Training Program: Qualitative and Quantitative Research

In the education sector, an ongoing reform process includes the advancement of the curriculum for children with disabilities so that they receive similar training to their counterparts without disabilities. Some programs exist to this effect. A recurring research question has been to find out the outcomes and effectiveness of the different programs and motivations used to make education equality a reality. The question appears as a quantitative research problem, as an immediate answer would be to compare the effectiveness of different instructional practices. However, there is also another path, a qualitative one, which can help resolve the problem of finding out the effectiveness of various instructional processes targeted at children with disabilities (Ferrelli, 2010).

Different paths leading to the qualitative or quantitative study

In research, objectives to find out new information to support an inference or create a new one usually overlap and the same applies to the qualitative and quantitative methodologies used. On one hand, qualitative approaches focus on the need to get an in-depth understanding of reasons and motivations for a particular observation. On the contrary, quantitative research focuses on the quantification of data to support or argue against a particular view or opinion. In this research problem, it would be necessary to find out the opinions, motivations, and objectives of the various special programs, to determine their effectiveness and then go on to review actual performance to gauge effectiveness.

Comparison

Both qualitative and quantitative research approaches would provide answers to the research question. Educators will be able to tell the effectiveness of a particular program using the two methods. In performing the research, the approach would entail data collection then cover data analysis and finally the presentation of the analyzed results to invoke a conclusion about the research question. The conclusion can then bring up practical implications or research implications relevant to the particular study. In the case of measuring the effectiveness of the educational process, the conclusion would be on whether a given process or program is efficient and the measure of its effectiveness. In this regard, both the qualitative and quantitative approaches will provide a measure of the results. This is despite one approach being centered on measurement while the other is more about descriptions (Thomas, 2003).

Contrast

As explained in the comparison subsection above, both approaches will yield a measurement of effectiveness. However, the nature of measurement will differ. In the first case, where a qualitative approach provides answers, the measurement will be implied, and it will be relational. For example, a program can be said to work well to match expectations of set benchmarks. In this case, the benchmarks are serving as units of measurement. In the second case, where the approach used is quantitative, a more elaborate measurement emerges (Taylor, 2005). The conclusion of a study can be in terms of the number of pupils being able to perform and pass a test for literacy, which would, in this case, be a benchmark used for measuring the effectiveness of a literacy program for disabled children.

Description of Qualitative Path

The intent of the study

The qualitative path emerges from an anthropological tradition where a researcher is observing a population deeply to understand it from the perspective of the individuals making up the population. Upon understanding, the researcher describes the findings in detail to transfer the understanding to a reader. In the context of education, the study intends to find out the meaning that a given section of stakeholders places on a program. In this case, the disabled are a population that is outside the societal norm, and its needs, perspectives, and motivations may be different. The study intends to find out whether the prescribed forms of inclusion, provided by various programs help the disabled to feel part of the societal norm in education (Goertz & Mahoney, 2012).

The types of research questions you would ask

The research question comes from the research problems and previous research experience. They will use how and what as the trigger words. For example, a question could be: What happened disabled children who only accessed half of the Leave No Child Behind special education program?

The types of data you would collect

Qualitative data can include in-depth interviews, written documents, and direct observation. Interviews can be with particular people or using focus groups, while direct observation could be through a lived experience with the studied population or audio and video information capturing technologies. Data can also exist in prewritten or illustrated forms in reports, photos, drawings, transcripts, and newspaper articles among others (Ary, Jacobs, Sorensen, & Walker, 2014).

How you would obtain an appropriate sample and sample size

A rule of thumb has been to subdivide groups for any major topic of research until there is no new data being collected from different groups. Convenience, snowball techniques, quotas, and theoretical approaches can serve as methods of obtaining an appropriate sample. The correct sample size is one that reduces the chances of discovery failure. The researcher comes up with a hypothesis and then based on the research problem, resources and hypothesis, determines the ideal sample size.

The limitations because of the path chosen

There is a high risk of over or under-sampling leading to discovery failure. This happens when perception or attribute, opinion, and need or experience is missed.

Description of Quantitative Path

The intent of the study

The study is statistical, it associates with experimental science and seeks to define and measure behavior. Results of the study then weaken or strengthen existing scholarly findings.

The types of research questions you would ask

Quantitative research questions can be descriptive, comparative or relationship-based, and they include different variables that are measured, manipulated or controls in the study (Goertz & Mahoney, 2012). Example questions can be how often do children with disabilities miss classes because of curriculum-based reasons or what is the proportion of teachers in public schools dedicated to offering special education under special education financing programs?

The types of data you would collect

Data can be an interval, ratio, dichotomous or binary, discrete and continuous. Once collected, the data is analyzed in descriptive statistics and inferential statistics to derive meaning.

How you would obtain an appropriate sample and sample size

Samples are obtained by probability methods where participants are picked at random. Preferred methods are simply random, systematic random, stratified and multistage cluster. A given population can be selected purposefully, and then a subpopulation selected randomly. Researchers calculate the sample size based on the size of the studied population. Researchers can use established sample size tables to determine their required sample size.

The limitations because of the path chosen

There can be biases in the wording of measurement instruments such as questionnaires. The scales used may lack reliability and validity. The study can be superficial and not generalizable (Rubin & Babbie, 2010).

References

Ary, D., Jacobs, L., Sorensen, C., & Walker, D. (2014). Introduction to research in education (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Ferrelli, L. A. (2010). Teaching in special education: Managing the chaos. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc.

Goertz, G., & Mahoney, J. (2012). A tale of two cultures: Qualitative and quantitative research in the social sciences. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Rubin, A., & Babbie, E. (2010). Essential research methods for social work (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Taylor, G. R. (Ed.). (2005). Integrating quantitative and qualitative methods in research. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc.

Thomas, R. M. (2003). Blending qualitative & quantitative research methods in theses and dissertations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.