Comprehensive Exam Questions Masters in Psychology

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Comprehensive Exam
Jan, 2011

Research Methods
Describe questionnaires, interviews, observational methods and case studies.  What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? a.      Compare and contrast qualitative research and quantitative research. b.      What are the goals, advantages, and disadvantages of descriptive, correlational, and experimental designs?   

A questionnaire is a technique that used for collecting data in a survey. It is a series of questions to which the respondent provides answers. During the interviews and in person surveys one must stay within the bounds of the designed protocol. Observational research solely involves the researcher(s) making observations. There are numerous positive aspects to this research approach. Observations are flexible and don’t necessarily have to be structured around a hypothesis. One disadvantage to doing surveys is that there is little chance of causation being shown. Case studies emphasize a limited number of events or conditions within their relationships. Strengths: The advantages of the case study method are applicable to real-life, contemporary, human situations, and its public accessibility through written reports (Rubin, Babbie, 2011).

Qualitative research is scientific. It seeks answers to questions. It systematically uses a predefined set of procedures to do everything. Everything involves answering questions, collecting evidence, produces findings that were not determined at an earlier time, and produces findings that were not determined at an earlier time, and produces findings that are applicable beyond the immediate boundaries of the study. This research seeks to understand a given research problem or topic from the perspectives of the population that’s involved. It is especially effective in obtaining culturally specific information (, 2011). Qualitative research methods are used when you want to know “how many” and/or “how often (, 2011).

Quantitative and Qualitative research methods differ in their analytical objectives, the types of questions they pose, the types of data collection instruments they use, the forms of data they produce, and the degree of flexibility built into study design.

Qualitative research differs from quantitative research in that the latter is characterized by the use of large samples, standardized measures, a deductive approach, and highly structured interview instruments to collect data for hypothesis testing (Marlow, 1993). In contrast to qualitative research, in quantitative research easily quantifiable categories are typically generated before the study and statistical techniques are used to analyze the data collected. Both qualitative and quantitative researches are designed to build knowledge; they can be used as complementary strategies. (McRoy, 2004)

Correlational studies only tell us that there is a relationship between the two variables.  They do not tell us which variable "caused" the other. No matter how convincing data from descriptive and correlational studies may sound, because they have less control over the variables and the environments that they study, non-experimental designs cannot rule out extraneous variables as the cause of what is being observed. Only experiments can assess cause and effect (Author, 2003).

Author.(2003). Descriptive and correlational designs. Retrieved Jan 5, 2005 from FamilyHealth International [FHI]. (2000). Qualitative research methods: A data collector’s field guide. Retrieved Jan 5, 2011 from McRoy, R.G. (2004). Case study interviews: Caring for persons with AIDS. In J. Gilgun, K.Daly, & G. Handel (Eds.), Qualitativemethods in family research.66–84. Retrieved Jan 5, 2005 from...
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