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The Quantitative Research and Appreciative Inquiry

Quantitative methods measure the difference between the before and the after states of a research object of interest to quantify the state at that moment of the object being studied. Quantitative analysis of the measurements usually involves statistics, and the study results are usually also communicated using statistics. Quantitative methods can be found in all forms of science in which measurement is involved.

The debate between quantitative and qualitative researchers is based upon the differences in assumptions about what reality is and whether or not it is measurable. The debate further rests on differences of opinion about how we can best understand what we know, whether through objective or subjective methods.

The use of reliability and validity are common in quantitative research and now it is reconsidered in the qualitative research paradigm. Since reliability and validity are rooted in positivist perspective then they should be redefined for their use in a naturalistic approach. It is also through this association that the way to achieve validity and reliability of a research get affected from the qualitative researchers’ perspectives which are to eliminate bias and increase the researcher’s mindfulness of a proposition of phenomenon.  Like reliability and validity as used in quantitative research are providing springboard to examine what these two terms mean in the qualitative research paradigm, triangulation as used in quantitative research to test the reliability and validity can also illuminate some ways to test or maximize the validity and reliability of a qualitative study. Triangulation is defined to be “a validity procedure where researchers search for convergence among multiple and different sources of information to form themes or categories in a study” (Creswell & Miller, 2000, p. 126). Therefore, reliability, validity and triangulation, if they are relevant research concepts, particularly from a qualitative point of view, have to be redefined in order to reflect the multiple ways of establishing truth.

Triangulation of methods provides the researcher with a greater degree of confidence in reporting findings, although subjective interpretation is still needed. I will use triangulation method in my future research on teacher`s professional development because it has advantages, for example:

  • There were some perspectives which could only be accessed via one method, eg. teachers’ management of time and their engagement with reading.
  • Findings from one method could be put in a wider perspective through comparison with those from other methods, eg. teachers’ accounts of their online activity could be compared to the objective data concerning frequency of message postings.
  • Consistency between findings gave greater authority in reporting, eg. student teacher value the learning material.

In my opinion, the only disadvantage with triangulation of methods is its time consuming.

Data collection for quantitative methods generally falls into two categories: survey instruments” or “tools” and biological measurements. There are many outcome questionnaires, all carefully developed and researched so that their strengths and weaknesses are known.

I need to begin to employ different ways of studying online learning that will increase the rigor of the research results. Design based research is one increasingly popular approach that will likely strengthen some of the research conducted on online learning. I also need to be aware of the complexities of conducting mixed research and some of the issues that can be overlooked. Further, and even more importantly, I need to be aware that intentionally and systematically applying mixed research has the possibility to improve my research in distance education area and may increase the fields’ understanding of the nuances of online learning. Creswell and Plano Clark have concluded that ‘today, we see cross-cultural international interest, interdisciplinary interest, publication possibilities, and public and private funding opportunities for mixed methods research’ (2007, p. 18).

The overall purpose and central premise of mixed methods studies is that the use of quantitative and qualitative approaches in combination provides a better understanding of research problems and complex phenomena than either approach alone (Creswell & Plano Clark 2007). Mixed research, according to Creswell and Plano Clark (2007), is a research design with philosophical assumptions as well as methods of inquiry. As a methodology, it involves the philosophical assumptions that guide the direction of the collection and analysis of data and the mixture of qualitative and quantitative approaches in many phases in the research process. As a method, it focuses on collecting, analyzing, and mixing both quantitative and qualitative data in a single study or series of studies. Mixed researchers believe that “the use of quantitative and qualitative approaches in combination provides a better understanding of research problems than either approach alone” (p. 5).

Conducting mixed research is more complicated than most researchers realize. It is more complex than simply conducting quantitative and/or qualitative studies separately. Further, because it is a relatively new form of research. Therefore, I need formal training on how to conduct mixed research. I need to carefully consider both why I am integrating quantitative and qualitative research in my study and how I am going to accomplish this integration in practice.

A large-group method, often used at times of organizational change, to discover the most valuable aspects of the organization’s past that should be carried forward into its future. The Appreciative Inquiry (AI) process, developed by David Cooperrider and Diana Whitney, is a positive way to incorporate change in an organization that focuses on the “high moments” of people and which values this complexity. AI can help people develop healthy relationships by mobilizing and building high quality connections between students and students, teachers and teachers, teachers and students, parents and students, and teachers and parents (Cooperrider, Whitney, & Stavros, 2008).

Appreciative Inquiry is not magical, but by following the process, it provides a different pro-active angle of vision for school stakeholders to rise to the occasion by bringing out the best in each other.

References:

Cooperrider, D., Whitney, D., and Stavros, J. M. 2008. Appreciative Inquiry Handbook: For Leaders of Change.  Crown Custom Publishing: OH and Berrett-Koehler Publishers: CA

Creswell, J. W. & Miller, D. L. 2000. Determining validity in qualitative inquiry. Theory into Practice, 39(3), 124-131

Creswell JW & Plano Clark VL 2007. Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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