The Nature of Quantitative Research
Quantitative Research Defined:
According to Huysamen (1997), "descriptions of quantitative research typically discern a cycle of successive phases of hypothesis formulation, data collection, analysis and interpretation." Using a deductive approach, quantitative research seeks to establish facts, make predictions, and test hypotheses that have already been stated. A large part of the data analysis of quantitative research is statistical, striving to show that the world can be looked at in terms of one reality; this reality, when isolated in context, can be measured and understood, a perspective known as positivism (Gay &
Airasian, 1999). Quantitative researchers are those who find themselves "treat(ing) their objects of study as having an existence independent of themselves and without any intrinsic meaning" (Huysamen, 1997).
The Differing Characteristics of Qualitative Research:
Somewhat in contrast to quantitative research is the practice of qualitative research. Whereas quantitative research is positivist in its outlook, qualitative research has a non-positivist perspective; this theory holds the view that the world itself is made up of different people with different perspectives and therefore, has many different meanings and contexts. While quantitative researchers work mostly with numerical data, qualitative researchers use mainly "non-numerical data such as observations, interviews, and other more discursive sources of information" (Gay & Airasian, 1999). Another difference between the two types of research is that where quantitative research seeks to find evidence which supports or does not support an existing hypothesis, "qualitative designs allow the hypotheses to emerge from patterns of recurring events" (Huysamen, 1997).
Key Features of Quantitative Research:
Quantitative research actually goes beyond just analyzing numbers. There are some features of quantitative research that are inherently necessary for this approach. A quantitative researcher must:
state both the hypothesis studied and the research procedures that will be implemented prior to conducting the study,
maintain control over contextual factors that might interfere with the data collected,
use large enough samples of participants to provide statistically meaningful data, and
employ data analyses that rely on statistical procedures.
Source: Educational Research (Gay & Airasian 1999)
Without all of these characteristics in place, the results of a quantitative research study are likely to be inaccurate and unreliable.
Due to the nature of quantitative research, certain types of research are more likely to be conducted using its methods rather than the methods involved in qualitative research. The following list contains the main types of approaches to quantitative research:
1. Descriptive or Survey Research- This type of research attempts to answer questions...