Hunter College, City University of New York, Department of Curriculum & Teaching
Descriptive research can take many forms. Ethnographic and historical research for example are frequently considered variations of descriptive research. Descriptive research involves describing and interpreting events, conditions, or situations of the present. Generally, findings and conclusions only apply to the sample or population studied.
Descriptive research can use qualitative or quantitative methods to describe or interpret a current event, condition, or situation. A case study on the process used by a school district to select a new superintendent can be conducted and would be considered a good example of qualitative descriptive research. On the other hand, many current topics can be approached quantitatively. Data collected via surveys, questionnaires, or test results can be analyzed using statistical techniques and would also be considered quantitative descriptive research. In some cases, qualitative and quantitative research methods are combined or blended. Because of its flexibility and the fact that it deals with current topics, descriptive research is probably the most popular form of research in education today. It is also popular because data can be collected from a wide variety of sources.
Basic characteristics of descriptive research are:
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE TOPICS COVERED IN THIS SESSION, PLEASE REFER TO CHAPTER 4 AND 5 OF A.G. PICCIANO "EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH PRIMER".
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