Research design can be defined as the strategies or plans which a researcher adopts to enable him/her carry out his problem of investigation.Research design is used for the purpose of obtaining data to enable the researcher test hypotheses or answer research questions.
It is an outline that guides the researcher in his effort to generate data for his study.
In simple terms we can think of two approaches to investigations in educational research as quantitative and qualitative.
Quantitative research is a means for testing objective theories by examining the relationship among variables. In this case we use numbers to describe the outcome.
Quantitative research methods were originally developed in the natural sciences to study natural phenomena. However, examples of quantitative methods now well accepted in the social sciences and education include:
– survey designs
– experimental designs
– ex post facto designs
Qualitative research is a means for exploring and understanding the meaning individuals or groups ascribe to a social or human problem. It is the best used to understand concepts and phenomenon, especially if little research has been done on the topic and research problem.
Qualitative methodology is useful if the researcher does not know important variables to examine. In qualitative research design we use words to describe the outcomes.
Qualitative research methods were developed in the social sciences to enable researchers to study social and cultural phenomenon. Examples of qualitative methods include:
• Action Research aims to contribute both to the practical concerns of people in an immediate problematic situation and to the goals of social science by joint collaboration within a mutually acceptable ethical framework;
• Case Study Research – a case study is an empirical enquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context;
• Ethnography- the ethnographer immerses her/himself in the life of people s/he studies and seeks to place the phenomena studied in its social and cultural context.
Some of the examples of research design are given as follows.
*Historical Research Design – The Evolution of the Laptop Computer
*Case and Field Research Design – Observations of Gifted Children in the Nigerian Classroom
*Descriptive or Survey Research Design – The Public View of African Leaders
*Correlational Research – Impact of Breastfeeding’s on Newborn Development
*Causal-Comparative or Ex Post Facto Research Design – pupils with nursery education could be more fluent in spoken English than those who don’t have
*Developmental or Time Series Research Design – Monthly Peer Counseling and the Juvenile Delinquency
*Experimental Research and Quasi Experimental Research Design – Effect of Water with Fluoride on Dental Health
Research Study conducted by Dr.(Mrs) F.K. Lawal of Science Education Department,ABU Zaria on research trends and design pattern among undergraduate revealed that survey research design is popularly used,followed by experimental and lastly ex-post facto design which does not appear to be popular among the students.
The above finding is supported by other researchers such as Ogunleye(1990) and Ivowi(2011).
What then is a survey research?
A survey research attempt to describe the present condition of a given phenomenon by collecting data from a defined population.It explores semi-crude relationship among phenomena, and can be used to investigate the characteristics of people,groups or objects.
Such characteristics may include attitudes,interest,opinions,leadership styles,job satisfaction,e.t.c
In a sample population,the researcher studies only a section of the population using appropriate sampling techniques or procedures,whereas in a census population,the whole population is studied.
In a survey research,data could be collected through the use of questionnaires,observation,interviews e.t.c.
Survey research is therefore regarded as either a fact finding approach or a means for discovering significant interrelationship among phenomena.
Example of a survey research topics are as follows:
1. A study of teacher attitudes towards the use of ICT in teaching & learning.
2. A survey of experts opinion on teachers realization of the objectives of science education in schools.
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