The methods used by modern researchers continuously evolve. These techniques tend to become more sophisticated and accurate; moreover, they are more oriented to the needs of people or the challenges that they face. This paper is aimed at discussing the recent developments in both quantitative and qualitative research. It seems that this discussion can help scholars develop the most effective strategies when they need to examine a certain phenomenon or problem. Special attention should be paid to the essential difference between these paradigms. Quantitative techniques are supposed to test or verify certain conjectures, while qualitative approaches are adopted when it is necessary to examine various dimensions of a particular issue. Despite these differences, one should remember that each of these paradigms can greatly benefit researchers. This is one of the main issues that should be considered.
At first, it is important to discuss the trends that shape quantitative research which is of great use to social scientists and educators. This strategy is based on the assumption that it is possible to measure complex attitudes or beliefs in a numerical way (Creswell, 2008, p. 48). Although these techniques were initially developed for the needs of natural science, they are widely adopted by other scholars. For example, educators, who rely on this approach, try to identify various patterns by evaluating different individual abilities of learners, gathering scores, and conducting various experiments in school settings (Creswell, 2008, p. 48). Several aspects should be discussed. First, it is important to speak about the increasing use of surveys that are supposed to measure certain types of behavior or the opinions of respondents (Willis, 2008, p. 174). Furthermore, one can mention the reliance on standardized testing in schools; these tools are adopted to evaluate the performance of students or assess the effectiveness of different instructional methods. Modern scholars focus on the procedures of their quantitative studies. For instance, they pay close attention to such issues as the relationships among different variables and the magnitude of these relations (Creswell, 2008, p. 48). This is why researchers focus on the estimates of the effect size. In this way, they attempt to increase the validity of their studies. Apart from that, educators and social scientists attempt to increase the sensitivity of their experiments (Creswell, 2008, p. 48). This task is of great concern to educators who carry out large-scale experiments in schools or colleges. These are some of the main practices that are involved in quantitative studies, and these works can greatly improve existing teaching methods employed in schools.
Overall, there are several principles that researchers usually adhere to. First of all, their studies are usually based on an experimental design that involves the comparison of two or several groups (Cottrell & McKenzie, 2010, p. 9). In this way, one can better understand the relationship between or among different variables that can be dependent or independent from one another (Creswell, 2008, p. 48). These are the main trends that one can identify. Each of these tendencies is relevant to educational researchers who want to quantify the data that they collect to increase the validity of the results. In this way, they can develop a better educational program that can suit the needs of learners.
Furthermore, it is important to look at developments in qualitative research which differ dramatically from quantitative methods. On the whole, qualitative research techniques are not aimed at testing a specific conjecture (Brown, 2005, p. 45). They are usually used when it is necessary to throw new light on different aspects of a certain problem. More importantly, these approaches enable scholars to understand the attitudes and experiences of the participants who can be affected by this problem. For instance, one can speak about such an approach which is called advocacy research. Under such circumstances, researchers want the participants to air their views on educational policies, instructional methods, or curriculum development (Creswell, 2008, p. 50). Very often, such studies enable teachers to offer their recommendations regarding the best practices that can be adopted by teachers. So, researchers attempt to bring improvements to the work of schools or colleges. Such a goal can be better achieved when a scholar can interact directly with a person who has in-depth knowledge of practices, programs, and models used in schools and colleges. This is one of the principles that scholars take into account when they design their qualitative studies.
One can distinguish other tendencies that are important for scholars. First of all, researchers focus on the narratives of the respondents whose answers will later be codified and analyzed (Creswell, 2008, p. 49). Overall, these studies involve the use of unstructured or semi-structured interviews. This research technique does not limit the responses of the subjects who can speak freely about different questions that are of great importance to the respondents. This is the main advantage of this approach, and it is adopted by many people who study the work of educational institutions. The main issue that should be considered is that social researchers and educators usually combine different research paradigms because in this way they can make their studies more informative as well as accurate.
These examples suggest that quantitative and quantitative research paradigms differ dramatically in terms of their development. The methods involved in quantitative studies have become more sophisticated. As a rule, researchers rely on statistical tools that help them increase the validity of their studies. As it has been said before, quantitative research is most effective when it is necessary to test a hypothesis. In contrast, qualitative studies are more explorative because they are designed to throw new light on different problems. Nevertheless, each of these approaches can be equally useful they are properly applied.
Brown, S. (2005). Structural Phenomenology: An Empirically-Based Model Of Consciousness. New York: Peter Lang.
Cottrell, R., & McKenzie, J. (2010). Health Promotion & Education Research Methods: Using the Five Chapter Thesis/ Dissertation Model. New York: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Creswell, J. (2008). Educational research: planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Upper Saddle River: Pearson.
Willis, J. (2008). Qualitative Research Methods in Education and Educational Technology. London: IAP.