Educational Research Journal

The Role of Quantification in Qualitative Research in Education

1993.第8卷(Vol. 8).pp. 19–27

The Role of Quantification in Qualitative Research in Education

Peter Tim-Kui TAM(譚添鉅)


The term "qualitative research" is used by researchers with different understanding and is not representing one single approach, it stands for a variety of methods including ethnography, educational connoisseurship and criticism, naturalistic inquiry, vignette analysis, case study, analysis of ecological specimen records, and so on. In this paper, different types of qualitative research are classified on the basis of epistemologies and approaches. It is argued that some inquiries are truly qualitative, but some are not. Furthermore, it is also argued that, at the level of epistemologies, one should combine interpretivism and positivism in looking at educational problems. At the level of procedures, quantifying qualitative information can make data analysis more efficient and manageable. Modern-day ethnographers should also be well-trained in certain areas in quantitative methods, particularly in research designs and non-parametric statistics. However, it is important to observe that in the process of quantification, the interpretive stance and the subjective elements of the qualitative information are not distorted nor eliminated. Otherwise, the qualitative inquiry will be "engulfed" by the quantitative paradigm.