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Assumptions Underlying Quantitative and Qualitative Research: Implications for Institutional Research

Russel S. Hathaway
Research in Higher Education
Vol. 36, No. 5 (Oct., 1995), pp. 535-562
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40196253
Page Count: 28
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Assumptions Underlying Quantitative and Qualitative Research: Implications for Institutional Research
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Abstract

For institutional researchers, the choice to use a quantitative or qualitative approach to research is dictated by time, money, resources, and staff. Frequently, the choice to use one or the other approach is made at the method level. Choices made at this level generally have rigor, but ignore the underlying philosophical assumptions structuring beliefs about methodology, knowledge, and reality. When choosing a method, institutional researchers also choose what they believe to be knowledge, reality, and the correct method to measure both. The purpose of this paper is to clarify and explore the assumptions underlying quantitative and qualitative research. The reason for highlighting the assumptions is to increase the general level of understanding and appreciation of epistemological issues in institutional research. Articulation of these assumptions should foster greater awareness of the appropriateness of different kinds of knowledge for different purposes.

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