The aim of descriptive research is to verify formulated hypotheses that refer to the present situation in order to elucidate it. Descriptive research is thus a type of research that is primarily concerned with describing the nature or conditions and degree in detail of the present situation (Landman 1988. p. 59).
Descriptive Research also aims to show what already exists in a population or group of people. For example, an opinion poll that is conducted to determine the most popular Presidential candidate in an upcoming election, or the type of research used in this paper.
Here are the results of an interview carried out in a New York City school. During the interview, a black boy enters a room where there is a big, friendly white interviewer. The interviewer puts a fire engine or a block on the table between them, and asks the boy to describe what he can about the object. In the conversation below, the remarks in parentheses are the interviewer's
Here we can see the same kind of monosyllabic and defensive behavior and way of speech which produces a situation in which the child is in an asymmetrical situation where anything he says can, literally, be held against him, as Bereiter reported in his work. The child has seems to have acquired a number of devices to avoid saying much in a situation like this, and he strives quite hard to achieve this end.
If one takes this interview as a measure of the verbal capacity of the child, it must be as his capacity to defend himself in a hostile and threatening situation. But unfortunately, thousands of such interviews are used as evidence of the child's total verbal capacity, or more simply his verbality: it is argued that this lack of "verbality" explains his poor performance in school. (Labov, W 1972 p. 8)
The verbal behavior that is shown by the child in the interview above is not as a result of ineptness on the part of the interviewer. Rather, this is the result of regular sociolinguistic factors that are in operation both on the child and the adult in this asymmetrical situation. In urban ghetto areas, it is usual to encounter such behavior. Clarence Robins has worked with a group of boys ten to twelve years old, known as the Thunderbirds, and who dominated the preadolescent group in a low-income project in Harlem. In an interview involving a few younger brothers of the Thunderbirds aged between eight and nine years old, the question and answer approach was utilized, but this old approach did not work. Below is an extract from the interview between Clarence and Leon, an eight year old boy.
CLARENCE: What if you saw somebody kickin' somebody else on the ground, or was using a stick, what would you do if you saw that
CLARENCE: If it was supposed to be a fair fight--
LEON: I don'