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Research Terms


The many methods used all have names. In a brave attempt at getting my head around these I’ve started this list for the terms I stumble upon in H809 and related reading.

CRD : A cluster randomised design – by class as it is impractical to teach different things to the same group. (Torgerson and Torgerson 2001. p. 321)
CCT : Case Control Trial – A characteristic of this approach is that the two sets of schools may well be different in a number of aspects other than the intervention being tested, and this may affect the results. i.e. Schools needed to have been either chosen randomly or chosen because the had a similar intake and similar results.
Epistemological : the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity. (Merriam-Webster)
Ethnography : studying a particular culture by learning to live the life of its members (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1994).
Exploratory RCT: The explanatory trial design is probably the one with which most people are familiar.   (Torgerson and Torgerson 2001. p. 320)
Evidence based research: Randomized Control Trials  (RCT) – as Dr B. Price Kerfoot et al (2006-2012)
Interpretive paradigm: qualitative methods.
IRD. An individual randomised design – as with Spaced Education at Harvard Medical School under Dr. B. Price Kerfoot. (Torgerson and Torgerson 2001. p. 321)
Positivism: a belief in the application of a particular model of the methods of the natural sciences. In Wegerif: verification of hypotheses, numerical measurement, tests of statistical significance and experiments.
The pragmatic RCT : the environment in which the trial is conducted is kept as close to normal educational practice as possible, though the sample has to be far larger to detect smaller changes. (Torgerson and Torgerson 2001. p. 320)
Quantitative: of, relating to, or involving the measurement of quantity or amount. (Merriam-Webster) Coding schemes and publicly verifiable criteria to make categorisations. (Wegerif and Mercer.  1997. p. 271)
Qualitative: of, relating to, or involving quality or kind. (Merriam-Webster) Interpretative method (Torgerson and Torgerson, 2001) Interpretative analysis of transcribed speech = qualitative.  Are the techniques valid? The study of shared knowledge over time. Crook (1994) ‘Qualitative analysis can be effective for generating theories but not so effective for rigorously testing them (Hammersley, 1992).


Hammersley, M. (1992) What’s Wrong with Ethnography. London: Routledge.

Kerfoot.B.P., Yineng Fu, Baker.B., Connelly.D., Ritchey.M.L., Genega.M.G. (2010) Online Spaced Education Generates Transfer and Improves Long-Term Retentionof Diagnostic Skills: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Journal of the American College of Surgeons, Volume 211, Issue ,September 2010, Pages 331-337.e1, ISSN 1072-7515, 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2010.04.023.

Torgeson.C.J., and Torgerson.D.J. (2001) The Need for Randomised Controlled Trials in Educational Research British Journal of Educational Studies , Vol. 49, No. 3 (Sep., 2001), pp. 316-328

Just what is qualitative research?

I stumbled upon this paper which looked rather handy in relation to qualitative and quantitative research.

Qualitative Research

Research begins at the other end, pursues patterns of cause and effect by replicating possible experiments in controlled settings …

Quantitative Research

Investigates a priori hypotheses, examines what people are doing and how they interpret what is occurring …

The understanding and use of the information is a social phenomenon defined by time, place, persons, and events. These understandings were unearthed through the ethnographic, qualitative process. (Morse, 1984)

Interviews, generally open ended, usually included (Morse, 1994):

  1. experience-behavior questions,
  2. opinion-value questions,
  3.  probes of the interviewee’s feelings,
  4. requests for factual information,
  5.  sensory types of questions, such as what the interviewee saw or heard, 6) background-demographic queries,
  6. time-frame questions. I wanted the interview to help me understand the situation from the perspective of the interviewee.

(Biklen & Moseley, 1988; Goetz & LeCompte, 1984; Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Patton, 1983; Spradley, 1980; Stainback & Stainback, 1988).

“The fundamental principle of qualitative interviewing is to provide a framework within which respondents can express their understandings in their own terms” . (Patton, 1983, p. 205).

Naturalistic Research Paradigm

To ensure that I did not impose my bias on the information, I corroborated my findings by triangulation–the convergence and analysis of multiple data sources. (Morse 1994)

My awareness of myself as an influence is a basic principle in qualitative research (Blumer, 1969; Bogdan & Biklen, 1982; Goffman, 1959; Guba, 1985; Miller, 1982; Perinbanayagam, 1985a, 1985b; Spradley, 1980; Stainback & Stainback, 1988; Strauss, 1987). (Morse 1994)

Qualitative research tools as triangulations, notes, and transcripts are empty exercises until and unless the people–the focus of the research–trust the researcher. (Morse 1994)

Therefore, conducting qualitative research is like walking into the wilderness: Some trails are well trodden, whereas others not visible at first sight. The map, which helps a group to decide which forks to take, becomes clearer as each person interviewed and observed along the path suggests turns to take. In keeping with the principles of qualitative research, I saw myself as a catalyst to help people put their thoughts into words. As a consequence, I felt an obligation to go with the paths they suggested, even when these differed from ones I wished to explore. The choice was always dictated by my interactions with the participants in the study and by their perceptions and their concerns.

Truth “comes not from the thing itself but rather from the interpretation given to it by a person” (Stainback & Stainback, 1988).


International Journal of Qualitative Methods


Agostinho, S. (2004). Naturalistic inquiry in e-learning research. International Journal of Qualitative methods, 4(1), Article 2. Retrieved [insert date] from http://www.ualberta.ca/~iiqm/backissues/ 4_1/pdf/agostinho.pdf

Lincoln, Y. & Guba, E. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

(From Amazon on this frequently cited ‘bible’ Naturalistic Inquiry provides social scientists with a basic but comprehensive rationale for non-positivistic approaches to research. It confronts the basic premise underlying the scientific tradition that all questions can be answered by employing empirical, testable, replicable research techniques. The authors maintain that there are scientific `facts’ that existing paradigms cannot explain, and argue against traditional positivistic inquiry. They suggest an alternative approach supporting the use of the `naturalistic’ paradigm.)

Morse, MT 1994, ‘Just what is qualitative research? One practitioner’s experience’, Journal Of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 88, 1, p. 43, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 February 2013

Stainback, S. & Stainback, W. (1988). Understanding and conducting qualitative research. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

Wiggins, BJ 2011, ‘Confronting the dilemma of mixed methods’, Journal Of Theoretical And Philosophical Psychology, 31, 1, pp. 44-60, PsycARTICLES, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 February 2013.


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