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6REFLECTION AND CRITICAL ANALYSIS ON RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES
Reflection and Critical Analysis on Research Methodologies
Research is comprised of creative work carried out on a systematic manner to enable the researcher add to the stock of knowledge that includes knowledge of man, emerging issues concerning the environment of the researcher, as well as the knowledge of the man. Further, it involves the application of the acquired stock of knowledge to come up with new techniques to approach a phenomenon being studied. Research is used to confirm facts, find solutions to existing or new problems, develop new theories, and reaffirm the results of previously conducted research and support theorems.
Throughout my course on the research project and unit covered on research methods, I gained a stock of knowledge on what the research entails and different types of academic research. I learnt that that there are two distinct research paradigms in education; the qualitative and quantitative research. However, there has been a growing insight of the application of mixed research methods that make use of qualitative and quantitative research techniques particularly in education research.
Basing my understanding on the qualitative research methods from my learning outcome, I realized that it concentrates on the practice, as well as process, as opposed to outcomes. It is more concerned on the primary sources of data collection that includes questionnaires, interviews and surveys. In general, the technique primarily focuses on the occurrence of the process rather than the outcome of that process. The rationale of the qualitative research is based on the perceptions and the experiences of the participants and relates them depending on the manner in which they provide meaning in their lives. Qualitative research is also referred to as field research. Normally the technique entails the fieldwork where the researcher collects the data through observation and maintains a record on behaviour and occurrences in their natural surroundings. The qualitative research methods make use of direct observation where the researcher conducts a study on people in their natural setting through observing their interactions and behaviour. Similarly, the method employs in-depth interviews in order to obtain reliable information from the participants through the inquiry.
However, I understood that the researcher makes use a set of well formulated questions that require to be asked in a specific order in the inquiry process. In this process, the interview questions flow just like a normal conversation whereby the respondent dictates the direction of the inquiry. Additionally, the technique employs a participation method where the researcher can observe certain behaviours of the population through direct participation and aims at achieving first-hand experience. Also, the qualitative research method uses immersion as one of its techniques of data collection. In this method, the researcher immerses themselves into the environment and lives with the participants for a reasonable period of time.
Equally significantly, I learnt that qualitative research method is valuable for describing multifaceted phenomena since the data is usually gathered in a naturalistic setting. Also, the methodology incorporates local participation, as well as the requirements of the respondents and those who are conversant with the study. It gives the respondents an opportunity to contribute towards investigating the occurrence of the phenomenon and enable them to know it occurred. Additionally, qualitative technique facilitates the investigation of dynamic processes. Through the investigation of the issue affecting the society, the technique forms the basis for intervention, restoration, as well as the reconciliation between the researched and the researcher.
On the other hand, I gained more insight on the quantitative research methods. Quantitative research method is referred to as methodical empirical investigation relating to social phenomena through statistical, computational or numerical data methods. The quantitative technique’s goal is to develop, as well apply the mathematical concepts, hypothesis and theories in relation to phenomena. The measurement technique in this methodology is analogous to quantitative research as it attempts to give the basic relationship between the mathematical concepts and empirical observation. Quantitative data is referred to any data presented in numerical form, and it includes percentages, tables and statistics. In general, this implies that the quantitative researcher aims at obtaining answers to a particular narrow question and gathers information from the participants inform of numerical data in order to provide an answer to the underlying question. Further, the researcher would use statistics as data analysis tool. The main objective of the researcher is using the numbers to obtain unbiased results that could be used to generalize a bigger population under the study.
Moreover, I realized that the idea of the quantitative research is based on intentionality, validity and reliability in order to generate relevant knowledge using observations and infer a prediction. In general, the quantitative research technique is broadly used in the distinct fields of social sciences such as sociology, psychology, gender, political science, health and human development, economics, community health. However, application of quantitative techniques in mathematical sciences, for instance is physics can be considered quantitative in nature although its context differs to that of the social sciences. Nonetheless, in the social sciences the concept involves empirical methods whose origin is in philosophical positivism, as well as from the history of statistics that is distinct from qualitative techniques of research.
I learnt that, in a quantitative research, the subject matter of the research is not interfered with by the researcher since the researcher is not directly involved with studied phenomena. Therefore, this is significant as the responses from the participants are not affected by the outside researcher. Similarly, the data in quantitative research is always available in publications due to its rules, templates, ubiquity, regulations, as well other available materials that can be obtained by the research inform of copies for the purpose of research design. This implies that the quantitative technique is consistent in its procedures for researchers that are regarded as causal-comparative, for instance, the quasi-experimental. Similarly, I came to realize that quantitative research are termed as replicable and usually the tools applied for the quantitative research can be employed in conducting other research as a result of rigidity involved in developing instruments that could effectively determine a particular construct which can be applied in distinct social or educational aspects but at the same time remain valid and reliable.
However, it dawned on me that mixed methods as a research design can be applied in a single study for the purpose of understanding a research problem. In order to efficiently utilize this research design, I realized that I needed much understanding of both qualitative and quantitative research. I also learned that mixed methods design can be used when one research design (Quantitative or qualitative) is not adequately enough to answer or address the research problem or questions. I cannot hesitate on adding that the mixed methods research design is applied by the researchers who want to establish one phase or stage of a study to another in order to perform a quantitative study design qualitatively for the purpose of obtaining more detailed research information. I learned various examples of the mixed methods design such as questionnaires and interview, questionnaires and follow-up focus groups, and performance observation and tests.
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