Research Design Differences – Qualitative And Quantitative University Essay Example

The following paper is an insight into researching which is crucial in the field of social sciences. It seeks to define the two main methods used: qualitative and quantitative and their key characteristics. Finally, it will give comparisons of these two methodologies and how each is important and applicable in its own right.

Social sciences like psychology and sociology are classified as such because of the amount of scientific input it utilizes for example, experimenting and observation. These scientific principles are applied in researching into theories and various phenomena related to that field. The following paper discusses the various research methodologies, their features, and how each is important to research processes as well as the field, being researched (research subject).

According to Creswell (1994) “A qualitative study is defined as an inquiry process of understanding a social or human problem, based on building a complex, holistic picture, formed with words, reporting detailed views of informants, and conducted in a natural setting. Alternatively a quantitative study, consistent with the quantitative paradigm, is an inquiry into a social or human problem, based on testing a theory composed of variables, measured with numbers, and analyzed with statistical procedures, in order to determine whether the predictive generalizations of the theory hold true.”

Another definition of qualitative research is:

Qualitative research is multi-method in focus, involving an interpretive, naturalistic approach to its subject matter. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of or interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them. Qualitative research involves the studied use and collection of a variety of empirical materials case study, personal experience, introspective, life story interview, observational, historical, interactional, and visual texts-that describe routine and problematic moments and meaning in individuals’ lives (Denzin & Lincoln, 1994).

According to Trochim (2006), qualitative research has the following key characteristics:

  1. It is exploratory in nature i.e. it is inductive meaning it uses general information to reduce the most important points in the research. It moves from all the available information on the research question into other areas that can and may not have been explored. It then particularizes this information into a new developed theory based on all the collected data.
  2. This is also true for the method of sampling whereby qualitative research uses the purposeful sampling of data that involves using vast number of data to make inductions on the key aspects of the research study. It follows the principle of abstraction (the process or result of deducing information in order to retain only the relevant or substantive information).
  3. It operates under an epistemological assumption of exploring a subject in its context and in its natural environment. The research questions should spring spontaneously and progressively from continued research rather than structured questions that are not obtained from immersing into the research subject, say, the life of adolescent youth in gangs. Piaget borrows this method in his research on developmental stages in case studies of children in their natural environment.
  4. It makes ontological assumptions about the world. It entails considering other points of views and in using the grounded theory approach of stressing the need for observation. It was developed by Strauss and Glaser.
  5. It mainly uses the qualitative forms of data such as interviewing, participant and direct observation and written document based on quantitative or statistical data.

The following are key features that define quantitative research:

  1. It uses randomized sampling methods in collecting data to make inductive inferences about the research area. This means that the specific observations form the basis of generalizations. In other words, abstraction does not apply here.
  2. The methodology uses quantitative research methods like statistical representation and measurements of the data obtained in conducting the research.
  3. It can be verified through validity, reliability (objectivity), precision and accuracy of the data collected. Qualitative analysis does not validate the research findings based on empirical justification but rather through credibility, transferability, confirmability and dependability of the findings of the researcher. This is the extent to which facts presented are believable, can be corroborated, generalized to another region or if they can be replicated. In respect to reliability and validity, triangulation which combines methods in a bid to achieve the forenamed. Mathison (!988) elaborates this theory by saying: Triangulation has raised an important methodological issue in naturalistic and qualitative approaches to evaluation [in order to] control bias and establishing valid propositions because traditional scientific techniques are incompatible with this alternate epistemology (p. 13).
  4. It tends to be objective such that different researchers have the same view and agree on what is being observed. Qualitative research tends to be subjective based on the researchers reality. This is why sampling must be done randomly.
  5. It mainly emphasizes the cause and effect of phenomena such that it is based on variables.
  6. It is deductive in its methodology as it springs from the specific amount of knowledge and uses this to deduce various points of the research findings to back up from the empirical findings by generalizing its structural consistencies.

Trochim further explains the key features of quantitative research that make it different from qualitative research. He argues there are very few differences in regards to data such that quantitative research, which is based on positivism and deduction, may borrow from qualitative research in its confirmatory approach and vice- versa where qualitative borrows deductive reasoning. These according to him are key misconceptions of the distinguishing characteristics of the two methodologies the level of data.

Each of these methodologies is important in its own right. Qualitative research is important in obtaining information about phenomena that needs an empirical basis. Statistical data on the population trends are useful in demographic research and interpretation. For example, statistics based on research of the infant mortality rate give insight into the demography of a state. Qualitative methods would not be applicable in this respect unless the causes of it are also o sough in the research.

On the other hand qualitative research calls for a more interpretive look into the research question. Patton (2001) calls for the researcher’s immersion into the world research. He says that the credibility of a research is based on the effort of the researcher and his ability. ” …the researcher is the instrument” Patton, 2001, p.14).

It is important to note the representation of qualitative research analysis and quantitative research analysis. In qualitative research, the report is informal and in narrative form while in quantitative it is in form of graphs and charts and tends to be formal.

In conclusion, this paper has espoused the differences between a quantitative and a qualitative research project. It has looked at their key features and how applicable they may be in regards to relating social phenomena and it has defined what qualitative and qualitative research is. It has also given various examples of how or where it can be applied in psychology among other disciplines. Lastly, it has outlined the methods of data collection and representation used in the two methodologies whereby quantitative data is mainly statistical while qualitative data tends to be non-empirical and unscientific thus ends up being subjective and impressionistic in its findings.

Reference

Creswell, J.W. (1994). Research Design: Qualitative & Quantitative Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Denzin, N.K., & Lincoln Y. S. (1994). Collecting and Interpreting qualitative Materials. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Mathison, S. (1988). Why triangulate? Educational Researcher, 17(2), 13-17.

Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative evaluation and research methods (3rd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Trochim, W.M.K. (2006). Qualitative Measures. Web.

Microeconomic Theory: Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Micro Economic Theory

The micro economic theory is a function of many micro economical factors that relate to internal affairs of a given company. The micro economic theory is based on the fact that a company’s operations and success is primarily based on the company’s position in terms of its micro economic factors. In essence, the micro economic theory seeks to predict a company’s performance in terms of its internal dynamics (micro economic factors) (McEachern, 2008).

For purposes of the micro analysis, we will undertake an analysis of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is a public limited Corporation in the US. It has a long chain of discount retail stores and warehouses located in various countries around the world. In terms of revenue, the company is deemed the largest in the world by Forbes magazine (2010 rankings). In the year 2009, the company recorded net sales of $258 billion from groceries alone and 51% of this revenue was realized from its US stores alone (Boone, 2009, p. 127).

The company had been trading in the New York Stock exchange since 1972 with various trade mark names like Asda in UK, Wal-Mart in North America, Walmex in Mexico, Wal-Mart in Puerto Rico, Seiyu in Japan and Best Price in India. The company’s operations outside the US have not been consistent because some markets have proved to be successful investment destinations while others have been unsuccessful. For example, its operations in UK, South America and China have been successful. However, its operations in South Korea and Germany have been largely unsuccessful. This has even forced the company to pull out. In this respect, the company’s successes and failures have been caused by its internal strengths and weaknesses with regard to its micro economic analysis. These factors are discussed below:

Global Presence

The company currently operates over 4,000 stores worldwide in 14 countries globally (out of the US) (Gupta, 2008, p. 14). Its worker base is over 664,000. Some countries like the UK, Argentina, Brazil and Canada are home to its wholly owned operations. The country has a strong presence in Canada after it acquired 122 stores in 2004 but as at 2010, the company operates more than 300 stores with more than 100 supercentres which were part of its global strategic plan of having additional supercentres in Hamilton UK, and Aurora in Ontario.

In addition to these markets, Wal-Mart is currently involved in a retail chain partnership with some Chinese retail stores (Hitt, 2007). In Japan, the company owns 53% of Seiyu and 51% of the Central American retail holding company in Guatemala, El Salvador and other South American countries. Other chains are located in Brazil and India while prospects are also rife to venture into the Russian market (Hill, 2009, p. 439).

Strong Brand

Wal-Mart has a strong brand, internationally. In North America, it is the biggest retail business in the grocery market. The brand “Wal-Mart” has taken many forms; close to 40% of the store’s products go by local label store brands produced by the company, through contracts made with local contractors. Sam’s Choice was the first private label brand. This brand was produced by the company in 1991. This was a local drinks brand that was produced by Cott’s beverages. In addition, it was exclusively to be sold by Wal-Mart’s retail stores. This was one of Wal-Mart’s biggest business successes because the brand slowly grew in popularity by the end of 1993 to be the third most popular beverage brand in the US.

The company still has popular business brands like the Smart price in UK. The company also produces Great Value and Equate in the US and Canada respectively. These brands increase the company’s operational revenues. Due to the success of the company’s brands, Wal-Mart is set to increase its marginal profits as a result of customer loyalty and increased sales, expected to sustain in the long run.

Excellent Customer Services and Value for Money

Wal-Mart currently has a business model, based on availing an array of brands in different product categories, at affordable prices (Antoni, 2007, p. 81). The company also enjoys a good relationship with its employees; with management often referring to them as “associates’ instead of employees (Jain, 2010, p. 49). Most or all of its retail stores in US and Canada also have ‘greeters’ at the reception who do a good job at welcoming customers (Bergdahl, 2004, p. 163).

Wal-Mart is unique in its supplier relations. This is occasioned by its unique element of not charging a slotting fee like most retailers do for shelf space. This has improved the relationship with one of its key stakeholder; the suppliers (Feigenbaum, 2003, p. 81). In turn, the company’s credit profile is improved and the unique relationship guarantees the company’s continuity even in times of financial difficulties because suppliers will always be willing to supply the company with goods even on credit. However, even though the company doesn’t charge slotting fees to its suppliers, it prefers stocking popular products in its shelves as opposed to selling unpopular goods. Sometimes, unpopular goods could be dropped from the shelves in preference of popular brands.

In 2006, the company also dropped its Layaway program, citing increased costs and decreased usage associated with its adoption (Plunkett, 2006). However, the Layaway program is still used for clients who purchase goods online and have them shipped by the company to the nearest collection centre. Currently, the company has adopted increased use of other options of payment like the 6 and 12 month zero interest financing. This restructuring has improved efficiency in the organization’s operations.

Wal-Mart’s micro economic factors are further summarized in the SWOT analysis below:

Strengths

  • Strong brand in the retail market sector
  • Strong reputation to give clients value for money
  • Excellent Services to its Customers
  • Convenience
  • High product variety
  • Strong global presence
  • Excellent inventory management due to adoption of supply chain inventory technology (RFID).
  • Excellent distribution network

Weaknesses

  • Inflexible due to varied product investments
  • Overexpansion

Opportunities

  • Mergers with other global retail giants worldwide
  • Growing economic opportunities in developing economies
  • Supercentres pose increased opportunities for more revenues

Threats

  • Local and Global competition
  • Vulnerability to economic, social and political setbacks in the country of operation

References

Antoni, A., 2007. The Impact of Wal-Mart on the British Retail Market. London: GRIN Verlag.

Bergdahl, M., 2004. What I Learned From Sam Walton: How to Compete and Thrive In A Wal-Mart World. London: John Wiley and Sons.

Boone, L., 2009. Contemporary Business 2010 Update. London: John Wiley and Sons.

Feigenbaum, A., 2003. The Power of Management Capital: Utilizing the New Drivers of Innovation, Profitability, and Growth in a Demanding Global Economy. London: McGraw-Hill Professional.

Gupta, A., 2008. The Quest for Global Dominance: Transforming Global Presence into Global Competitive Advantage. London: John Wiley and Sons.

Hill, C., 2009. Strategic Management Theory: An Integrated Approach. London: Cengage Learning.

Hitt, M., 2007. Strategic Management: Competitiveness and Globalization. London: Cengage Learning.

Jain, P., 2010. Buffett Beyond Value: Why Warren Buffett Looks To Growth And Management When Investing. London: John Wiley and Sons.

McEachern, W., 2008. Microeconomics: A Contemporary Introduction. London: Cengage Learning.

Plunkett, J., 2006. The Almanac of American Employers 2007 (E-Book): Market Research, Statistics and Trends Pertaining To the Leading Corporate Employers in America. New York: Plunkett Research, Ltd.

Social Work Practice: Work Experience And Career Development

Achieving the best in life and a career that is successful is the dream of every career minded person. In social work, however, changing the lives of people gives satisfaction to the worker. This means that properly worked out plans and commitment is necessary whenever any work is being done. The contribution to social welfare and change makes the profession of a social worker unique and different from others since it aims to improve the quality of life of individuals, groups, communities, and societies (Balloch Et al. 1998).

This paper focuses on work experience and its contribution to get career development in social work. It gives different experiences that a person goes through when in the field so as to realise the dreams of changing the society (Popple, & Leslie, 2008). The numerous experiences as a home care worker, children and youth worker, teaching assistant, family support worker, as a secretary or an administrator are described and the role they play in becoming a professional social worker. The paper tackles having experience in Psychology, Sociology, Social Policy, and Safeguarding of all vulnerable people, and ensuring a better Social Work Practice.

Relevant work experience

Home Care worker

Work experience as a Home Care Worker would contribute greatly in developing a career as a social worker as it would give firsthand experience on how to provide and coordinate care to the elderly, disabled and others within the wider community. It would ensure that experience is got in providing and coordinating personal care to people at home. One would be to assist those who want to remain in their own home with the opportunity and support to remain there with the knowledge that they will be provided with the help they may need to live an independent life.

In order to do this job it is essential that one is able to communicate effectively as well as having good interpersonal, decision making, and time management along with key awareness, and communication skills (Waine Et al. 2005). This task will involve handling other duties that will include; housekeeping, meals on wheels, personal hygiene, first aid, and general health checks on patients. One must be very critical in analysing all problems and be effective in decision making.

Children and Youth Worker

Experience as a voluntary Children and Youth Worker enables the opportunity to develop key aspects which are important in building goals and ambition of becoming a social worker. The voluntary work done in this area enables one to develop skills such as; the development of strategies in order to implement the vision of what is expected of the role and the company as a whole. This career has its challenges however,

Wittenberg, 2003 in his book suggests that the youth may sometimes be rebellious while the children are very delicate to handle; these challenges requires one to take extra care when dealing and caring for them. He also continues to say Children can also not be predicted hence one is required to skilled in techniques that will counter unsuitable behavior. It involves recruiting, training, equipping, encouraging and supporting children as well as planning holidays, the organisation of special events and ensuring the continuing development of the children. One need to be energetic and creative so as to keep the group entertained and involved to ensure harmony.

Teaching Assistant

It’s the responsibility of a teaching assistant to ensure that they assist the children in understanding the curriculum being taught. Teaching assistant also ensure that the learning environment is conducive and quires of parents and students are addressed adequately. All these invaluable skills will be of great benefit to me and others I will work with as a social worker. (Many programs where teaching assistants are required are in cases of very technical subjects such as music, art, and for children with special education needs. The teaching assistant must be very effective in planning, communication, and supervision, organised, literate, and much disciplined.

Family Support Worker

Most families which experience psychological difficulties are provided with emotional support by family support Workers. The advice van range from subjects including drugs, parenting, marital issues, or family disputes. The correct decisions and advice is critical since the family is a unit that affects the whole society. The required experience is developed from working in different areas such as; children homes, youth work projects, family community centers, probations, and nurseries.

One needs to be an effective communicator and must also be very sensitive. Very informative advice is needed which means the worker needs to be very informed of the consequences of the advice given. The worker also needs to be a positive thinker as well as emotionally strong, impartial and none judgmental and committed to follow up on the various cases involved (Waine Et al. 2005). Good listening skills and patience must be employed and be flexible in the approaches made. Time management is very essential during this time.

Secretary/Administrator

The administrator/secretary provides vital experience in building a professional social career; this is because the administrator is a vital component of the company’s success. It is also has vital importance in the companies running and success. They coordinate and implement procedures required by management and are responsibility for projects in the company (Wittenberg, 2003). They are able to gain supervisory skills that will be transmitted to the professional career as a social worker. It equips one with very valuable and transferable skills and knowledge that one continues to use in the further development of other training and future career goals to become a social worker.

As a Secretary Administrator you are the first point of contact for the company therefore the part you play as an ambassador is very important. Not only do you need to be able to multitask but you need to be able to communicate competently not just with the people you work with but with people from diverse backgrounds. This role requires the right people skills – so you have to enjoy working and interacting with people. Organisation is a key essential along with being able to work effectively as part of a team. This is essential as at times, for example, as a student, you will have to work with others to meet educational goals.

Professional expectations of the role

After acquiring the various work experiences in the above mentioned fields, one is ready to enter in to a whole new level of professionalism. This ensures competence and confidence to study a professional course and start off with the career. The professional career will work to improve the lives of individuals, groups, or communities. Such experience is vital and contributes to growth especially working through voluntary programs such as within the care environment e.g. through working and raising a family. Further developing of skills and area of concern to develop further would be working with young people and families, as the skills gained in such an environment would greatly assist in a career path as a social worker.

The duties and responsibilities in the role

The key purpose of the experience in social work is to provide appropriate information, advice and support to parents and those who take care of them within the Barnet Catchments area to help them to develop their parenting skills in order to improve the social and emotional development, ability to learn and gain health information to take care of their children’s health. As a volunteer the main duties involve visiting the family which is currently facing difficulties within the family and need some help and support as well as someone they can talk to and build up a friendship (Wittenberg, 2003).

It requires one to assist with childcare issues; for example, if the parent does not know how to interact or care for the child properly the volunteer can work with the right professionals to empower the parent overcome the situation. For instance, difficulties such as; getting out of the house to do certain things, the volunteer can help by accompanying the family to Doctors appointments, shopping or days out, so they can be out of the house, and be active thus gaining necessary skills such as time management.

The Family Support Worker

The family support worker cares for children whose parents might be experiencing difficulties like drug abuse, imprisonment, and fiscal, marital or had bad parenting themselves. They spent flexible time depending on what to need be done with the affected families, showing parents how to care for the family till they are capable of parenting by themselves, and not taking up the family role. The time for visiting should be when families with children are together like early morning.

The planned pieces of work they carry out on a number of families vary depending on their social worker recommendation and family requirements. The roles of family support are to assist in parenting by ensuring that the children health and hygiene is maintained for healthy growth and development. They also play the role of disciplinary actions by teaching them good mannerism when at home, school and in the public.

During crisis times, like when a child has been neglected the family support worker is involved into the home till alternative care is found and assist the social worker asses the situation in the child’s family after rehabilitation. They may assist parents in gaining experience in financial family budget control.

Evaluate/analyse self development

Self reflection

Social work may be challenging especially to a new in-experience starter; however, the challenge if taken positively will lead to a very exiting professional career as one puts to test what has being learnt. Attachment and internships also boosts current and future learning development and contributes highly in the steps needs to be taken before reaching that ultimate goal. It also gives ideas on revaluating oneself for the right job.

Popple & Leslie 2008 suggests that this makes individuals to be effective at work and improve on all aspects of social work qualities needed in the professional career such as; creativity, communication, diplomacy, confidentiality, and team work.

Career aims

Every person has his own dream in life. By getting involved in social work the aim will focus on being a Child Psychologist. This field presents a number of opportunities and is a dream career as it involves working with the young in society. Being a child psychologist works with parents and children who are experiencing difficulties at school or at home to work things out and fixing then it is really touching to change lives.

This ensures the access to Social Work for all people and necessary experience in related Professions; which will include; Psychology, Sociology, Social Policy, and Safeguarding of all vulnerable people, Social Work Practice, math and study skills. With the aim being already established the path will be easily set since one knows the required knowledge and experiences to be gained.

Action Plan for Personal Development

Activity Wk 1 Wk 2 Wk 3 Wk 4 Wk 5 Wk 6 Wk 7 Wk 8 Wk 9
Presentation skills
Writing skills
Confidence skills
Research skills
Mathematical skills
Social Work knowledge

The table above represents planning and achievements of activities / objectives which I do intend to attain as part of my personal development.

References

  1. Balloch, S. McLean, J. & Fisher, M. (1998): Social Services Working Under Pressure, National Institute for Social Work: London.
  2. Popple, R. & Leslie, L, (2008): The Policy-Based Profession: An Introduction to Social Welfare Policy Analysis for Social Workers (4th ED.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon
  3. Waine, B. Tunstill, J & Meadows, P (2005): Developing social care: values and principles. Great Britain: The Policy Press
  4. Wittenberg, R, (2003): Opportunities in Social Work Careers. Chicago, Illinois: VGM(what does the vgm stand for?) Career Books

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