What is descriptive research?
Descriptive research is defined as the practice of answering "who, what, where, when, and to what extent" questions. It is done by gathering facts and data from several sources. It also helps in describing samples in studies aimed at determining causal effects. A description is an important aspect of the scientific process in general and educational research in particular.
This type of quantitative market research or social research entails conducting surveys using quantitative variables on market research or social research tools.
Certain characteristics are fundamental to descriptive research. Some of the characteristics are:
- Quantitative Research
Quantitative research, as the name implies, is the process of gathering data from various sources and attempting to separate and analyze it. It helps make sense of the data obtained. It is a useful research tool that allows a researcher to collect data and use statistical analysis to characterize the demographics of that data. As a result, it is a quantitative research technique. For example, in the field of education, collecting information from various students and parents can help educational institutes frame better curricula and fill gaps in education.
- The nature of the research
The nature of research refers to the quantity and quality of the data. It is generally uncontrolled. Hence, a researcher conducting such research cannot manipulate the research results due to the behaviour of the data collected. Hence, the data is accurate and void of any errors.
- Direct Future Research
The data collected in the research can be utilized to pick out trends and patterns for the future. It is known as "Direct Future Research." It directs academics to learn more about why such patterns have been discovered and the connections between them. As a result, it leads researchers in the direction of useful predictions.
- Cross-Sectional Studies
Cross-sectional studies are an important characteristic of descriptive research. This type of research is done to know the maximum amount of data and gain useful insights. For example, to learn about students who are into coding, schools can conduct surveys not only for one age group but across all ages. This application defines cross-sectional studies. It helps drive academic research in schools by providing a curriculum for coding.
Methods of Descriptive Research
There are three simple methods to conduct descriptive research. They are namely: surveys, observation methods, and case studies.
The survey method involves using surveys or questionnaires to record the responses of respondents. Polls can also be included in surveys. They are the most widely used method of gathering market research data. In most cases, surveys are used to get input from respondents. A survey should be included in any descriptive research that includes both open-ended and closed-ended questions.
Surveys have the biggest advantage of being able to be conducted both online and offline. One of the reasons why surveys are so popular for descriptive research is that they allow for the collection of enormous volumes of data in a short amount of time.
- Observational methods
Observation is a necessary component of all studies, whether quantitative or qualitative. A quantitative observation entails gathering data that is primarily numerical. The information gathered should be linked to or interpreted in terms of a number. Statistical survey data analysis is used to assess quantitative observations. Quantitative observations can contain any variable that has a numerical value, such as age, shape, weight, height, scale, and so on.
For example, teachers and mentors can observe and note student behaviour on certain subjects and analyse them to understand student interests and other related information.
- Case Studies
A case study is an in-depth examination of an individual or a group. Typically, case studies lead to the creation of a hypothesis to further investigate a phenomenon. Case studies are limited in scope since they do not allow the researcher to draw causal inferences or make precise predictions. This is due to the possibility that these relationships are due to the researchers' biases rather than a naturally occurring phenomenon. Another reason case studies are limited in breadth is that they may only reflect an atypical survey responder. An atypical responder is someone who is not like the ordinary consumer, and if researchers draw conclusions about the entire target group based on this customer, the study's validity may be jeopardised.
The Benefits of Descriptive Research
Some of the advantages of descriptive research are:
- It provides diverse data collection methods. A researcher can choose various ways to conduct his research through surveys, case studies, and more.
- It contributes high-quality data since it is highly uncontrolled.
- It produces thorough information since the data obtained is analytical and clear conclusions can be deduced from it.
- It can be performed quickly and is cost-effective.
- It provides high-quality data as the research can be conducted in a respondent’s natural environment, ensuring honest inputs.
Applications of Descriptive Research
It has a wide variety of applications in education and other academic research. Some of the applications are as follows:
Research can be conducted to compare institutes, teaching materials, and various other fields. This is essential as conducting such a comparison provides an in-depth analysis of what is working and helps improve the weaker sections. Furthermore, it can also be used to know students' knowledge levels and can provide the required assistance based on it.
Validating existing conditions
This application is particularly useful for teachers to let them know if a particular teaching method is working or if it requires tweaking. A teacher can observe each student and conduct an in-depth study thanks to the non-invasive research method, the use of quantitative observation, and some features of qualitative observation. Researchers also use it to confirm any existing issues that may be prevalent in a group.
Defining student characteristics
Descriptive research can help understand student demographics and help categorize based on various parameters. For example, from a pool of 1000 students, which category of students wants a coding class can be generalized by age and class. It quantifies how many students are interested in such classes and from which age groups. This helps colleges and schools make informed decisions.