Steps and Characteristics of Descriptive Research in Education

Steps and characteristics of Descriptive Research 

Calderon, 2012, states,

“Calderon (2012): Descriptive research is a purposive process of gathering, analysing, classifying and tabulating data about prevailing conditions, practices, beliefs, processes, trends and cause effect relationships and the making adequate and accurate interpretation about such data with or without the aid of statistical methods.” 

Descriptive research refers to the method of  describing a population, situation or phenomenon accurately in a systematic manner. It can answer what, where, when and how questions, but not why questions. It uses several varieties of research methods to investigate one or more variables and the researcher only observes and measures them but does not control or manipulate any of the variables. Dr YP Aggarwal, 2008 adds,

“Descriptive research is a survey design devoted to the gathering of information about prevailing conditions or situations for the purpose of description and interpretation.”

Glass & Hopkins, 1984 opine,

“Descriptive research involves gathering data that describe events and then organises, tabulates, depicts, and describes the data collection.”

Characteristics of Descriptive Research

The characteristics of Descriptive research as follows: 

1. Quantitative research method:

It is a quantitative research method that seeks to collect information for the statistical analysis of the population sample in a quantifiable manner. It seeks to collect and describe the demographic segment’s nature and can also be used as a useful and effective marketing research tool. 

2. Data Collection:

Descriptive research is mainly a method of data collection using specific methods like observational method, case study method, and survey method. All primary data collection methods are covered, which provides a lot of information using these three methods. This can be used for future research or even developing a hypothesis of your research object.

3. Cross Sectional Study:

Descriptive research is used to study a particular group or phenomenon and hence, it can be regarded as a cross-sectional study which studies different sections belonging to the same group.

4. Uncontrolled variables:

Descriptive research does not manipulate or influence the variables in any way.  Different observational methods are used in this method to conduct the research. Hence, the researcher has no control over the nature of the variables or their behaviour and the results therefore, are not in the hands of the researcher.

5. Provides basis for further research:

The data collected and analysed from descriptive research with the help of different research techniques are stored and used in the future by other researchers to do further research and for references. The data collected can also be used to point towards the types of research methods used for the subsequent research.

Steps in Descriptive Research

The steps involved in descriptive research are as follows: 

1. Identify and define the problem

2. Review the literature related to the problem 

3. Select the participants and the instruments 

4. State the objectives and hypotheses

5. List the assumptions upon which the hypotheses and procedures are based

6. Choose appropriate subjects and source materials

7. Select or construct tools for collecting data

8. Specify categories of data that are relevant for the purpose of the study, and capable of bringing out significant similarities, differences, or relationships

9. Collect reliable and valid data 

10. Describe, analyse, and interpret their data in clear and precise terms

11. Draw significant and meaningful conclusions

Creswell, 1994 adds,

“Descriptive method is a research method that tries to describe phenomenon, occurrence, event, that happens in the present. The descriptive method of research is to gather information about present existing conditions.”

Best and Kahn, 2006 believe descriptive research to be,

“a research design which aims at describing, recording, analysing and interpreting existing conditions that yield valid and reliable education research results.”

Williams, 2007 opines,

“Descriptive research is research design used to examine the situation involving identification of attributes of a particular phenomenon based on an observational basis.”