Quantitative Analysis in the Health Sciences

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University of Missouri-Kansas City
School of Nursing
N345: Quantitative Analysis in the Health Sciences

Supplementary Course Materials
Steve Krantz, Ph.D.

Introduction:

The following materials are presented as supplementary support for the content presented in class discussions. These materials have been drawn from edited and revised materials I have used for other research and statistics courses. The information has been organized to provide learners with additional information, or review data, for the content covered in class that I consider to be of importance. I have prepared them, not as a substitute for a test exactly, but as a translation of some of the arcane language typically found in statistics textbooks and as a way of including research design content which is often excluded in such texts. These materials are fair game for inclusion in examinations and for background to classroom discussions. I have included all of this stuff, which some might argue doesn’t belong in a statistics course because it is very difficult for me to separate the issues of research from the issues involved in statistics. Statistics, after all, simply represent tools used in research of one type or another and the selection and interpretation of statistics is the meat of quantitative research decision-making. An understanding, therefore, of the purposes and conceptual underpinnings of statistics requires at least a working knowledge of research and research terminology.

The logic behind the organization of these materials parallels the logic in the topical sequence found in the syllabus. It should be relatively easy to identify the chunks of content relevant to each major section of the course and to gauge you reading and preparation accordingly.

I.The Research process/scientific method: An overview and/or review

A.The process of “inquiry” in nursing is involved with the procedures used to acquire and adapt knowledge necessary to the efficient and effective delivery of clinical, educational and administrative nursing activities. The philosophy of science suggests that there are many “ways of knowing,” all of which are applied by practitioners at different times for different purposes. These “ways of knowing” include at least the following:

1.Tradition: We “know” that the way to do something is “this way” because we’ve always done them “this way.”

2.Authority: We know things because “so and so” says that something is so. Or...we do things this way because that’s the way we’re told to do them.

3.Experience (or trial and error): I do things this way because it seems to work best for me.

4.Logic: We do things this way because it seems logical or reasonable to do themthis way. This “way of knowing” also involves the systematic application of logical procedures:

a.Inductive logic: proceeding from a single observation (the specific) to broad generalizations (the general).
b.Deductive logic: proceeding from a general principle to a specific conclusion (from the general to the specific).

5.Research: We do things this way because empirical data exist which demonstrate that this is a good way to do things.

B.Research might be defined as the systematic application of logical procedures to problem solving and information generation using the scientific method. The scientific method, you’ll recall is the systematic procedure applied in research. It consists of four steps which are followed, in sequence, when approaching a problem scientifically:

Problem-------( Hypothesis--------(Data Collection--------( Conclusion
Identification Generation & Analysis

Research, or scientific inquiry, is distinguished from other ways of knowing by at least four specific characteristics:

1.A concern with theory -- building or testing;...
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