Quantitative Data Collection Essay Example
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Data Collection Instruments
This method is used where the observer wishes to directly observe how activities are done, how people behave or the frequency in which certain things occur (Weaththington, Cunningham and Pittenger, 2010). It can also be used to determine self-control, truthfulness, honesty and cooperativeness of people when they are doing certain activities. It is done in a systematic manner where the observer designs a systematic procedure for identifying, categorizing and recording in a natural or staged behaviour. By natural behaviour we mean that the observer does not plan to follow a certain way of directly observing the way things are done. Staged behaviour on the other hand means that the observer finds a location where he/she stands to observe how people behave or how things are done (Rovai, Baker & Ponton, 2013). An example of direct observation is standing on the road side and classifying passing vehicles either according to model, colour, speed, size and other characteristics which the observer may wish to determine. Direct observation may be structured, unstructured, participant and non-participant. Structured observations have a format to follow when answering the observation questions. This method is mainly used when doing a descriptive research. Unstructured observation does not follow any format and it is mainly used for exploratory research. Participant observation is where the observer gets involved in the observation process. Non participant is where the researcher does not get involved in the observation process.
There are five types of participant observations:
External participation - the observer does not involve himself in the observation process for example the observer may observe an event on Television or on video.
Passive participation – The observer is present where the event is taking place but does not participate.
Balanced participation – The observer maintains a balance in availability and participation. He partially observes and partially participates but is not fully involved in either.
Active participation – The observer is actively involved in all the processes of an event from beginning to the end. He is also expected to learn and follow all the rules involved in the process.
Total participation – The observer is involved in events which are natural to him. Total participation is the highest form of participation.
An advantage of using direct observation is that the observer gets first-hand information. This is because he is involved in the process one way or another. Disadvantages of using direct observation include being expensive, time consuming and subjective.
These are written set of questions which are presented to a respondent for an answer. The respondent reads the questions, interprets what is expected and writes down the answers (Taylor, Sinha, Ghoshal, 2006). It is called a scheduled interview when the researcher asks questions and if possible explains them to the respondent and writes the answers in the questionnaire. This is also called unstructured questionnaire. There are three types of questionnaires:
Closed-ended questionnaires – These are questions with multiple choices. They are used to generate statistics which are qualitative research. The format used and the responses can be easily entered into computer for analysis. It is used to find out how many people use a certain service.
Open-ended questionnaires – These questionnaires allows the respondent to answer in their own words. They are mainly used to find out what people think about a certain service.
Combination of close and open ended questionnaires – They include both sets of questions where the researcher wants to know how many people use a certain service and what they think about the service. When using this method, begin with closed ended questions and finish with open ended questions.
A good questionnaire must have the following characteristics:
It must deal with a significant topic which will persuade the respondent to spent his time completing it.
The significance of the questionnaire must be clearly stated.
It must be short and to the point.
It must ask for information which cannot be found elsewhere.
It must be attractive in appearance.
Advantages of using a questionnaire is that they are economical in terms of time and cost and they are uniform meaning that all respondents get the same set of questions. The main disadvantage of using questionnaires is that it is not easy to assess the motivation of the respondent unless a random sample is used.
This is a direct conversation between the interviewer and the person being interviewed. It is an attempt to gain reliable and valid answers from one or more respondents (Babbie, 2013). There are two types of interviews namely structured and unstructured interview. Structured method is very rigid and formal. The set of questions in a structured interview are presented in the same manner for all respondents. The introduction and ending remarks are the same and they are more scientific in nature. Unstructured interviews are flexible and do not follow any format. They can be altered to suit a situation. Advantages of using interviews are that they allow the interviewer to observe verbal and non-verbal behaviour of the respondent, they reduce anxiety in sensitive topics and can be used with young children and illiterate groups. Disadvantages of using interviews are that they are costly especially if the respondents have to be trained how to answer the questions.
Simple random sampling – This is a sampling method where each element in a population has a chance to be selected. The elements are identified through giving each element a unique number and then picking them randomly. The elements can be selected without replacement. They are mainly used when there is an accurate sampling frame that represents the entire population.
Every element has a chance of being selected.
It is easy to calculate the estimates.
It may be impracticable if the sampling frame is large
It ignores minority subgroups in a population.
Systematic sampling – This is a sampling method whereby one sample is first selected randomly and then the other samples are selected at a regular interval (Matthews & Ross, 2010). For example, if your first sample is 50, then the next point should be 100 followed by 150 and so on. This method is suitable for geographically dispersed samples.
It is easy to select a sample
Once you identify the population to study, it is easy to select the sampling frame
The sample is evenly distributed provided the population has the same characteristics.
It is not easy to assess how precise estimates are from only one study
Purposive sampling – It is a sampling method where an expert judgement is used to select cases that will enable a researcher to answer research questions or meet the research objectives (Babbie, 2013). It is mainly used in small where the case study requires specific information.
Relevant information to the study can be easily gathered.
It is highly subjective
Descriptive and inferential statistics
Descriptive statistics involves estimation of intrinsic population parameters of equivalent population (Rovai, Baker & Ponton, 2013). Examples of descriptive statistics are mean, standard deviation, max, min, skew, and kurtosis. An example of an article that used descriptive statistics is a study of youth risk behaviour in urban and rural secondary school students in El Salvador (Springer, Selwyn & Kelder, 2006). The characteristic of all the students were studies and results analysed through descriptive statistics. Descriptive statistics is used to compare populations with similar characteristics. No conclusions are drawn when descriptive statistics are used. Inferential statistics involves drawing conclusions about a population parameter (Matthews & Ross, 2010). Examples of inferential statistics are t , z, and F-ratio among others. Conclusions are drawn from the null hypothesis. If the null hypothesis is false then we conclude that the expected value is influenced by the sample size. An example of article that used inferential statistics is an article in medical education studies: an observational study (Desbiens, 2007). Both methods can be used when studying a group of people, for example analysing marks for 200 students. An example of article that used both descriptive and statistical methods is a research used in burns.
Babbie, E. R. (2013). The practice of social research. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Matthews, B., & Ross, L. (2010). Research methods: A practical guide for the social sciences. Harlow: Longman.
Rovai, A. P., Baker, J. D., & Ponton, M. K. (2013). Social science research design and statistics: A practitioner's guide to research methods and SPSS analysis. Chesapeake, VA: Watertree Press.
Taylor, B., Sinha, G., & Ghoshal, T. (2006). Research methodology: A guide for researchers in management and social science. New Delhi: Prentice-Hall of India.
Weathington, B. L., Cunningham, C. J. L., & Pittenger, D. J. (2010). Research methods for the behavioral and social sciences. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley & Sons.
Desbiens, N. A., 2007. The reporting of statistics in medical education studies: an observational study. Medical research methodology.
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