Critically Discuss the Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Work

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Critically discuss the difference between qualitative and quantitative work. Your answer should include some indication of the benefits and disadvantages of both approaches and indicate the circumstances in which you might use either approach. Your answer should include at least two examples.

There has been the reason for many debates among educational researchers since mid 19th century. During the 1970s and 80s the critique against quantitative research which had dominated the field for several decades got so extensive that some authors have called this period an era of 'paradigm wars' (Gage 1989, Hammersley 1992b quoted in Quantitative and Qualitative Inquiry in Educational Research by Katrin Niglas, 1999). The terms quantitative and qualitative research are usually seen to signify more than different ways of gathering data, they are taken to denote divergent assumptions about the nature and purpose of research in the social sciences (Bryman 1988, quoted in Quantitative and Qualitative Inquiry in Educational Research by Katrin Niglas, 1999).This paper will discuss and analyse the distinction between quantitative and qualitative approaches of research. Researchers have different views about the nature of research. Positivists believe that they are studying an objective world and so searching for fundamental laws of behaviour while phenomenologists believe that the world is socially constructed and that at best we can identify trends and influences on behaviour. These opposing philosophies, in turn, influence the research design and methods that are used. Positivists tend to use more quantitative methods and phenomenologists more qualitative methods. (Qualitative and Quantitative research) Quantitative methods are concerned with studying the frequency of events and opinions occurring in the social world and identifying the causal relations between events. Given this identification of causal relations, the general idea, at least when taking a positivist perspective, is that this will allow us to predict and perhaps ultimately control behaviour. Quantitative Research options have been predetermined and a large number of respondents are involved. By definition, measurement must be objective, quantitative and statistically valid. Simply put, it’s about numbers, objective hard data. The sample size for a survey is calculated by statisticians using formulas to determine how large a sample size will be needed from a given population in order to achieve findings with an acceptable degree of accuracy. Generally, researchers seek sample sizes which yield findings with at least a 95% confidence interval (which means that if you repeat the survey 100 times, 95 times out of a hundred, you would get the same response), plus/minus a margin error of 5 percentage points. Many surveys are designed to produce a smaller margin of error. (Qualitative and Quantitative research) There are a number of different research methods that can be used which provide the researcher with quantitative data for analysis. Although, the same method can be used to collect either quantitative or qualitative data, depending on how it is used. For instance, qualitative Research is collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data by observing what people do and say. Whereas, quantitative research refers to counts and measures of things, qualitative research refers to the meanings, concepts, definitions, characteristics, metaphors, symbols, and descriptions of things. Qualitative research is much more subjective than quantitative research and uses very different methods of collecting information, mainly individual, in-depth interviews and focus groups. The nature of this type of research is exploratory and open-ended. Small numbers of people are interviewed in-depth and/or a relatively small number of focus groups are conducted. Participants are asked to respond to general questions and the interviewer or group moderator probes and explores their responses to...
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