Descriptive Research

Topics: Research, Research methods, Case study Pages: 8 (2524 words) Published: February 9, 2011
Student Learning Outcomes
At the completion of this unit of instruction students will be able to: 1.Identify examples of descriptive research (surveys, case studies, documentary analyses, developmental studies, correlational studies) 2.Identify the steps and key principles involved in constructing a questionnaire (determining objectives, delimiting the sample, constructing the questionnaire, conducting a pilot study, writing cover letters, sending the questionnaire, following up, analyzing the results, and preparing the report) 3.Understand the purpose and value of the Delphi Method (repeated surveys to get consensus) 4.Identify advantages and disadvantages of conducting personal interviews in comparison to questionnaires (see table). 5.Recognize examples of normative surveys (Physical Best, President's Challenge) 6.Distinguish between longitudinal and cross-sectional types of developmental research (study across time versus snap shot) 7.Identify examples of observational research (e.g. ALT-PE) 8.Understand the distinction between causation and association in correlational research. Descriptive and Predictive Research

You will remember from earlier readings that there are many types of research that can be categorized as "descriptive." These included the following: Surveys (questionnaires, Delphi method, interviews, normative) Case Studies

Job Analyses
Documentary Analysis
Developmental Studies
Correlational Studies
The commonality that each of these share is that they are a measure of status - rather than prediction. Of course we might choose to predict future events based on our findings but that is not the intent of the techniques described in this chapter. Survey Techniques

Imagine yourself the athletic director at Central Washington University. In addition to creating successful program you would clearly want a program that attracts the support of the student population at the university. While you might suppose that students would flock to support winning programs, this assumption may not be true. There have been many instances elsewhere of winning programs failing to attract support. Rather than let this important component of your program rest with fate, you might wonder what you could do to generate student interest for your athletic program. Although you could initiate a variety of non-scientific methods to "research" the problem, as an individual knowledgeable about descriptive research methods you could design a more logical and systematic approach to investigating this challenge. Questionnaires

Distributing carefully designed questionnaires to all or a sample of your student population would be one possible approach. As noted in your text there are some key steps to follow when constructing questionnaires. By following these steps you enhance the quality of the information you are able to obtain and also ensure that this information is in a form that can be objectively analyzed. Do remember however, that an important limitation to questionnaires is that they report what people say and not necessarily what they DO. Below the key steps involved in constructing a questionnaire are listed: 1. Determine the Objectives: From the example described earlier, it would appear that one of our principal objectives might be to determine why students either choose to attend or avoid athletic events. We might also want to know what could be done to make attendance more enjoyable. A recommended step is to list objectives, then think about the kind of responses you might anticipate, and plan how you might analyze these data. Planning the questionnaire is obviously a vital first step, and failure to plan well will likely undermine the value of the entire study. 2. Delimiting the Sample: Hopefully, you remember our earlier discussions about sampling. Some of the considerations in our example might be whether or not to distribute questionnaires to the entire student population or to select a representative...
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