Ensuring quality of method in quantitative educational research

Year: 2005

Author: Cavanagh, Robert, Reynolds, Peter

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Quantitative educational research methods are critiqued with a view to identifying how this kind of research can be improved. The paradigmatic considerations of ontology, epistemology and methodology are viewed from a philosophical perspective. A combination of inductive and deductive logic is used to substantiate claims made about quantitative and qualitative research. The substantive content of the paper concerns information on philosophical inquiry, quantitative and qualitative research approaches in education, and the analytic techniques specific to quantitative educational research.

The philosophical critique of quantitative methods highlights limitations of the method in dealing with the temporal and socio-cultural nature of education. This focuses on a bias in the method where more attention is given to methodology than to ontology and epistemology. However, a detailed examination of specific aspects of the quantitative approach suggests that the limitations and bias could be addressed without detracting from the inherent scientific rigour of the incumbent methods.

This is viewed as achievable by incorporating philosophical considerations in the conceptualisation of theoretical models and by exploiting fully multi-variate techniques, statistical modelling techniques, and other recent developments in the construction of attitude scales and analysis of rating scale data.