Descriptive theories are the most common theories. They classify or describe characteristics or dimensions of an individual, group, situation, or event by summarizing similarities found in discrete observations. Descriptive theories mostly required when remarkably little about the phenomenon under discussion (Ellis and Yair, 2008).
Descriptive theory described into two categories, that is, classification and naming. A classification theory is elaborate in that it defines how the characteristics or dimensions of a given phenomenon interrelated structurally. Naming theories describe the characteristics or dimensions of some phenomenon. The dimensions may be exclusive, overlapping, mutually exclusive or sequential. A classification theory can be mostly referred to as taxonomies or typologies.
A descriptive theory is tested and generated by descriptive research. This research usually referred to as explanatory research. Explanatory research specifically directed towards knowing the existing characteristics of the real world relative to the question being researching upon.
A descriptive may or may not use an empirical method. Non empirical methods include historic and philosophic inquiries. Philosophic inquiries classify and describe phenomena through critical discussion. Moreover, historical research directed towards the description of phenomena that occurred at an earlier time (Harlow, 2011).
A descriptive study employing the empirical method involves observation of a phenomenon in its natural setting. Data gathered by a participant or a non participant observation, as well as by structured interview schedule, questionnaires or by open ended. The raw data gathered in a descriptive study may be quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative data usually analyzed by various parametric or non parametric measures of central tendency and variability. Qualitative data may be analyzed by a means of content analysis. This technique sorts data into a priori category or into a category that emerge during the analysis (Kerlinger, & Lee, 2000). Empirical- descriptive research involves surveys, ethnographies, case studies and phenomenological studies. A case study is a systematic and intensive investigation of many factors for a group, a community or a small number of individuals. Surveys yield accurate and factual descriptions of an intact phenomenon. Surveys use structured instruments for collecting data although open ended questions may be included in the instrument (Harlow, 2011). The method of grounded theory yields a description of social situations and processes in those social situations. Every piece of data constantly compares with every other piece in order to discover the dominant social processes that characterize the phenomenon under study. Ethnography yields a theory of cultural behavior for a