Qualitative and Quantitative Research Approach Models in Health Research

 Model Approach Quantitative and Qualitative 

Quantitative Approach

Research with quantitative studies can find out how pragmatic competencies change over time through systematic and cyclical data collection.  The researcher administers a comparable task to obtain the performance of a group of students at specified time intervals and measures their performance with a numerical index (eg, score, rank, and number of frequencies).  Then, they compare group-level performance across time points, often using inferential statistics such as repeated-measurement ANOVA or mixed-model analysis.

Quantitative research looks for a causal relationship between time and change.  Systematic data collection, fixed time intervals, statistical analysis, and effect sizes allow researchers to determine whether learners make significant gains over time and how large the gain measures are on a given time scale.  

By incorporating contextual and individual variables into the design, researchers can also investigate factors that contribute to profitability, which in turn generate explanations for pragmatic development.

Several quantitative studies have attempted a combined analysis of time, context, and characteristics.  Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) revealed significant pragmatic gains over three times.  Students' choices of appropriate advice expressions gradually approach the choice of native speakers.  Self-reported English proficiency and total exposure, both assessed at the same time interval, contributed to the improvement albeit in different ways.

Exposure has a direct impact on pragmatic advantage, whereas proficiency does not.  However, proficiency mediates the relationship between exposure and pragmatic gain, which means that as learners' proficiency increases, they have more exposure to English, which essentially leads to pragmatic development.

Qualitative Approach

The benefit of using a qualitative approach is the attitude of an open and exploratory approach in which the researcher can commit to gaining an understanding of the reasons behind phenomena, rather than proving or disproving hypotheses.  

Unlike predictive approaches that use linear analysis of pre-selected variables, qualitative research can deal with more elements that appear in the data and use them as a whole as evidence to interpret the observed changes.

Data derived from interviews, observations, and field notes are rich, resulting in abundant information about the behavior, views, and thoughts of students.  More importantly, the data are placed in a naturalistic context, adding to their ecological validity.  

By analyzing the elements involved in the context holistically, researchers can reveal the interrelationships between contextual abilities and student characteristics, shaping development dynamically.

The general design in qualitative research includes case studies, ethnography, participatory action research, and Grounded Theory.  In pragmatics, there are many case studies and ethnography conducted in a longitudinal design (eg, Brown, 2013).  

Indeed, the lack of systematic data collection is evident in the existing longitudinal studies in qualitative designs.  Because data is naturalistic and context-dependent, many studies collect and analyze data as it emerges.  

Although recent studies have included the systematic collection of comparative data to describe development (Gonzales, 2013), the practice is still under-represented or has not been accompanied by additional data that could explain development.

Some studies do not even address change (Siegal, 1996).  This is because these ethnographic studies have different objectives.  As Ortega and Iberri-Sea (2005, p. 41) note, “the aim of this study has been, rather than documenting and understanding change over time, to capture continuity and to reach a deep understanding of the roles, interrelationships, and intentionality in ecology.  second language learning that is seen as stable over time”.

To improve the practice of longitudinal research in L2 pragmatics, we need research designs that combine waves of systematic data collection with an explicit focus on capturing change.  At the same time, we need studies that use large amounts of data that can explain contextual and individual influences on change.  In the next section, I will present mixed methods research as a methodological option for such an investigation


Taguchi, N. (2018).  Description and explanation of pragmatic development: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research.  Systems, 75, 23-32.

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