, which cover data collection protocols for
social and behavioral research. The IRB will review your data collection protocols to
determine that you are exercising proper treatments to ensure the confidentiality of your
participants and avoidance of placing them at risk (physical and mental). Issues related to
working with protected classes will also be addressed, again to ensure you are not placing
participants in harms way. Collecting data before you have secured an IRB approval may
subject both you and Walden University to sanctions. I hope this reminder is helpful.
Carry Over From Week 3 - List of Gaps Author: Posted Date: September 21, 2015 12:26
AM Status: Published Tags: None (Post is Read) Class, In Week 3, I suggested creating a
list of different types of gaps found in the literature. Gaps are much more than what most
students think they are - stating no one has ever written about this topic before. By
understanding the full array of gaps, you will benefit by identifying multiple opportunities
for crafting research objectives. In my Week Three handout called The Art of Search (see
Week 3, Discussion 1 Real Time Updates thread) there is a slide listing the different types
of gaps. I recommend you review the list, especially if you are running into a brick wall
attempting to find gaps in the literature. Are there any items on the list of gaps slide that
you would like me to elaborate upon? Dr. Ken Kenneth Sherman Thread: Discussion 1 https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=collectPrint&conf..
. 9/22/2015 Tags: None (Post is Read) In a larger class, important posts from the instructor
may get buried deep in the weekly threads and finding the information when needed can be
challenging. At times, the instructor finds that a reply posting to one student is applicable to
many. As we progress throughout the week I will post real time updates on matters relevant
to multiple students. Feel free to reply to content in this thread. Thread: Discussion 1 Week 4 Post: Discussion 1 - Week 4 Author: Posted Date: June 24, 2011 8:58 AM
Edited Date: September 8, 2015 12:15 AM Status: Published As with Weeks 2 and 3, for
the first discussion question of Week 4 you should not prepare the draft of content for the
Prospectus. Rather, you will create an Approach Statement, which will consist of a list of
bullet points that will indicate step by step how you will go about preparing for the draft
due on Day 5. Asking you to discuss how you plan to prepare the assignment due on Day 5,
rather than simply dispatching you to create a draft, is intended to help you create an
awareness and understanding of your own thought and learning processes. This concept is
known as metacognition, the thinking about thinking. Metacognition is crucial to your
success as a student and as a researcher. The Approach Statement for Week 4 is a good

yardstick for me to perform a similar cognitive monitoring of your understanding of the


goals and processes to formulate a problem statement. An Approach Statement will be the
deliverable for each discussion in Weeks 2, 3, 4 and 5. From your Approach Statement, I
will be able evaluate your ability to conceptualize individual tasks to execute to achieve
your research goals. This type of assessment is not often done and is invaluable in guiding
your ability to evolve your research skills and strategies. The instructions for the Week 4
Discussion 1 Approach Statement are simple to comprehend: Provide a bullet point listing
of the steps you will take to select and justify an Kenneth Sherman Be sure to follow the
instructions listed above the red line with respect to how to complete this assignment.
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. 9/22/2015
appropriate selection of (a) research method and (b) research design
due on Day 5 of this week. As a reminder, the Alignment Video posted in Week 2 (and
appearing in Doc Sharing) is a good background resource. The handouts I am going to post
in response to this note should also be helpful. The Approach Statement will serve as your
answer to Week 4 Discussion 1 due Day 2. Thereafter Read a selection of your
colleagues postings. Be sure to select and respond to someone who has not yet received
a response. Respond by Day 4 to two or more of your colleagues' postings in one or
more of the following ways: An exemplary posting is created when you provided
constructive feedback to two different classmate contributions in line with the methodology
learning objectives for the current or prior weeks. Constructive feedback includes
challenging accuracy or assumptions or using Socratic questioning to focus the student
more deeply on methodology issues. Scholarly references are integrated into your postings
to support your ideas. Responses may address the topic of the study but should do so in the
context of methodological alignment. Dr. Ken -------- The instructions below were
replaced by the instructions above the red line for greater clarity. Please do not work
with these instructions: Research Design Development and Analysis Your problem
statement and research question(s) tend to address the what of your dissertation: Your
research design addresses the "how." Each research question serves as a bridge between
your problem statement and your research design, and you have already begun to think
broadly of an appropriate methodology to address your research question(s). For this
Discussion, you will begin to give more coherence and structure to your research design.
With these thoughts in mind: Watch the video Musings: Aligning Research Questions
and Methodology. Collection MGMT-8990-1/MGMT-8990M-1-Developing a ... Page 36
of 37
https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=collectPrint&conf..
. 9/22/2015 Tags: None (Post is Read) Post by Day 2 your latest draft of your problem
statement and your research question(s). Then identify the appropriate research
methodology, and explain why you feel it is the appropriate methodology for your study.
Next, propose, describe, and defend the potential research design you believe would be

most effective at addressing the problem statement, research questions, and chosen
methodology. Be specific, and reada selection of your colleagues posts. Be sure to select
and respond to someone who has not yet received a response. Respond by Day 4 to
two or more of your colleagues' postings in one or more of the following ways: Ask a
probing question. Share an insight from having read your colleague's posting. Offer and
support an opinion. Validate an idea with your own experience. Make a suggestion or
share a resource with your colleague. Expand on your colleague's posting. Return to this
Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note what you
learned and/or any insights you gained as a result of your colleagues' comments. By Day 5,
you will be responsible for posting your proposed research design to the Discussion 2 area
for your groups review. OK Collection MGMT-8990-1/MGMT-8990M-1Developing a ... Page 37 of 37
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