ERIC Number: ED292816
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1986
Reference Count: 0
Meaning in Method: The Rhetoric of Quantitative and Qualitative Research.
Firestone, William A.
The current debate about quantitative and qualitative research methods focuses on whether there is a necessary connection between method-type and research paradigm that makes the different approaches incompatible. This paper argues that the connection is not so much logical as rhetorical. Quantitative methods express the assumptions of a positivist paradigm, which holds that behavior can be explained through objective facts. Design and instrumentation persuade by showing how bias and error are eliminated. Qualitative methods express the assumptions of a phenomenological paradigm, which presupposes that there are multiple realities that are socially defined. Rich description persuades by showing that the researcher was immersed in the setting and giving the reader enough detail to make sense of the situation. While rhetorically different, the results of the two methodologies can be complementary. An analysis of two studies into the relationship of leadership on the part of school principals to organizational outcome indicates that there is an aesthetic connection between method types and paradigms, and it suggests some salient differences distinguishing qualitative and quantitative studies. (Author/TJH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Research for Better Schools, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.