Chapter 2

Answers to Study Questions


2.1.      Describe the key features of quantitative and qualitative research.

Just look at Table 2.1, which shows the key characteristics of these two approaches in their pure or extreme forms as well as the characteristics of mixed research. I will mention a few of these here. Quantitative research uses the deductive or “top down” scientific method; it is used for description, explanation, and prediction. It is based on quantitative data, in particular on the analysis of variables. The results are statistical and a goal is to generalize the results. In qualitative research, in contrast, the “bottom up” or inductive method is used; it is used primarily for the purposes of description and exploration. It is based on qualitative data which during analysis are examined for patterns, themes, and holistic features. A narrative report is presented and generalization is usually not a goal.


Here is Table 2.1 for your convenience:




2.2.      Describe the key features of mixed research.

Mixed research is the third and newest research paradigm. As you can see in Table 2.1 it tries to mix the best of qualitative and quantitative research into research studies. Philosophically, mixed research takes an eclectic, pragmatic, and commonsense approach, suggesting that the researcher mix quantitative and qualitative in a way that works best for the given research question being studied in a particular context. Mixed research uses both deductive and inductive methods, obtains both quantitative and qualitative data, attempts to corroborate and complement findings, and takes a balanced approach to research. Later in the chapter you will learn about the fundamental principle of mixed research which states that when planning mixed research, the researcher should mix methods or procedures in a way that the resulting mixture or combination has complementary strengths and nonoverlapping weaknesses. 


2.3.      What is the difference between a categorical variable and a quantitative variable? Think of an example of each.

A categorical variable varies in type or kind and a quantitative variable varies in degree or amount. An example of the former is gender, and an example of the latter is class size.


2.4.      Why is experimental research more effective than nonexperimental research when a researcher is interested in studying cause and effect?

Strong experimental research designs (i.e., the best experiments) include both manipulation and random assignment. “Manipulation” is an action taken by the researcher in the world (e.g., providing a treatment to one group and a control condition to another group); manipulation allows us to see a manipulation first, and then observe the outcome or result of the manipulation. “Random assignment” makes the groups similar on ALL extraneous variables at the beginning of the experiment; hence, the only difference between the groups will be the level of independent variable received, allowing the differences observed after the experiment is completed to be attributed to the manipulated independent variable.


2.5.      What are the main problems with the simple cases of causal-comparative and correlational research?

The problem with BOTH of the simple cases is that the researcher has no manipulation, no random assignment, and is only able to determine whether a statistical relationship is present. Observing a relationship is NOT enough information to attribute causation. To make a causal attribution, one need to meet three conditions: 1) relationship, 2) correct time order, that is, if A causes B then A must precede B in time, and 3) alternative explanations must be ruled out. Again, all the simple cases give us is a relationship (i.e., condition 1). (On the other hand, a well conducted strong experiment satisfies all three conditions.)


2.6       What are two variables that you believe are positively correlated?

Study time the night before an exam and test grades (i.e., the greater the study time, the higher the grades).


2.7.      What are two variables that you believe are negatively correlated?

Amount of time spent partying the night before a test and test grades (i.e., the greater the time spent partying, the lower the grades)..


2.8.      What are the different types of qualitative research, and what is the defining feature of each of these?

The types are phenomenology, ethnography, case study research, grounded theory, and historical research. Here are the definitions, with the key ideas underlined:

(a) Phenomenology: a form of qualitative research in which the researcher attempts to understand how one or more individuals experience a phenomenon.

(b) Ethnography: a form of qualitative research focused on describing the culture of a group of people.

(c) Case study research: a form of qualitative research that is focused on providing a detailed account of one or more cases.

(d) Grounded theory research: a qualitative approach to generating a theory from the data that the researcher collects.

(e) Historical research: research about events in the past.


2.9.      What are the different types of mixed research, and what is the defining feature of each of these types of research?

There are two types of mixed research: mixed method and mixed model research. Here are the definitions of the two types:

(a) Mixed method research: research in which the researcher uses qualitative research paradigm for one phase and the quantitative research paradigm for a different phase of the study. 

(b) Mixed model research: research in which the researcher uses both qualitative and quantitative research within a stage or across two or more of the stages in the research process.



2.10.    What are the three research paradigms in education and what are the major types of research in each of these paradigms? (Hint: We show the answer in Figure 2.3.)

They are quantitative research, qualitative research, and mixed research.

Quantitative research has two major subtypes: experimental and nonexperimental research.

Mixed research also has two major subtypes: mixed method and mixed model research.

Qualitative research has five major subtypes: phenomenology, ethnography, case study, grounded theory, and historical research.


Here is Figure 2.3 for your convenience.