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Methodological Critique

ETEC 500

Claude DSouza


Section 64B

The following summary and critique is intended to compare the research methodology

behind quantitative and qualitative research, gained from the investigation of two sample

research studies. Hamre & Piantes (2005) quantitative study investigates the effects of the grade

one classroom environment on the status of the students at the end of the school year, in order to

determine if teacher support could mitigate the childrens risk of failure. The purpose of the

quantitative Sleeter (2009) study is to try and identify factors that contribute to one teachers

growth in a graduate course in multicultural curriculum design.

Descriptive Analysis and Critique of Research Design Methods in Both Study Samples

The Hamre & Piante (2005) study is longitudinal so that before and after assessments can

be compared and analyzed. The experiment is natural in terms of student assignment into

different classrooms, and the researchers carry out objective observations of teacher support in

order to ensure consistency. In my opinion, these methods are effective for identifying

relationships between variables. The reasoning for the methodological approach used by Hamre

& Piante (2005) is well-supported with theoretical evidence; much of their design adheres to the

recommendations of Rutter & Maughan (2002).

Sleeter (2009) chooses the case study because she wants to look at what makes the

individual case unique. She chooses her individual because a lot can be learned from studying a

beginner teacher with no prior experience in the course area. Sleeter (2009) triangulates results

across her data collection sources, which include a variety of methods using written and visual

information from the researcher and participant. In order to guide her reflection and analysis of

the data, Sleeter (2009) follows a self-designed rubric that distinguishes three levels of critical

thinking on multicultural curriculum. Although Sleeter (2009) cites research to support her

qualitative approach, I feel that some of her design methods are ineffective. Firstly, the

researcher herself is teaching the course, and she conducts the qualitative research, so this

appears to be an action research study. Although objectivity is intended, the validity can be

hindered by experimenter bias. Furthermore, Sleeter (2009) may be able to understand the

complexity of a single case, but I think that she would benefit from similarly designed studies

with a few other subjects to allow for comparisons to be made. Although some data analysis

strategies that she employs are effective, I believe that the involvement of a third-party to

conduct observations and the inclusion of a few more individual case studies are needed.

Analysis of Differences Between Quantitative and Qualitative Study Samples

There are several major differences between the quantitative study by Hamre & Piante

(2005), and the qualitative research conducted by Sleeter (2009). First, in terms of the

description of the research problem, Hamre & Plante (2005) seek an explanation for the problem

and describe the problem in detail, citing many previous studies in their area of study. On the

other hand, Sleeter (2009) use a broader description, as she attempts to gain some understanding

as to how her course should be taught by exploring the individual case of one of her students.

Hamre & Plante (2005) use a large, randomly selected sample, then narrow their focus to

910 children with complete data. Overall, the placement of participants is natural and somewhat

random, with sufficient representation of participants with various levels of risk in low, moderate

and high support classrooms. Sleeters (2009) selection of her one participant for the case study

is not random, but based on the teachers experiences, especially with regards to the course


Data collection is detailed and methodical in the quantitative study done by Hamre &

Plante (2005), and the analysis of the numerical data is done carefully using universally accepted

statistical measures. The sources of text and visual data collected by Sleeter (2009) highlight a

variety of sources, and she designs and uses her own rubric to analyze and triangulate the


Hamre & Plante (2005) follow a procedure that is scientific, using recognizable

instruments, and trained observers measure the level of instructional and emotional support in the

classrooms. Sleeter (2009) follows a procedure that consists of more subjective methods of data

collection, based on open-ended responses by the participant and herself.

The quantitative study by Hamre & Plante (2005) allows them to draw general

conclusions, and make claims about how instructional and emotional support is related to

academic achievement and student-teacher interactions. Sleeter (2009), on the other hand, can

only draw conclusions that apply to herself and her one participant.

Finally, in terms of reporting literature, Hamre & Plante (2005) present a thorough

review, which includes valuable contributions and shortcomings in the existing literature, as well

as recommendations that justify the problem and the need for this quantitative study. Sleeters

(2009) report is not as extensive, but also provides some justification for her research problem.

Relevance of Investigation in the Context of My Future Research

From the quantitative study by Hamre & Plante (2005), I have learned much about what

is required to conduct effective educational research. First, the researcher must thoroughly

investigate the existing work in the desired area to highlight the problem and need for the study.

Then, the research project must be carefully designed, with all measures taken to ensure

objectivity and validity. Finally, the results must be analyzed in a way that adjusts for other

variables that may influence the researchers interpretation of the results. From Sleeters (2009)

qualitative study, I learned that it is not important to focus on generalizability of data, but rather

ensuring that the findings are relevant to the researcher and/or the participants themselves.

Although I appreciate the value of unique insight gained from the individual case study, I think if

faced with a similar situation, I would aim to do conduct multiple case studies of individuals to

also draw conclusions based on simiarities. Finally, I learned that is important to use methods

such as triangulation when analyzing data, in order to draw conclusions from a qualitative case


As a new educational researcher, I believe that the quantitative methods are more

appealing to me in terms of my own research interests. The design of these types of studies is

very consistent; the procedure and analysis of results in quantitative studies are always

conducted objectively, using closed data from a large sample and measuring it with reliable tools.

In the areas of research that I would like to explore, such as Korean high school students

academic improvement in English based on the presence or absence of a native English-speaking

teacher, I feel that there is a need for a quantitative approach similar to the one employed by

Hamre & Plante (2005). There is more insight that can be gained from investigating existing

research when designing a quantitative study, and although much more time and effort is needed

to create, implement, and analyze findings, the conclusions drawn from a well-designed study

can be applicable on a larger scale than its quantitative counterpart. As a beginner in the area of

research, I would be more inclined to initially engage in quantitative design methods.


Hamre, B. K., & Pianta, R. C. (2005). Can instructional and emotional support in the firstgrade
classroom make a difference for children at risk of school failure?. Child Development,
76(5), 949-967.

Rutter, M., & Maughan, B. (2002). School effectiveness findings 19792002. Journal of School
Psychology, 40, 451475.

Sleeter, C. (2009). Developing teacher epistemological sophistication about multicultural

curriculum: A case study. Action in Teacher Education, 31(1), 3-13.