1. Explain the key differences between descriptive and experimental research.
The key differences between descriptive and experimental research is that each has different research questions and each has different research design to collect data. Descriptive research uses questions like, “What is happening? How is something happening? Why is something happening?” This research tends to investigate treatments such as educational programs, policies, and practices. The researcher doesn’t manipulate or change the treatment, thus the treatment is studied in its current stage and therefore doesn’t have an independent variable. There are three research designs for descriptive research, simple descriptive, comparative descriptive and correlational. In simple descriptive the data collected is to describe persons, organizations, setting, or phenomena. In comparative descriptive there are two or more groups of participants that are described and compared. The purpose of correlational design is to describe the statistical association between two or more variables.
Experimental research is used to answer research questions like, “Does something cause an effect?” One example of this question could be, does a high student-teacher ratio cause lower student achievement? Since the research needs to manipulate or change an independent variable to measure the effects on one or more dependent variables, this research needs an independent and dependent variable. There is a cause and effect because the dependent variable is influenced by the independent variable. This type of research has to types of research design, the true experimental and the quasi-experimental. In the true experimental the researcher randomly appoints the participants to the different comparison groups. In the quasi-experimental the researcher is not taking any chances, but instead is carefully appointing the participants to match the comparison group. For this design the chance procedure of the true-experimental is not feasible.
2. Explain correlational research.
Correlational research is a design used in the descriptive research. This type is used to describe the statistical association between two or more variables. This means that the researcher can make predictions according to the statistical associations. For example if the value of two variables changes then the numeral outcomes will change.
3. Explain the key differences between quantitative and qualitative research.
The key differences between quantitative and qualitative research is that quantitative uses numbers and measurement for the data. Qualitative uses narratives and observations for the data.
Quantitative research uses mathematical models and statistics to test hypotheses or to measure phenomena. For example the students’ exam scores are numbers that are used in this type of research.
Qualitative research uses observations for data in which the researcher observes the participants. For examples the researcher observes a teacher’s characteristic in his/her teaching methods. Another form to collect data is a case study and an ethnograhpy. These consist of detail descriptions of persons, behaviors, and contexts. Because the research is based on observation and narrative description, the research occurs in natural setting and less control research.
As a student for one of my child development course, I had to collect data by doing observations. It had to be in the natural setting of the classroom and without any interference on the child’s normal behavior. One of the instructors’ main concern and main advice was that I had to be objective with the observation and not subjective.
4. What is action research?
Action research is not just performing a research, and collecting data. This research includes other features like a reflection on the information acquired, developing and implementing an improved plan and finally the conclusion of the results of the improved plans. This type of research is done in classroom setting to try to improve instructions. Teachers and principals gather together to work out a plan to improve education outcomes.
As a student teacher I had the opportunity to be in a grade meeting, where the all the first grade teachers would discuss strategies that could improve reading comprehension and fluency. By the next month the teachers would gather again to discuss the outcomes.