EER 500 – Creswell, J. W. (2012) Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research

Identifying a research problem (specifying, justifying, suggestiong audience)

  • Reviewing the literature (add to what is knowledge)
  • Specifying a purpose ( focused restatement of the problem – major intent/purpose)
  • Collecting data (numbers or words)
  • Analysing and interpreting the data
  • Reporting and evaluating research
  • The problem, questions, and literature determine method (quantitative or qualitative)

Quantitative research characteristics

  • Described through considering trends or need for an explanation of variable (attribute) relationships
  • Literature major role through suggesting research questions and justifying and creating a directional need for the study
  • Specific and observable/measurable purpose statements, research questions, hypotheses
  • Numerical data from large numbers using pre-designed instruments
  • Analysing trends, comparing groups, relating variables using statistical analysis and comparing results with considering prior predictions and past research
  • Report using standard, fixed structures and evaluative criteria. Objective/unbiased
  • Assessing whether certain factors predict an outcome domain of quantitative research
  • Intent is to generalise from the small to the large
  • Predictable reporting and evaluating pattern: review of literature, methods, results, discussion

Qualitative research characteristics

  • Exploring a problem to develop detailed understanding when you don’t know the variables
  • Literature review minor but justifies the problem. Relies more on participants’ views. approach is learning from participants
  • General statement purpose and questions – will develop from participants’ experiences
  • Purpose statement and research questions stated so you can learn best from participants
  •  Protocols (eg. interview, observation) – notes, words and images
  • Small number collection of words as data to reflect participant’ views
  • Typically extensive data collection to convey complexity
  • Data analysis for description and themes using text analysis and larger meaning interpretation
  • Flexibly reported using emerging structures and evaluative criteria – includes researchers’ subjective reflexivity and bias
  • Describe individuals and themes – rich and complex picture
  • “We”

Similarities and differences

  • 6 steps research process
  • Quant. problem section used to direct types of questions vs Qual. establishing importance of the central idea
  • Quant. more closed-ended approaches. Qual. participant shapes response possibilities
  • Data analysis quant. numerical/statistical  data vs Qual. analysis of words and images
  • Less detail in reporting format quant.


  • Approach to match problem. Quant. trends or explanations vs Qual. problems need to be explored to gain depth
  • Fit the audience
  • Relate to your personal experience/training

Research designs (see p.20 Fig. 1.4)

  • Are the specific procedures involved in the process: data collection, data analysis, report writing
  • Quant. (experimental research, correlation research, survey research)
  • Qual. (grounded theory research, ethnographic research, narrative research)
  • Combined (mixed method research, action research)


Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

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