One of the trends over the past decade has been the growing use of and interest in qualitative research for educational research. Qualitative research, broadly defined, means "any kind of research that produces findings not arrived at by means of statistical procedures or other means of quantification. Where quantitative researchers seek causal determination, prediction, and generalization of findings, qualitative researchers seek instead illumination, understanding, and extrapolation to similar situations. Qualitative analysis results in a different type of knowledge than does quantitative inquiry. " (Hoepfl, 1997) "During the past several decades, particularly during the 1970s and 1980s, naturalistic inquiry (or qualitative research) has gained considerable acceptance. Nevertheless, the debate between quantitative and qualitative methodologies, as competing positions, persists. It is important to recognize the limitations of viewing quantitative and qualitative methods as completely different or competing approaches" (Custer, 1996). What exactly are the basic differences between the two forms of research? Hoepfl explains it by saying that "phenomenological inquiry, or qualitative research, uses a naturalistic approach that seeks to understand phenomena in context-specific settings. Logical positivism, or quantitative research, uses experimental methods and quantitative measures to test hypothetical generalizations" (Hoepfl, 1997).
Qualitative researchers seek to analyze phenomena from multiple perspectives in order to gain an in-depth understanding of their research topic. Qualitative research utilizes case-specific methods that are designed to generate knowledge. There is much debate in the ac...
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