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Lecture 3

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Dennis Wall

Quantitative and Qualitative Research I. Quantitative research i. - hard data ii. - linear research path [below] II. Qualitative research i. - soft data -> highly interpretive [eg. Feelings, experiences; open ended questions] ii. - non-linear research path [not straight forward -> goes back and forth] 1 III. Contrasting qualitative and quantitative research Quantitative Qualitative numbers words researcher‟s view participant‟s view distance proximity theory testing theory emergent static [questionnaire; 1 time] process [back and forth] structured unstructured [opinion] hard, reliable data rich, deep data generalization contextual [not the same in other situations] behaviour meaning [what the indiv says] macro micro artificial settings [in a lab] natural settings [bar, school] 2 Issues in quantitative design I. Unit of analysis - the unit of analysis is the major entity that you are analyzing in your study - any of the following could be a unit of analysis in a study: - individuals - groups - artifacts (books, photos, newspapers) - geographical units (town, census tract, state) - social interactions (dyadic relations, divorces, arrests) II. Two research fallacies [better known fallacies] An error you would make based on some false perception i. - ecological fallacy - the ecological fallacy occurs when you make conclusions about individuals based only on analyses of group data ii. - exception fallacy or reductionism - occurs when you reach a group conclusion on the basis of exceptional cases III. Exhaustive and exclusive attributes of variables i. - exhaustive attributes ii. - exclusive attributes IV. Variables in quantitative research 1. Narrowing and clarifying the problem The following general questions can be used to unpack a problem: • What are the major concepts? • What is happening here? • What are the issues? • Is one thing affecting, causing, or producing a change in something else? • Why is this so? 3 Example: “Some students get better marks than others” RQ: “This study will consider the relationship between study habits and student success” Four possible explanations: i. some students are smarter than others ii. some students study more than others iii. some students eat better meals than others iv. some students enjoy studying more than other students do Example: The Smith family has to decide on whether to send their daughter to a public school or a private school 1. Is one system of education demonstrably better than another?: • in terms of sport? • in terms of test results? • in terms of social life? 2. How do families make decisions like this? • what factors do they consider? • do the children participate? 3. Do socio-cultural factors shape these family decisions? • is sex or gender an issue? • do ethnic groups differ? • is social class a factor? 4 2. Stating the Problem A hypothesis is a statement that asserts a relationship between at least two concepts i- it has at least two variables ii.- it expresses a causal or cause/effect relationship between the variables (directionality) iii.- it can be expressed as a prediction or an expected future outcome iv.- it is logically linked to a research question (and theory) v.- it is falsifiable, i.e. it can be tested against empirical evidence and shown to be T/F Example: “attending religious services reduces the probability of divorce” BUT it should be stated in predictive terms: “couples who attend religious services have a lower divorce rate than couples who rarely attend religious services At an abstract level, a hypothesis consists of at least two CONCEPTS A CONCEPT is a kind of VARIABLE: i.- an idea that stands for something ii.- an idea that represents a class of things iii.- a general categorization of an impression of something A hypothesis can take the following forms: „Concept X causes concept Y‟ or „Concept X is related to concept Y‟ Example (p. 97, in Neuman/Robson): Example of “students‟ grades” 5 Observation: „some students get better marks than others‟ Topic: “the impact of the amount of study on marks” - two concepts: „study‟ and „marks‟ Distinguishing between two types of variables: i- independent variable and ii.- dependent variable - studying PRODUCES better marks OR/ - better marks DEPENDS on studying A variable is comprised of attributes on which cases differ from one another A variable is a special type of concept that varies or changes in quantity, intensity, or amount e.g. - gender is a variable because it can take on two values: male and female male and female are constants Example: “the higher the socioeconomic status of the husband, the greater the amount of house work he will perform” Concepts: “socioeconomic status” “housework” There is a relationship between these two concepts that says as one concept increases, so does the other Example: 6 RQ: “This study will explore the relationship between the type of crime committed and the severity of the sentence”
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