Descriptive research is used to answer descriptive research questions:
What is happening? How is something happening? Why is something happening?
• What is the average age at which children learn to walk?
• What is the association between birth order and social skills?
• How does self esteem differ among adolescents who differ in the timing of their puberty?
• Why does school climate influence student achievement?
Descriptive research designs include the following:
1. Simple descriptive
• data are collected to describe
• researcher administers a survey to a random sample of autistic children in order to describe the characteristics of the population of autistic children
Ex1: What percent of children are autistic?
Ex2: Given the spectrum of disorders within autism, what is the range of functioning?
2. Comparative descriptive
• describes two or more groups for comparison
• researcher administers a depression inventory to popular, rejected, and neglected students
Ex1: What are the depression levels of popular vs. rejected, vs. neglected students?
Ex2: What is the percentage of male vs. female students who are popular?
Ex3: What is the percentage of males vs. females who are depressed?
Hint: It may help to think about different levels/categories of your topic and/or different subject variables.
• describe the statistical association between two or more variables
• researcher measures the student-teacher ratio in each classroom in a school district and measures the average student achievement on the state assessment in each of these same classrooms. Next the researcher uses statistical techniques to measure whether the student-teacher ratio and student achievement in the school district are connected numerically; for example, when the student-teacher ratio changes in value, so does student achievement.
Note: the researcher did not manipulate the student-teacher ratio, they simply measured/captured a pre-existing value.
Ex1: What is the relationship between severity of autism and others’ helping behaviors (the more sever the autism the more or less others help you)?
Ex2: What is the relationship between GPA and degree of popularity?
EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND DESIGNS
Experimental research is used to answer causal research questions:
Does something cause an effect? For example, does a low student-teacher ratio cause higher student achievement?