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Individual Journal Assignment

Natalie Roberts

ETEC 500 65C

University of British Columbia MET

Sunah Cho

February 25, 2017

Journal Assignment

The qualitative/quantitative debate lies at the heart of the articles by Denzin (2009)

and Ercikan & Roth (2006). While Denzin (2009) and Ercikan & Roth (2006) agree that

there continues to be passionate disagreement to proposed resolutions to the debate, the

articles differ, however, on several important points. Denzin (2009) believes in the

continued polarization of the two distinct research methods. He puts forth his frustration

with qualitative research not being considered scientific and his desire to develop their

own decisive criteria for qualitative educational research, without the constraints of the

quantitative measures. Conversely, Ercikan & Roth (2006) argue that this polarization is

not meaningful or productive and deems an integrated continuum between qualitative and

quantitative research as a more effective method. Ericikan & Roth (2006) believe that

purely qualitative research cannot be verified or generalized and seek an integrated

approach along a continuum of generalization rather than a continued dichotomy. The

type of research questions posed would decide where it would fall along this continuum.

This would allow the attention to be on the construction of robust research questions as

opposed to focusing on the constraints of the research parameters or criteria. Denzin

counters with, “Any effort to circumvent this collision, through complementary strengths,

single-paradigm, dialectical, or multiple paradigm, mixed-methods approaches seems

doomed to failure” (Denzin, 2009 p. 141). While considering Denzin’s passionate

argument against a mixed method or integrated research approach, and for a stronger

qualitative camp, I concur with the integrative framework position detailed by Ercikan &

Roth (2006).
Rationales and Implications

Mertler (2015) describes the goal of educational research, and research in general,

as the search for answers to meaningful and significant questions. The questions

proposed are what are going to further guide the research study; consequently Ercikan &

Roth (2006) advise that the positioning of the research question first is extremely

important. In doing so, we should employ the most rigorous methods available to answer

our research question, not be constrained by, or pit, one methodology against another.

The scope and breadth of educational research is limited by polarizing the methods.

Ercikan & Roth (2006) posit that just about everything contains both quantitative and

qualitative aspects, and state that an integrated methodology of research would be the

most beneficial as there would exist a deepening of understanding of the questions or

issues of importance. The tremendous knowledge that a researcher would need to acquire

with respect to studying and applying several different methodologies would only

increase the depth of their understanding and attend to any discomfort they may have

about one method or another. The time and intensive resources needed to acquire these

skills is outweighed by the potential benefits. As educational research often requires the

collection of data about students, and includes such areas as motivation, competencies,

and thinking skills that are not directly observable to researchers, data needs to be created

using indirect methods (Ercikan & Roth, 2011). The collection and analysis of this

information requires both quantitative (numbers) and qualitative (for example, categories)

data. Labeling these as such serves no useful purpose. What matters is that the best

approach to answer the research question is selected (Ercikan & Roth, 2011). The
attention is then reallocated from the methodology used to the research question (Ercikan

& Roth, 2006). Procuring an integrative approach allows researchers to mix and match

the strongest components and skill sets of the methods, and offsetting the weaknesses,

therefore offering the greatest chance to most thoroughly answer their query (Johnson &

Onwuegbuzie, 2004).

Continuing to dichotomize the methods does not foster collaboration between

researchers; teamwork, which Ercikan & Roth (2006) believe would create meaningful

findings, proves challenging when approaching from polar viewpoints. When educational

researchers must choose one type of research over another they place themselves in

separate and seemingly incompatible camps. This divisive, and at times dogmatic

polarization does not reflect the creative and complex stakeholders in the educational

system with which the research is designed to benefit. The variety of educational research

questions, such as the effectiveness of a reading intervention program, would require the

collection of both numeric and descriptive data. The facilitation of collaborative efforts

gives experts from different backgrounds the opportunity to work together and bring their

skillsets to the table.

The integrated framework proposed by Ercikan & Roth (2006) would showcase the

reality of how the educational research would likely be used. From my own personal

experience in education, the informal research I have conducted or formal research I have

participated in has utilized a variety of methods together in order to develop a big picture

within context. In a science unit, pre and post-test assessment pieces (quantitative

measures) were used alongside observations, conferences, and reflections with the

students (qualitative measures) to gain an understanding of the growth that occurred. It is

never cut and dry when working with the human condition. Both methods are exercised

to varying degrees when observing and recording the actions, for example, of students or

the nature of the teaching-learning process. Thus incorporating the strengths of both

methodologies is seen as an important component of educational research because of the

complexity of education systems (Phillips, 2009). In addition, utilizing both methods

allows for generalization of the results beyond participants and the research context

(Ercikan & Roth, 2006) thus benefitting the education systems.


The complexity of the educational system, the needs of its stakeholders, and the

application of the results should be taken into consideration when conducting educational

research. Just as when educating students, there is not a one-size-fits-all model of

educational research methodology to adequately gather the whole picture. Instead of

polarizing and forcing the choice of one over the other, researchers who really want to

discover the most robust answers to their question, need to utilize portions of both

approaches by selecting the strongest components of each method an employ the

integrated approach proposed by Ercikan & Roth.


Denzin, N.K. (2009). The elephant in the living room: or extending the conversation

about the politics of evidence. Qualitative research, 9(2), 139-160.

Ercikan, K. & Roth, W.-M. (2006). What good is polarizing research into qualitative

and quantitative? Educational Researcher, 35(5), 14-23.

Ercikan, K., & Roth, W.-M. (2011). Constructing data. The SAGE Handbook for

Research in Education: Pursuing Ideas as the Keystone of Exemplary Inquiry,


Johnson, R.B., & Onwuegbuzie, A.J. (2004). Mixed methods research: A research

paradigm whose time has come. Educational Researcher. (33)7, 14-26.

Mertler, C.A. (2015). Introduction to educational research: SAGE Publications.

Philips, D.C. (2009). A Quixotix Quest? Philosophical Issues in Assessing the Quality

of Educational Research. In P.B. Walter, A. Lareau, S.H. & Ranis (2009).

Education Research on Trial: Policy Reform and the Call for Scientific Rigor.

New York: Routledge.