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. If this is not done, the research outcome will not yield the adequate data to support or refute what the researcher is trying to prove (Duignan, 2001). 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