Quantitative and Qualitative Research Questions and Purpose Statements

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The improvement and reformations witnessed in the contemporary world are attributed to myriads of research studies in various fields. Research is an essential aspect that seeks to come up with or ascertain an existing hypothesis. There are generally two methods of research designs; qualitative and quantitative designs. In qualitative design, the researcher seeks to find out how or why a particular event is happening. This means the design of the study is directed to answering the ‘how’ or ‘why’ of the research topic. On the other hand, quantitative research is designed to discover where, when, or where a particular situation is happening (Creswell, 2008). This means that the study is designed to answer the ‘when the ‘why’ or the ‘what’ factors in the research topic. Both qualitative and quantitative research studies have differences and similarities. In this paper, the differences, and similarities will be evaluated in terms of two aspects; the purpose statement and the research question.

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The Purpose Statement

According to Creswell (2009), a purpose statement is a sentence declaring the summation of goals or a specific topic of a given document. In both quantitative and qualitative research designs, a purpose statement is designed to indicate the summary of the research document. The statement tells the reader why the study was carried out thereby explaining the intent of the researcher. The information in the purpose statement enables the reader to anticipate the information he or she will obtain from the research document.

Comparison of the Qualitative Purpose Statement and Quantitative Purpose Statement

Qualitative research captures the natural behavior in a certain setting. On the other hand, a quantitative study collects data in the form of numbers. The differences and similarities in qualitative and quantitative studies are seen in the form of the content and the language of the purpose statement.

Differences and Similarities in the Content

A qualitative purpose statement is designed to reflect the central phenomenon of the research. It indicates the participants and the site of the research. On the other hand, a quantitative purpose statement contains the variables of the research. The variables may be dependent, independent, moderating, controlling, or mediating variables. In addition, a quantitative purpose statement indicates the site of the research and participants. This means that both qualitative and quantitative purpose statements indicate the research participant and the research site. However, a quantitative purpose statement specifies the research variable whereas a qualitative purpose statement states the phenomena of the study.

Differences and Similarities in the Language

The qualitative purpose statement is written using a qualitative language of inquiry. Words such as intent, purpose, or objective are used to bring out the purpose of the study in the purpose statement. In addition, action verbs, such as develop, describe, examine, and understand are used in the qualitative purpose statement. The qualitative purpose statement further employs a non-directional and neutral language. The language used provides a tentative description of the central phenomenon. On the other hand, a quantitative purpose statement makes use of words that connects dependent and independent variables. This implies that words, such as ‘the comparison of’ are used. Like a qualitative purpose statement, a quantitative purpose statement uses words, such as intent, purpose, or objectives. A quantitative purpose statement further indicates the conceptual framework and the strategy of the inquiry.

Research Questions

According to Tashakkori and Creswell (2007), a research question refers to a procedural spot of departure from academic research in both social and natural sciences. The research question seeks to provide information on any questions posed on certain issues. A research question forms the central focus of both qualitative and quantitative types of research. The question indicates the intention of the researcher by indicating what he or she wants to know most from the study. The development of a research question depends on the type of research; qualitative, quantitative, or mixed. This is because the research question serves two purposes, which differ, depending on the type of the research. In the first place, the research question determines where and what kind of study the researcher is after (Tashakkori & Creswell, 2007). In addition, the research question identifies the objective of the study. As a result, the research question for qualitative and quantitative studies differs in some cases.

Qualitative Research Questions

In qualitative research design, the researcher seeks to find out how or why a particular event is happening. This means the design of the qualitative research question is directed at answering the ‘how’ or ‘why’ of the research topic. For instance: why has the school been performing poorly? Answering a qualitative research question requires the researcher to source information from print media, audio, and visual media (Tashakkori & Creswell, 2007).

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Quantitative Research Questions

Quantitative research is designed to discover where, when, or where a particular situation is happening. This means that a quantitative research question is designed to answer the ‘when the ‘why’ or the ‘what’ factors in the research topic. In this case, the researcher needs to ask questions that require numerical analysis. For instance: which areas does the school need to improve? In this case, the researcher may source information from the opinion count of respondents or source information from similar studies done in the same area.

Similarities and Differences in Qualitative and Quantitative Research Questions

From the analysis of the two studies, a qualitative research question is descriptive. At the same time, the number of research questions is limited in qualitative research. On the other hand, a quantitative research question is hypothetical, and objective. It flows from a certain theory and makes use of a language that commands specified variables. Variables are commanded from independent to dependent. In addition, the quantitative research question makes use of a set phraseology to aid the reader appreciate variables in the research. In a qualitative study, nonstandard phraseologies are applied to formulate the research question. This is because qualitative studies use words derived from informers. The nonstandard phraseology is defined within the context of the study (Tashakkori & Creswell, 2007). For the quantitative study, terminologies are made clear at the beginning of the research paper. As a result, the terminologies in the research question are well defined. Quantitative research questions are formulated based on the information in the two categories of the study; experimental and correlation studies. In the case of experimental studies, the researcher manipulates quantitative data from an experiment. In the case of correlation studies, the research question is designed to ascertain a quantitative relationship between two or more variables without experimenting. In the case of qualitative research, the research questions do not depend on the design of the study (Atieno, 2009). This means that a research question for ethnographic research can resemble a research question for phenomenological research.

References

Atieno, O. (2009). An Analysis of the Strengths and Limitations of Qualitative and Quantitative Research Paradigms. Problems of Education in the 21st century, 13, 13-18.

Creswell, J. (2008). Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research (3rd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall.

Creswell, J. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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Tashakkori, A., & Creswell, J. W. (2007). Exploring the nature of research questions. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1 (3), 207–211.

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