Best Practice

Research projects: Investigating qualities as well as quantities

The world of qualitative research is not one we usually tackle during secondary education, but this misses the chance to teach useful skills and knowledge, says Dr Andrew K Shenton

The world of qualitative research is one that a lot of young people do not explore until their time at university, and perhaps not even then.


The problem

Young people tend to be trained in the rudiments of formal, empirical investigation from an early age. This may involve tossing a coin, rolling a dice or twisting a spinner many times and noting the outcomes, with the frequencies ultimately presented in a table or more visually.

Another early form of data collection and analysis project may be a “traffic census”, with participants recording the numbers of vehicles of different types or cars of different colours that pass their school over a given period.

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