Compare and contrast qualitative and quantitative approaches to research methodology.

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Title: Compare and contrast qualitative and quantitative approaches to research methodology. It is within human nature and instinct to be aware and to seek an understanding of the natural occurrences within our environment. Therefore it can be said, in order to attain the understanding of the unknown, we must go through specific processes of experiences, reasoning and research (Mouly, 1978 cited in Cohen, L and Manion J, 2000). This brings to light the importance of research within our daily existence, where research is not just looked upon as a practical exercise, more however as an abstract tool with a view to perceive and understand the world in which we live in and how we interpret the knowledge but most importantly how we analyse the purpose of understanding. As 'To understand is hard. Once one understands, action is easy.' (San Yat Sen, cited in Cohen, L and Manion J, 2000) The purpose of research can be seen upon as to explore the information within our environment and consider their viability and effectiveness and whether these can add value for learners to the whole experience. Research Methodologies engage in methods of investigation and sampling techniques, researchers mainly use two types of research to obtain their information, firstly Primary data; this is where information is collected independently, Primary sources refer to specific materials which are written or composed by people who actually witnessed the events that they have describe, this can be phrased as representing knowledge by 'acquaintance' (Bertrand Russell's 1912 cited in May, 1997).


Others go a stage further and view qualitative research as a search for understanding in which '...the principal concern is with ...the way in which the individual creates, modifies and interprets the world in which he or she finds himself or herself.' (Cohen and Mannion 1998, p8). Also researchers who take on this qualitative approach, who are open to individual perceptions, were felt by Bell (1993) to ' insights rather than statistical analysis.' (Bell,1993, p6). So in other terms Qualitative research focuses upon how to study people and their organisations in their natural settings. Qualitative researchers tend to look at problems and questions rather than produce and test hypotheses, which is quite the opposite to quantitative methods, the research is described in words rather than numbers and draws from a range of methods, it is particularly useful in areas where there is little pre-existing knowledge, where it is difficult or inappropriate to produce a hypothesis and where issues are complex and require in-depth exploration. There are many characteristics within qualitative research method, looking at the approach concerned with that meaning of the information is considered most important, the method allows greater freedom for the subjects of the research to determine the information gathered, so, quality and richness of information is often greater.(Miles and Huberman 1994). Qualitative research is renowned for its participation observation approach, where the researcher tries to maintain a close and trustworthy relationship with his subject, they do this by becoming involved physically and mentally in the subject's


one an idea has more of a chance to produce similar results or implications, as triangulation allows for more accurate interpretation of a topic and a more rounded picture therefore it can be stated as having a higher validity Concluding on comparing and contrasting quantitative and qualitative approaches, it can be suggested that to certain extent, that there are advantages and disadvantages within both approaches, as each method has its suitability's and each has its draw backs, quantitative research often "forces" responses or people into categories that might not "fit" in order to make meaning and qualitative research, on the other hand, sometimes focuses too closely on individual results and fails to make connections to larger situations or possible causes of the results. As these points have been acknowledged, rather than downplaying either approach for its drawbacks, through combined research it should find the most effective ways to incorporate elements of both to ensure that their studies are as accurate and thorough as possible, as 'Any research project is likely to raise ethical issues. This is particularly so if it involves people directly, but may also be the case even if you conduct your research entirely on documentary evidence.' (Blaxter et al 1997, p146). It is clear that both methods are also supported by different aspects of quality, credibility, reliability and validity throughout their methodology, as whichever method is used for a particular study, it can be suggested that the method used should be appropriate for the subject being studied.

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