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Research Design in Occupational Education
Copyright 1997. James P. Key. Oklahoma State University
Except for those materials which are supplied by different departments of the University
(ex. IRB, Thesis Handbook) and references used by permission.




Descriptive research is used to obtain information concerning the current status of the phenomena to describe "what exists" with respect to variables or conditions in a situation. The methods involved range from the survey which describes the status quo, the correlation study which investigates the relationship between variables, to developmental studies which seek to determine changes over time.

Statement of the problem
Identification of information needed to solve the problem
Selection or development of instruments for gathering the information
Identification of target population and determination of sampling procedure
Design of procedure for information collection
Collection of information
Analysis of information
Generalizations and/or predictions


Survey Studies

Survey studies assess the characteristics of whole populations of people or situations.

School Surveys - Used to gather data concerned with internal or external characteristics of a school system
Job Analysis - Used to gather information to be used in structuring a training program for a particular job
Documentary Analysis - Closely akin to historical research; deals with documenting present situations
Public Opinion Surveys - Used to enhance the decision making process by government officials
Community Surveys - Used to gather data concerned with internal or external characteristics of a community


Interrelationship Studies

Interrelationship Studies trace relationships among the facts obtained to gain a deeper insight into the situation

Case Studies - Probes in depth into an individual situation or personality with the intent of diagnosing a particular condition and recommending corrective measures
Causal Comparative Studies - Compares the likeness and difference among phenomena to determine if certain factors or circumstances tend to accompany certain events, conditions, or processes
Correlation Studies - Determine the extent of the relationship between two or more variables


Developmental Studies

Developmental studies are concerned with the existing status and interrelationships of phenomena and changes that take place as a function of time

Growth Studies - May be either longitudinal or cross-sectional. The longitudinal technique is the most satisfactory for studying human development. The cross-sectional technique is more commonly used because it is less expensive.
Trend Studies - Used to make predictions from social trends, economic conditions, technological advances, etc. to future status
Model or System Development - Creative development of a model or system (paradigm) based on a thorough determination of the present situation or system and the goals sought



Critical Examination of Source Materials - Descriptive studies cannot produce useful findings if the investigation is based on erroneous information
Technical Terminology - An absence of clearly assigned meanings for terms results in ambiguous communications which cannot provide a solid foundation for scientific understanding
Formulation of Hypotheses - Ambiguously formulated overgeneralized or logically unsound hypotheses lead to erroneous conclusions
Observation and Experimentation - Experimentation involves the manipulation of independent variables under controlled laboratory conditions and direct observation of the results. Observing the phenomena as they exist may be the only way to examine and analyze the factors that are associated with their occurrences in a natural situation
Generalization and Prediction - Universal generalizations that permit highly accurate predictions may be ideal, but even the physical scientists are less certain today than they once were of their ability to predict in certain areas except in terms of scientific probability.




1. Define descriptive research.

2. List eight steps involved in a descriptive investigation.

3. State the purpose of survey studies.

4. Name five types of survey studies.

5. State the purpose of interrelationship studies.

6. Name three types of interrelationship studies.

7. State the purpose of developmental studies.

8. Name three types of developmental studies.

9. Discuss five methods of evaluating descriptive research.


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