children deprived of normal, healthy environmental stimuli in low-income, inner city environments’ could be undertaken using quantitative and/or qualitative research methods, if both are used the process will be referred to as a mixed method research. A quantitative and a qualitative approach are outlined in this paper.
Quantitative research is undertaken where a large number of results are gathered for research that will usually be in numerical form, and will be characterized by breadth rather than depth (Bryman, 2012). When undertaking research on the issue of travel to and from schools McDonald (2008) successfully used questionnaires that could be distributed to parents of pupils at selected schools in a particular area. The data collected was then subject to a statistical analysis is order to convert the data into meaningful, generalizable results. The use of self completing questionnaires is a common tool for the collection of quantitative data, as it is potential cost effective and could reach a large number of respondents (Bryman, 2012).
The use of questionnaires will be used to assess the stimuli due to the ease of use and potential to collect a large number of responses. The researcher will work with a number of schools in the target areas (inner city and low income), and several control schools that are not in the inner city or a poor income area. Permission will be gained from the schools for the questionnaires to be sent out to the parents. The questionnaires will be designed for the parents to complete as this will present fewer ethical challenges for the research and the school, as the respondents are all adults (Bryman, 2012). The questionnaire will be sent out to the parents through the school, with an explanation letter. Parents will be assured of confidentiality. Parents who chose to participate will be able to return the questionnaires in sealed envelopes to ensure the school does not read the responses and the privacy of the parents and children is protected. Sealed locked boxes may be provided so parents can place the sealed envelopes into the boxes.
The questionnaires themselves will about the presence of absence of the identified normal stimuli. The questions will all be closed answers to allow for later coding and statistical analysis. The questions may include several where answers use Likert scales. The data collected will then be subjected to statistical testing to identify trends and patterns, including a comparison of the sample population schools with the control schools and may be used for hypothesis testing.
Qualitative data is usually gathered from fewer subjects, but provides a greater level of in-depth information, usually in a narrative or text form (Yin, 2013). Qualitative research may be undertaken with the use of several focus groups, at least one for parents and one for teachers in the sample population and the control school. The format will be a guided discussion, facilitating a greater in-depth study of the issues that are identified in the quantitative research. Focus groups are often found to be beneficial and the discussion that takes place between the different members of a focus group can stimulate more in depth responses which may not be found in other qualitative approaches, such as one to one interviews (Yin, 2013). The focus groups will be recorded for later transcription and analysis.
Whatever type of research is undertaken there will need to be consideration of reliability and validity. Reliability may be defined as the repeatability; reliable research could be repeated with the same results (Patton, 2002). In quantitative research reliability is increased by ensuring there is a clear and accurate sampling process so there is a good representative sample of the target population, with larger respondent numbers less likely to result in a biased or skewed result when compared to smaller sample sizes (Patton, 2002). Statistical testing with the use of a high confidence level helps to give credibility to the level of reliability along with the larger sample sizes.
Validity is a boarder requirement and is measures against a sent of scientific method criteria, going to the heart of the way that the study was designed and conducted. This may be ensured with the use of testing the questionnaires to assess for any bias before they are used, and ensuring there is scientific rigor in the design (Patton, 2002).
With qualitative research there is a much smaller sample being examined, which makes issues of reliability and validity more problematic. The smaller sample, as well as greater difficulty in controlling variables will all reduce repeatability, and therefore reliability. Stenbacka (2001) argues that the concept should not be used in qualitative research, but that they should be replaced by trustworthiness, dependability, and confirmability. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure there is a robust and objective design, which is fully reported to increase the credibility of the qualitative research.
Bryman, A, (2012), Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press
McDonald N, (2008), Children’s mode choice for the school trip: the role of distance and school location in walking to school,” Transportation, 35, 23-35
Patton, M.Q. (2002). Qualitative evaluation and research methods, Sage
Sinkovics, Rudolf R; Penz, Elfriede; Ghauri, Pervez N, (2008), Enhancing the Trustworthiness of Qualitative Research in International Business, Management International Review, 48(6), 689-714
Yin, RK, (2013), Case Study Research: Design and Methods, Sage
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