Home > UCCS CLASS > Quantitative vs. Qualitative REsearch

Quantitative vs. Qualitative REsearch

Quantitative Research use numbers and averages. They sometimes look at the qualitative researchers theories and try to  prove or disprove the theories using  numbers. Quantitative researchers use more objective methods, including standardized tests.

Qualitative  Research uses narratives and stories to explain information.  This research typically attempts to generate new theories based on observations and interviews.  The researchers are interested in people and their actions and interactions. Researches accomplish this by using interviews and open ended surveys.

In the article titled “Urban High School Students’Academic Communities and Their Effects on Mathematics Success” the qualitative research approach was used. Walker observed classes, conversed informally with teachers and students, interviewed students who were nominated by their teachers. Although I enjoy the narratives in this type of research, I also wonder if the answers are too subjective. Do students answer how they want to be?  Do students answer what they think you want?  Many times, when answering these types of questions myself, I find that I answer what I want to be like, maybe not what I am currently. Curiously, the teachers were not interviewed about their observations of the students. This might have proved or disproved some of the students’ answers. The qualitative research did not give definitive answers on how to change the situation of peer assistance with mathematics. It did prove that students with peer, family or school assistance tended to care more and do better in math.

In the article titled “Differentiating Students with Mathematics Difficulty in College”, the quantitative research approach was used. McGlaughlin, Knoop, and Holliday  first administered the the psychoeducational assessment battery, then a structured interview, along with a variety of tests to determine the characteristics associated with college students with math difficulties. This study was objective and gave concrete answers as to how to remediate these students. This method was more detailed to me in what was happening with the students and what remediation needed to be used.

In considering both methods, the quantitative method seems more credible view of the issues and problems, but without the qualitative research we may not find that the problem exists. In choosing one, the quantitative is more useful, but the perfect world would included both methods in each research project.

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