The objective of this paper is to propose a study and discussion on the use of quantitative and qualitative approaches in engineering research methods and design. In this introduction it is to provide a thorough presentation on the aspects of qualitative and quantitative approaches for engineering research. As such, the scope of this paper covers a broad range of topics and it is important that the engineer to perform successful experiments, and it is equally important that to understand and be able to estimate the accuracy of the engineering investigations through these approaches.
In the past research approaches in engineering have accumulated to a point at which the engineers and investigators have many selections. For those designing an engineering research proposal, it is recommended that a general framework be maintained to accommodate advice about all facets of the study, from assessing the general theoretical ideas behind the investigation to the detailed data collection and test procedures. Using an extant framework also allows engineering researchers to lodge their plans in design ideas well grounded in the literature and recognized by audiences that read and support the proposals for engineering research.
The focuses in this paper are on the use of quantitative and qualitative approach and the comparisons and contrasts in the characteristics as well as the significances of these approaches within the field of engineering design research.
This section suggests the background and the framework of quantitative as well as the qualitative approaches for engineering research. The theoretical assumptions about what constitute the knowledge claims; the general procedures of research are the strategies of investigation; and detailed procedures of data collection analysis are called methods.
2.1 Outline of Quantitative Approach to Engineering Research
A quantitative approach in engineering is defined as one in which the engineer mainly employ postpositivist claims for developing knowledge. The knowledge are called cause and effect thinking, reduction to specific variables and hypothesis and questions, use of measurement and observation, and the test of theories. Quantitative approach employs strategies of analysis such as experiments and opinions, and collects information on predetermined instruments that yield statistical information.
In this scenario the engineer tests a theory by specifying narrow hypotheses and the collection of experiment data to support or refute the hypotheses. An experiential engineering design is applied in which attitudes are assessed both and after an experimental treatment. The data are collected on an instrument that measures attitudes, and the information collected is analyzed using statistical execution and hypothesis testing.
2.2 Outline of Qualitative Approach to Engineering Research
A qualitative approach in engineering research is one in which the engineer makes knowledge claims based primarily on constructivist perspectives and that is, the multiple meanings of individual experiences, meanings evidently and historically constructed, with intent of developing a theory or pattern, and that is issue-oriented or collaborative. It also uses strategies of investigation such as narratives, phenomenologies, ethnographies, grounded theory studies, and case studies. The engineer collects open-ended, emerging data with the primary intent of developing ideas and design from the data.
In this situation the engineers seek to establish the meaning of a phenomenon from the opinions of participants. This means identifying a culture-sharing group and studying how it developed shared patterns of behavior over time (i.e ethnography). One of the key elements of collecting data is to observe participants’ behaviours by participating in their activities. For this research approach, the engineer seeks to examine an issue related to oppression of...