Unfortunately, there is an existing mind-set that educational research is not applicable to "real world" education, nor to teaching. However, as research is successfully applied in more and more educational settings, administrators and policy makers increase their appreciation for, and use of, research. To that end, teacher preparation programs, curriculum policies and teaching methods are now being consistently evaluated and modified through research.
Although it is clear that research should and must be incorporated into teacher preparation, determining which type of research approach most appropriate and most beneficial for education is one of the major debates in the educational arena. Creswell (2002) argues that it is vital that the research methodology be chosen based upon the characteristics of the study, rather than any preconceived preferences by the researcher. Patton (1986) proposed that the purpose of the study should be the driving force in any research evaluation and therefore, be the primary factor considered by the researcher. Keeping both of these philosophies in mind, the researcher should then choose the research method based on the purpose of the study and the characteristics of the study. ...
Further, the result of educational research becomes more valid and clear when the right type of research methodology is used (Creswell, 2002; Duignan, 2001; Patton, 1986)
When the purpose of study has been established, the researcher must determine the appropriate research methodology for the study (Duignan, 2001). To best select the most appropriate research methodology, researchers need to understand the three widely-used methodologies: quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods. In this paper, the three research approaches will be discussed based on their general concept, concept on education, and their effectiveness in teacher preparation program.
Quantitative Research General Concept
Hopkins (2000) explains that a researcher uses quantitative research to establish significant relationships between independent and dependent variables. The independent variable is the cause and the dependent variable is the effect (Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2007). The designs of a quantitative research can be categorized as descriptive or experimental. A descriptive design describes associations between variables while an experimental design establishes causality.
A descriptive design often requires the need of large samples of study participants whereas, in the experimental design, more often, only a small sample of participants is needed. Sampling, as defined by Marten (2004), refers to "a means by which units are taken from a population in such a way as to represent the characteristics of interest in that population" (p. 2). Regardless of sample size, the main goal is to collect a reliable sample that is characteristic of the population being studied (Hopkins, 2000).