Sociologists are interested in the effects the pandemic has had on children’s education. They are considering how online teaching methods may impact the children’s ability to engage with the content.
The first way to uncover this question is the quantitative way where the students are placed into two groups-online versus offline. The students are then given one hour lecture either via zoom or face-to-face. They then measure their level of retention of the topic using multiple-choice questions, and the data from the two groups are compared. The advantage of answering this question using this approach is that the research can reach a higher sample size, the students. The procedure is more robust, and with that, the results from the analysis conducted could be better to generalize conclusions since the study focuses on the variables of interest.
The researchers can also collect information more quickly, which means that analysis can happen almost immediately, leading to quick research questions. Additionally, data can be collected anonymously since the demographic of the study group is already established. This way, the respondents are likely to give honest feedback. The main disadvantage arises from the anonymous nature of collecting data if the results analyzed become inconclusive; therefore, the validity of what was received is not guaranteed. Secondly, this method only wants to find the answers to a set of given questions to answer a specific research question; therefore, it does not consider the motivation the students have in answering the questions. Finally, the process may be expensive, and there is no meaningful way of checking whether the students’ answers are accurate.
The second way to uncover the effects the pandemic has had on children’s education is the qualitative way, where the researchers select a few students for a semi-structured interview. They ask each student about their experience with online teaching using semi-structured interviews. Using these interviews, they generate transcripts and then code for similar themes to understand their experiences. Semi-structured interviews are an interview technique where the interviewer comes up with a list of questions used to guide them while conducting the interview. Therefore, the interview is more or more open-ended. This qualitative approach’s advantage is that the interview flows more like a conversation, unlike other interviews, which are sessions based on questions and answers.
The second advantage is that there is room for creativity, and the questions are personally tailored according to each student being interviewed. This means that much data with a more significant number of details is collected. One of the disadvantages of using semi-structured interviews is that since they tend to be more open-ended in return, it takes longer than the typical question and answer interviews. With that, not all interviewees make great participants. Therefore, one cannot guarantee the honesty of the responses. Additionally, the interviewer may be carried away by the conversation, thus leaving helpful questions during the interview, which could be a waste of time. Finally, there is room for inevitable biases such as racism, ageism, sexism, and any other bias based on discriminatory factors. The interview is not required to ask each participant the same questions. Therefore, preparing a semi-structured interview is not only tricky but also challenging to analyze and compare answers.