decorative star graphic

Top of Page


Links:      •  Self Test
                •  Introduction (Print Ready)
                 •  Introduction Index

Ψ  Introduction
- Research Methods -

Research Methods

Ψ  Regardless of the research method used the "Worth of the Solution" is affected by the research design's:

•  Validity - measures what it purports to measure
 •  Accuracy - measurements are correct
  •  Generalizability - application to other populations & situations
   •  Usefulness - can solve real-life problems


Ψ  Scientific observation is a method of testing hypotheses by unobtrusively watching & recording behavior either in a laboratory or in a naturalistic setting.
Ψ  Scientific observation can expose correlations ( a relationship between two things such that one is likely or unlikely to occur when the other occurs ). Correlations are not cause & effect relationships; but, can be used to predict behavior.

Ψ  With correlations there is always the possibility that the correlation's direction is just the opposite of that proposed, or that a 3rd variable may be the cause of the changes.

It's a Mickey Mouse World , isn't it?

The Experiment

Ψ  The experimental method involves the deliberate change in one variable (the independent variable) to monitor the resulting change in some other (the dependent variable). This is done using an experimental group. At the same time a fake (placebo) change is made to a control (comparison) group to insure that results are not due to the participants expectations.
Ψ  Experiments are designed to expose cause & effect relationships.

Other Research Methods

•  The Survey - vulnerable to bias
 • The Case Study - intensive study of one individual

Studying Changes Over Time

    Cross-Sectional - A research method in which groups of people who differ in a specific characteristic (e.g. age) but share other important characteristics are compared.
    Longitudinal - A research method in which individuals are studied over a long period of time.
    Cross-Sequential - A hybrid research method combining cross-sectional & longitudinal. The "best way!".

Quantitative versus Qualitative Research

Ψ  The purpose of a quantitative approach is to describe the current environment, investigate relationships, & to study cause & effect. Quantitative research involves analysis of numerical data.

Ψ  The purpose of a qualitative approach is to provide a focused, interpreted, & detailed study of the participants & their environment. Qualitative research involves analysis of data such as words (from interviews), pictures (video), or objects (artifacts).

Ψ  It is important to focus on how these techniques can be integrated, such as in mixed methods of research. More good can come of researchers developing skills in both areas than debating which method is superior.

Growth & Development
Robert C. Gates