Strengths and Weaknesses of Different Research Methods


Table of Contents

Since ancient times, different cultures and societies have devised ways to advance their way of doing things. In this process, different societies discovered ways to make things better especially through innovation. However, within the past two centuries the process of colonization or empire building altered this process either in a positive or negative way. In the United States, this process has been changed by various events in such a way that different cultures either gained or lost. For instance, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade brought many African slaves into the country. These slaves faced the worst form of social stratification in that they were denied their basic human rights. This meant that the slaves and their children could not enjoy the same amenities as other immigrants in the country. 

However, it is not surprising to note that other immigrants or societies who immigrated to the United States in search of better opportunities had better chances at succeeding even in education as they had the means to even build their own schools. Academic achievements in the United States have varied across societies and cultures for decades. Fortunately or unfortunately, certain cultures or societies have emerged to be better while others have not. For instance, Indian and Chinese students have over the years succeeded in their educational endeavours much better than their African and Caribbean counterparts do. 

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Several factors are attributable to these deviations. Some of these factors may rely on location, ethnicity, social status, among other factors. Nevertheless researchers have tried to use different research methods to come up with potential reasons why this is the case. For instance, some researchers have used overt non-participant observation to conclude their findings while others have used written questionnaires to base their arguments. Both these research method involve both qualitative and quantitative aspects. The two methods have their benefits and drawbacks just as is the case in other research methodologies. 

The first method of using overt non-participant observation has been widely used. By not involving participants, it is possible for researchers to understand the students in their own settings without evoking their emotions. Through this method, it becomes easier to obtain unbiased information about the subjects, as they are not aware of the fact that they are not being studied. Additionally, the method allows the researchers to capture the true characters or emotions of the research subjects in their own natural environments. Unfortunately, sometimes it is hard to obtain certain information about the subjects such as the type of family they come from, their social status, and their religious aspirations among other factors. Additionally, researchers may not be able to obtain data concerning the subject’s family life that is very important to identify racial or ethnic differences in educational performance. 

On the other hand, written questionnaires may cause researchers to get more information compared to non-participant observation in certain areas while the methodology also fails in certain areas. With respect to its advantages, written questionnaires have the potential of reaching a much wider subject or sample of study than observation may need. However, his depends on the number of questionnaires delivered and the number of observers in the former case. Fortunately, this mode allows researchers to obtain all information necessary concerning their research subjects. This is because questionnaires can be designed in such a way that they offer all information necessary to make conclusive remarks. For example, researchers are able to gauge the participant’s ethnicity, religion, social class, as well as many other factors concerned with social stratification. Additionally, questionnaires are not subject to an observer’s subjective judgment, as is commonly the case in non-participant observation. This means that the information given is not in any way subject to the research participant but rather on the reflection of the research project. 

Unfortunately, this process is also prone to certain drawbacks just as is the case with the former non-participant observation model. In the first place, there is no guarantee that all research subjects will fill all questions. More so, certain participants may decide to hide or cheat in the questionnaires a process that leaves the conclusion of the study in limbo. At other times, participants may also decide to give wrongful information in fear that they may face repercussions in future in case the study results may be leaked especially if such participants are minorities in the societies they live in. 

However, regardless of the shortcomings or strengths associated with each model, it is possible to combine the two models and come up with certain conclusions that are widely accepted in the American educational system. For instance, it has been shown that social classes and material endowments are skewed in such a way that certain communities or cultures are better off than others. 


As is evident in the case above, the two processes or research methodologies that sociologists use to investigate educational differences within different cultures show that several factors are responsible. However, it would arrogant to assume that there are those exceptional cases of performance that is not related to societal or cultural factors. 

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