Designs and Methods for Research

Back in January I outlined some of the more common types of research methods and identified their question statement type.  This list also addresses if the method is situated more towards quantitative or qualitative research, but that isn’t a rule set it stone; true- and quasi-experimental studies are listed as quantitative because that is where you will most often find them put to best use, but experimental studies can be qualitative.  In fact, the study I am planning for my training simulation as an instructional intervention to reduce neonatal kitten mortality rates will gather and analyze quantitative and qualitative data (a mixed-methods study).  I want to gather as much quantitative data as possible for validation of the intervention, but I also realize qualitative information is valuable with human performance technology.

The research method selected will be outlined in detail in the third chapter of the research thesis, known as the Methods section.  This chapter will alternate in style depending on nature of the study: quantitative; qualitative; or mixed-methods.  Much of this variation is due to the intrinsic differences of the study types; while quantitative studies look at numbers and their measurements, qualitative studies place a value to words and the subjective observations of participants.  However, both studies will cover these key elements:

      • Research Design
      • Research Questions/Hypotheses (if not previously stated)
      • *
      • Data Collection
      • Data Analysis
      • Summary

In the center of the above list (*) is where the variation is contained.  Qualitative and mixed-method studies will often have participants to outline as well as the context and research setting.  Many researchers will also cover their means to overcome researcher bias.  Quantitative studies will outline instrumentation and sample size before delving into data collection.  Some researchers will combine fields where logical, especially in mixed-method studies which may borrow more heavily in one area from one method.  For example, quantitative experimental designs use pretests and posttests of both the control and experimental groups to demonstrate the efficacy of an intervention.  I had not built this into my design but this week I recognized the need for this.  Although I am likely to have a quasi-experimental mixed-methods design due to volunteer constraints, I will use this experimental model to further demonstrate efficacy and may not create an entire sub-heading to discuss assessment in my third chapter to stay within my word-limit constraint.

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