Trends in Human Development
Research Methods in Developmental Psychology
This method of research is broad based and is intended to provide a comprehensive analysis of a defined group of individuals over a length of time. Depending on the scope and intent of the study, longitudinal research can take a few months or it can take many years. The objective is to gain repeated data from the same group of subjects. A benefit of this method is that it combines qualitative and quantitative data, which benefits the data collection effort. (Ruspini, 1999)
Although the span of time involved provides for a large amount of data from which to study, this method does have its limitations. Firstly, the defined group of subjects makes it difficult to apply the findings to a larger population. Additionally, the length of time required to conduct the research leads to inevitable issues with the samples being studied (such as death of a participant, or a drop out). This will decrease the amount of data available for the study. Lastly, the expense involved in conducting the research over a long period of time can be expensive.
Cross Sectional Design
Cross Sectional Research attempts to study different segments of a sample group and at different ages. This type of research is typically done without regard for a time based analysis, in contrast to the longitudinal method above. This allows the researcher to complete the study in short period of time with a good data set. The drawback of this method is that it does not account for anything that may have affected the study before it was initiated. Additionally, cross sectional design does not provide evidence about individual development, rather it focuses on groups. (Berk, L.E. 2005)
Perhaps the most accurate way of analyzing a population sample is with sequential design. With this method, multiple samples are taken from different segments of the subject group over time....
References: Agar, M. (1996). Professional Stranger: An Informal Introduction To Ethnography, (2nd ed.). Academic Press.
Berk, L. E. (2010). Development Through The Lifespan (5th ed.)
Ruspini, Elisabetta (2002) Introduction to Longitudinal Research
Schmidt, CO; Kohlmann, T (2008). "When to use the odds ratio or the relative risk?". International journal of public health 53 (3): 165–167
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