The Importance of Understanding Research Methodology

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  • 0:05 Importance of…
  • 1:31 Examples of Methodology
  • 3:10 Methodology Revisited
  • 4:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Roundy

Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.

This lesson will show you why it is necessary to understand the research methods that are used in human growth and development. Learn how interpretation is affected by different research methodologies.

Importance of Understanding Methodology

Let's imagine we are researching the effects of children eating carrots three times a week. To do this we will divide households into two categories: those who eat carrots at least three times a week and those who do not. Our results show that a positive relationship exists between children who need glasses and children who do not eat carrots often. Should we conclude that children who eat carrots at least three times a week will have better eyesight?

Before we answer this question, let's think about research methods. If you are going to understand an area of study, you have to become familiar with the research methods it uses. This is especially important for the study of human growth and development because many different research designs can be used.

Different research methods have different purposes and different levels of validity. This is one measure that helps determine how accurate the results of a research method are. Validity is a term that refers to whether or not a study measures what it's supposed to measure. The results of a study provide stronger evidence if the research has a higher measure of validity.

If you have already formed an opinion about the relationship of carrots and eyesight, let's see if this opinion remains the same after we look at two different research methods used in human growth and development research, and understand what the results mean.

Examples of Methodology

First let's consider a case study. A case study is an in-depth investigation of a single event or person. Let's imagine that case studies were used to obtain the data where a positive relationship was discovered between children who need glasses and children who do not eat carrots often.

Looking at the relationship between carrots and eyesight again, the research could look something like this: in-depth case studies were performed on 100 different children to see if an environmental link could be found to good eyesight. Fifty of the case studies were performed on children who wore glasses and 50 were performed on children who did not wear glasses. The information from all 100 case studies would then be examined to see if there is a possible link to be investigated.

Now let's consider a true experiment. In a true experiment, effort is made to control all influences other than the ones that are being studied. Controlling all other influences allows the researcher to determine a cause and effect relationship between what's being studied. In other words, the researcher will essentially have full control.

Now, let's think about the carrot study again. In a true experiment, a large group of similar children would be selected. They would then be randomly divided into two groups. One group would be fed a cup of carrots at least three times a week. The other group would be given no carrots at all. The children would then be monitored to see if there is any change in their eyesight over time. If these changes are related to one another, then a cause and effect relationship has been discovered.

Methodology Revisited

Let's ask the question we considered at the beginning of the lesson again: should we conclude that children who eat carrots at least three times a week will have better eyesight?

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