Frau's Blog

Research Methods

Posted on: August 16, 2009

For this assignment, I am to look at the following scenarios and pick the type of research best suited each scenario and a rationale for choosing that type of research.

Scenario 1: Ten students are available for in-depth interviews. Participants will be selected based on their involvement with the peer mediation program. They will be observed over three weeks. Analysis will attempt to determine issues concerning peer mediation.

Method of Research: Qualitative

Qualitative research design focuses on personal information. Research could include journals or interviews with individuals to find out personal information and opinions. The in-depth interviews with students in this scenario, fit perfectly with what qualitative research in looking for. The scenario also picks students based on their involvement with the mediation program and not based on age, grade or gender. The means of obtaining information alone, the interviews, make this research qualitative.

Scenario 2:Two classrooms of students are selected. There are 30 students in each class; each group will have similar demographics—age, sex, race, socio-economic background, etc. Classes will be randomly divided into two groups of 15 students. Of these two groups, one randomly selected group will get training on peer mediation and the other group will not. Thus in each classroom there will be one group that is trained in peer mediation and one that is not. Analysis will occur on which groups have the fewest office referrals.

Method of Research: Quantitative

In contrast to qualitative research, McMillan and Schumacher state that quantitative research uses numbers, statistics, structures and control (p. 23, 2006). From this scenario, demographics like age, gender, race or socio-economic status reflect what quantitative research is. These statistics are simply facts about each student. There is nothing personal about the students factored in to the results, only the numbers are being looked at.

Scenario 3: A school counselor is interested in knowing how student attitudes affect the value of peer mediation to decrease the number of office referrals that are being filed for inappropriate interactions.

Method of Research: Mixed Method – exploratory design

McMillan and Schumacher also note that some research is best done with a combination of research methods (p. 161, 2006). Exploratory design combines qualitative and quantitative research, first focusing on the qualitative research. In order to find out about student attitudes toward the mediation program, the students need to give their opinions on the program – qualitative research. Whether or not the attitudes of the students will affect the number of office referrals is quantitative. 

Scenario 4:Peer mediation has become widely used in many schools. The feelings of those involved in the process are little known—either from those doing the mediation or those receiving it. The ZASK-R Acceptance Preference Survey will be given as pre- and post-tests to 40 students participating in mediation. Follow-up interviews will be conducted on a bi-monthly basis.

Method of Research: Mixed Method – explanitory design 

Explanatory research design also uses both qualitative and quantitative research, first focusing on the quantitative and then moving on to the qualitative. This scenario uses both qualitative and quantitative research design and in two phases, the student interviews and the surveys. The survey portion of the scenario is more quantitative and is the initial focus of the research. The surveys looking for statistics about the program and not about the personal feelings or opinions that the students have.The qualitative research in this scenario is, again, interviews with students, in this case follow-up interviews after the quantitative data has been researched. Finding out the feelings or the students in regard to the mediation program is qualitative information.


McMillan, J. H., & Schumacher, S. (2008). Research in education: Evidence-based inquiry (Laureate custom edition). Boston: Pearson.


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