Research Paradigm

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Chapter 2

Quantitative, Qualitative,
and Mixed Research

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
To be able to
Describe the characteristics of quantitative research.
List and explain the different types of variables used in quantitative research. Explain the difference between experimental and nonexperimental quantitative research. Explain the concept of a correlation coefficient.

Describe the characteristics of qualitative research.
List and explain the differences among the different types of qualitative research introduced in this chapter.
Describe the characteristics of mixed research.
Explain when each of the three major research paradigms (quantitative, qualitative, and mixed) would be appropriate to use.

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RESEARCH IN REAL LIFE Paradigms and Perspectives
This chapter is about the three major research paradigms in educational research. Each of these paradigms tends to bring a slightly different view or perspective to what we study. It seems appropriate to start this chapter with an age-old poem (written by the Persian poet/philosopher Rumi) that tells us that different perspectives can all have truth value and that, when we put those perspectives together, we can come away with a fuller picture of what we are studying. We use the poem to support our view of the importance of using all three major research paradigms in educational research.

Elephant in the Dark
Some Hindus have an elephant to show.
No one here has ever seen an elephant.
They bring it at night to a dark room.
One by one, we go in the dark and come out
saying how we experience the animal.
One of us happens to touch the trunk.
“A water-pipe kind of creature.”
Another, the ear. “A very strong, always moving
back and forth, fan-animal.”
Another, the leg. “I find it still,
like a column on a temple.”
Another touches the curved back.
“A leathery throne.”
Another, the cleverest, feels the tusk.
“A rounded sword made of porcelain.”
He’s proud of his description.
Each of us touches one place
and understands the whole in that way.
The palm and the fingers feeling in the dark are
how the senses explore the reality of the elephant.
If each of us held a candle there,
and if we went in together,
we could see it.
Source: From Jelaluddin Rumi, The Essential Rumi, trans. & ed. by Coleman Barks, 1995, San Francisco CA: Castle Books, 1995. p. 252.  Coleman Barks.

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C h a p t e r 2 : Q u a n t i t a t i ve , Q u a l i t a t i ve , a n d M i xe d R e s e a r c h

A

research paradigm is a perspective about research held by a community of researchers that is based on a set of shared assumptions, concepts, values, and practices. More simply,it is an approach to thinking about and doing research.In this chapter we introduce you to the three major educational research paradigms or approaches: quantitative research, qualitative research, and mixed research. Mixed research also is commonly called mixed methods research, but we use the simpler term mixed research. Not only is the label mixed research simpler than the label mixed methods research,but it also is more accurate because the quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research debates are about much more than just methods. Quantitative research was the generally accepted research paradigm in educational research until the early 1980s, when the “paradigm wars” between advocates of quantitative and qualitative research reached a new peak (Guba,1990; Tashakkori & Teddlie,1998).During the 1980s,many quantitative and qualitative researchers argued that their approach was superior.Some of these researchers were “purists,” in the sense that they argued that the two approaches could not be used together because of differences in the worldviews or philosophies associated with the two approaches.

This either-or position (i.e.,one must use quantitative or qualitative research but not both) is called the incompatibility thesis. The problem...
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