Methodology Options for Educational Research

The basis for educational research is the scientific method. The scientific method uses directed questions and manipulation of variables to systematically find information about the teaching and learning process. In this scenario questions are answered by the analysis of data that is collected specifically for the purpose of answering these questions. Hypotheses are written and subsequently proved or disproved by data which leads to the creation of new hypotheses. The two main types of data that are used under this method are qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative research
Qualitative research uses data which is descriptive in nature. Tools that educational researchers use in collecting qualitative data include: observations, conducting interviews, conducting document analysis, and analyzing participant products such as journals, diaries, images or blogs,.

Types of qualitative research
    Case study
    Phenomenological Research
    Narrative Research
    Historical Research

Quantitative research
Quantitative research uses data that is numerical and is based on the assumption that the numbers will describe a single reality. Statistics are often applied to find relationships between variables.

Types of quantitative research
    Descriptive Survey Research
    Experimental Research
    Single - Subject Research
    Causal - Comparative Research
    Correlational Research

Combination methods
There also exists a new school of thought that these derivatives of the scientific method are far too reductionistic in nature, Since educational research includes other disciplines such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, science, and philosophy and refers to work done in a wide variety of contexts it is proposed that researchers should use "multiple research approaches and theoretical constructs". This could mean using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods as well as common methodology from the fields mentioned above. In social research this phenomenon is referred to as triangulation (social science). This idea is well summarized by the work of Barrow in his text An introduction to philosophy of education:

"Since educational issues are of many different kinds and logical types, it is to be expected that quite different types of research should be brought into play on different occasions. The question therefore is not whether research into teaching should be conducted by means of quantitative measures (on some such grounds as that they are more ‘objective’) or qualitative measures (on some such grounds as that they are more ‘insightful’), but what kind of research can sensibly be utilized to look into this particular aspect of teaching as opposed to that."

Types of combined methods
    Action Research
    Program Evaluation