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The Effects of Blended Learning on Middle School English Language Arts/Reading

Students at a North Central Texas Middle School

Kerry S. Whitehead

Texas A&M University-Commerce



Todays students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach

(Prensky, 2001, p. 1). This quote accurately describes the digital native. Digital natives are

students that have grown up with technology. One of the many challenges that teachers face

today is how to reach the digital natives while still covering their subject curriculum and

preparing students for standardized testing. Teachers are trying to cover their material as they

always have while digital natives are craving the use of technology in the classroom (Thompson,

2013, p. 468). The question arises, how can the two worlds coexist? Some believe one way to

achieve this is through the blended learning classroom. The blended-learning classroom

combines face-to-face learning (teaching of old) and different forms of instructional technology

(learning of today) (Longo, 2016, p. 34).

Standardized testing is a fundamental component in the education system today. For

example, in Texas, the Student Success Initiative requires eighth-grade students to pass reading

and math State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests to be promoted to

high school. If there is such an emphasis on standardized testing, does blended learning have a

place in the English Language Arts/Reading (ELAR) classroom?

Statement of the Problem

Past research does not adequately address how blending learning impacts standardized

testing in the middle school ELAR classroom. By exploring blended learning and standardized

testing, teachers can develop strategies and lessons that covers required material and meets the

needs of the digital native while preparing them to be productive, responsible adults.

Review of Related Literature

According to Prensky (2001), a digital native is one that has been surrounded by

technology their entire lives (p. 1). The flip-side to the digital native is the digital immigrant.

The digital immigrant was introduced to the technology at some point in their lives. They have

learned to adapt but also maintain some degree of their past (Prensky, 2001). In todays

education world, the general student population represents the digital natives, and the

teachers/staff represent the digital immigrants. These are two different perspectives that are

trying to come together and coexist. The teachers are consumed with getting students ready for

the state assessments, and so the teachers focus becomes teacher-centered rather than student-

centered (Au, 2007). On the other hand, the students are looking for activities that are

meaningful and more student-centered (Mora, 2011).

Blended Learning

There had been research conducted to support that one way to reach the digital native is

through blended learning (Alijani, Kwun, & Yu, 2014). According to Patchan et al. (2016),

blended learning is considered to be a mixture of face-to-face time with an instructor and 30-

79% of content delivered through online components such as but not limited to discussions,

videos, and knowledge checks. One of the major benefits of blended learning is being able to

meet the different learning styles of students. Students learn at different paces. By teachers

being able to post videos to enhance learning slower students can review the videos multiple

times to make sure they master the content. The more advanced students can move through the

material quicker (Patchan et al., 2016). By having the students view videos outside of class, it

allows for more in-class time for collaboration and discussions (Chen, 2016). Another benefit to

blended learning that affects both the students and the teachers is immediate and targeted

feedback. As students complete knowledge checks, they receive immediate feedback to help

stop misconceptions early. The immediate feedback lets the students know what they missed and

why they missed what they missed. For teachers, it allows them to see what the students are

struggling with and allows the teacher to adjust face-to-face instruction to make it more efficient

and meaningful (Patchan et al., 2015). Collaboration, whether online or traditional, is a major

component of the blended learning environment, collaboration is considered participatory

learning (Chen, 2016). Collaboration allows for students to communicate with each and teach

each other. For all of the benefits, there are some challenges to the blended learning classroom.

For teachers, a big challenge is the time creating blended learning lessons can take. The teachers

have to be willing to commit the time beforehand. Not only the time that is required to create the

lessons but if students are working at home, sometimes the teacher is not always available to the

students to answer questions that may arise (Longo, 2016). For students, a significant challenge

has been connectivity. In the current technological world, not all students have had access

outside of class (Longo, 2016).

Blended Learning in the English Language Arts and Reading (ELAR) Classroom

Research has shown that the United States is experiencing a crisis in reading achievement

(McKenna et al., 2012). Some of the statistics are staggering. According to a study of reading

attitudes, more than twenty-five percent of secondary students in the United States do not have

the skills to succeed (McKenna, Conradi, Lawrence, Jang, & Meyer, 2012). Another staggering

statistic has to do with struggling readers. As of 2007, more than eight million students in the

upper elementary/secondary level are considered struggling readers. One effect of being labeled

a struggling reader is that they are at risk of failing other subjects in school. Another effect of

being labeled a struggling reader is that students are in danger of dropping out of school, thus not

being prepared to be productive members of society (Sternberg, Kaplan, & Borck, 2007). There

have been very few studies regarding technology integration in the middle and high school

grades in regards to attitudes toward reading (McKenna et al., 2012). Most studies have been

about the cognitive areas of reading (McKenna et al., 2012). However, motivation and attitudes

toward reading influence reading achievement. Once students are in middle school, they do not

have much interest in reading. Most of the time the reading in class is teacher driven. Students

do not have a choice in what they read. Most of the reading that is done outside of class by

students today is on the Internet. In 2007, 93% of U.S. school-age children used the Internet on a

regular basis (McKenna et al., 2012). In light of so many children using the Internet, it only

makes sense for teachers to integrate technology into the English Language Arts and Reading

(ELAR) classroom to help motivate students and raise reading achievement. There are many

ways to integrate blended learning into the ELAR classroom. One of the most popular methods

is the use online literature circles (Falter Thomas, 2014). Traditional literature circles are

popular because they are peer groups that discuss the same piece of literature (Falter Thomas,

2014). Students can socialize and construct the meaning of the piece they are reading. By taking

the circle online, it adds a new dimension. Online literature circles help students become more

engaged, especially those who were normally quiet in a traditional literature circle. Online

literature circles gave students the freedom to participate outside of school (Day & Kroon, 2010).

Some students would participate even if they were out sick (Day & Kroon, 2010). There are

other ways that blended learning can be incorporated into the ELAR classroom. In a teacher

action research study, English curriculum was the focus. The blended learning group used an

online language arts program to practice their skills. The study focused on four grammar lessons

(Camahalan & Ruley, 2014). In each of the grammar lessons, the blended learning group

outperformed the traditional group (Camahalan & Ruley, 2014). Teachers can incorporate

activities and project that utilize the Internet to help increase writing skills and reading

achievement (Moran, Ferdig, Pearson, Wardrop, & Blomeyer, 2008). By utilizing different

technologies, students can demonstrate their mastery of various strategies such as but not limited

to navigating nonlinear format of websites, thinking critically about the validity of an online

source, and setting a purpose for reading (McKenna et al., 2012). Students also learn to

communicate effectively with their peers and their teacher (Falter Thomas, 2014).

Blended Learning in the English Language Learner (ELL) Classroom

English language learners (ELL) are fast becoming the largest population in schools

today (Watkins & Lindahl, 2010). In 2006, Texas was second to California for the number of

ELLs served, and Texas served 657,716 ELLs (Lpez, 2010). ELLs have many obstacles to

overcome when entering U.S. schools. ELLs come to U.S. schools with different experiences

(Watkins & Lindahl, 2010). They come to the U.S. with different degrees of English

proficiency; many are not accustomed to U.S. school routines because they may not have

participated much in the way of formal education (Watkins & Lindahl, 2010). In addition, ELLs

are trying to learn content that is not in their native language. There are virtually no

experimental studies showing how technology integration benefits ELLs (Lpez, 2010). Most of

the research conducted has focused on teacher and student perceptions of using technology in the

classroom (Lpez, 2010). There are many ways that teachers can create the blended

environment in the ELL classroom. In a study investigating iPod use for ELLs, Liu, Navarrete,

and Wivagg (2014) found that iPods can be used as resource tools and media creation tools. For

example, as a resource tool, they can be used as translation dictionaries that provide audio

pronunciation and images to help support vocabulary. As media creation tools, students use the

iPod to record their reading to improve fluency. Teachers can create lesson podcasts and upload

them to the iPods (Patten & Craig, 2007). Students have the ability to go back and listen as

many times as is necessary for them to master the content (Patten & Craig, 2007). Blogs are a

way to increase the ELLs writing abilities (Andrei, 2014). It helps instill confidence in the

student (Andrei, 2014). Wikis are a way to increase social interaction between students. Wikis

are websites that allow for collaboration. Wikis allow for students to construct their knowledge

while collaborating with their peers (Wiseman & Belknap, 2013). Wikis have many applications

in the ELL classroom, such as but not limited to, create a glossary of terms for a novel they are

reading in class, answer questions about the novel as a small-group, or complete an author study

for the novel they are reading (Wiseman & Belknap, 2013).

Standardized Testing

Standardized testing has been around for a long time. It started when Horace Mann

pushed for written essay exams in 1845. Standardized testing has continued to evolve over the

years. The first major education act was the National Defense Education Act of 1957, later

revised into the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 1965. Through this law,

education accountability started to take shape. Schools that received Title I funds were required

to be accountable for the achievement of students. After many revisions, ESEA would later

become No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2002. One of the major tenets of NCLB was that any

school receiving federal funds must be held accountable in regards to student achievement

(Huddleston & Rockwell, 2015). As schools have become more accountable for student

achievement, the standardized tests have become high-stakes. High-stakes testing is

standardized testing that has serious consequences tied to test results. These consequences can

directly affect students, teachers, schools, and even entire school districts (Jones & Egley, 2004).

Consequences can range from retention (affecting students) to major curriculum changes

(affecting teachers) to school ratings (affecting schools and districts) to major budget decisions

(affecting all) (Jones & Egley, 2004).

Texas had high-stakes testing long before NCLB became law. In 1984, Texas required

changes in the testing program. It was the first time in Texas that it was necessary that tests be

passed to graduate high school. In 1990, the tests were revised again, becoming more difficult.

It was in 1990 that Texas added assessments in grades 3 through 8 (Hursh, 2005). With the

passing of NCLB, Texas started the Student Success Initiative (SSI). SSI required students in

grades three, five, and eight to pass the reading and math Texas Assessment of Knowledge and

Skills (TAKS) to promote to the next grade (Huddleston & Rockwell, 2015). They had three

opportunities to pass the test. If on the third administration they did not pass they could be

retained in that grade level. How does this affect the teacher? Many believe that it causes the

teachers to begin to teach to the test (Assaf, 2008). In a case study conducted by Lori Czop

Assaf (2008), Marsha, the participant in the case study, had a major conflict between creating

real readers and ensuring her students were prepared for the state assessment. By the end of

the case study, Marsha was spending more time reviewing benchmark tests and preparing her

students for the state assessment (Assaf, 2008). In a qualitative study conducted in 67 Florida

school districts, 79.9% of the teachers surveyed felt that the Florida Comprehensive Assessment

Test (FCAT) was not improving the public schools in Florida (Jones & Egley, 2004). 23.3% of

the respondents felt that the FCAT forced them to teach to the test. Another complaint was that

the FCAT does not allow teachers to meet the needs of their students (Jones & Egley, 2004).

One component of teaching to the test is that instruction becomes teacher-centered with more in

the way of lectures (Au, 2007). Moreover, because of the more teacher-centered instruction

students are bored in school. Students want to participate in activities that are of more relevance

(Mora, 2011). In a study conducted by Richard Mora (2011), students expressed satisfaction

when they were engaged in instructional activities such as hands-on activities. However,

because students are faced with the possibility of retention if they do not pass their state

assessments, teachers feel the pressure to make sure they are prepared, which results in a

narrowing of the assessed curriculum. One of the consequences of students and educators being

pressured for students to perform on state assessments is the students ability to test (Hursh,

2005). Many studies have shown that high-stakes testing does not measure how much students

have learned but how well they have learned to test (Hursh, 2005).

Research Questions

The quantitative study will examine the following:

1. How does the blended learning classroom differ from the traditional classroom

regarding reading test scores for seventh and eighth-grade English language arts

and reading (ELAR) students?

2. How does the blended-learning classroom influence reading test scores for the

middle school English as a second language (ESL) student population?

Hypotheses Statements

The following hypotheses statements will be tested to answer the research questions:

1. Ha: There are significant differences in reading test scores for seventh and

eighth-grade students in the middle school blended learning English language

arts and reading classroom.


H0: There is no difference in the reading test scores for seventh and eighth-grade

students in the middle school blended learning English language arts and reading


2. Ha: There are significant differences in reading test scores for seventh and

eighth-grade English as a second language (ESL) students in the middle school

blended learning ELAR classroom.

H0: There is no difference in reading test scores for seventh and eighth-grade

ESL students in the middle school blended learning ELAR classroom.

Significance of the Study

This study will contribute to the current low number of studies that focus on standardized

testing the blended learning model in the middle school English language arts and reading

(ELAR) classroom (McKenna et al., 2012). In todays ever-advancing technological world, it is

necessary to prepare our students for such a world. Through this study, administrators will see

the benefits of using a blended learning model in the ELAR classroom. Teachers might find that

by incorporating the blended learning model, they can meet the demands of high-stakes testing

while engaging students in meaningful and engaging activities that stimulate higher-order

thinking. Administrators and teachers might understand, through this study, that using a blended

learning model equips students with the necessary twenty-first century skills to be productive

members of a technological society.


This qualitative study used a quasi-experimental design. The study participants were

selected according to selected English language arts and reading (ELAR) teachers. The study

lasted through the course of one school year. The researcher collected student assessment data

through the school districts assessment database.


This research study was conducted using a quasi-experimental design because the

students were already scheduled into their English language arts and reading (ELAR) classes.

This study utilized two seventh-grade and two eighth-grade ELAR teachers. Each teacher had

two class periods in the study for a total of four seventh-grade classes and four eighth-grade

classes. The sample size of the study was 161 students. The classes were chosen because the

demographics for the control group and the treatment group were similar for each teacher. The

researcher first obtained permission to conduct the study by contacting the superintendent of the

school followed up with permission from the school principal. The researcher drafted consent

letters outlining the research study. These letters were distributed to teachers and students for

parents to sign.


The main instrument used in this research study was the seventh-grade and eighth-grade

reading portion of the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR). STAAR is

used to determine how much the students have learned throughout the school year and whether

or not they can apply the skills they have learned. The reading portion of the STAAR measures

how the students have mastered comprehension skills using literary texts such as poetry, drama,

fiction, and literary nonfiction. The reading portion of the STAAR also measures the student's

mastery of informational texts using forms such as expository, persuasive, and procedural texts.

Media literacy skills are embedded in both the literary texts and the informational texts

(STAAR Reading Resources, 2017). The previous years STAAR scores were employed as the

pretest for this study. Those scores were compared to their current STAAR scores at the end of

the research study to answer the research questions. Both sets of STAAR scores were obtained

from the school districts assessment database.


This research study utilized the experimental research design. The experimental design is

used to determine a cause-and-effect relationship between the two variables used in this study

(Creswell, 2015). This research design was appropriate because the researcher was trying to

determine if the blended learning environment had an effect on student state standardized test

scores. State standardized scores were collected at the beginning of the school year. The

students previous years scores were the baseline. The current years scores were compared to

the previous scores to answer the research questions.

The researcher studied two seventh-grade teachers and two eighth-grade, teachers. Each

teacher had a control group and a treatment group. Both groups followed the district curriculum.

The control group received traditional instruction such as but not limited to lecture, paper tests,

hand-written journals, and hand-written papers. The treatment group implemented the blended

learning environment that will employ activities such as but not limited to the use of a learning

management system, collaboration projects, blogging for journals and essays, and the use of peer

reviews of blogs.

All data were entered into a statistical program, Statistical Package for the Social

Sciences (SPSS), used for quantitative research. SPSS allowed the researchers to analyze the

data, answer the research questions, and test hypotheses (Creswell, 2015). A codebook was

created for the data. Table 1 shows a sample codebook.


Table 1

Codebook for Blended Learning Research Project

Variable Value

ID Student ID number
Gender 1 = Male 2 = Female
Grade 7 = 7th grade 8 = 8th grade
ESL 1 = No 2 = Yes
Teacher 1 = Teacher 1 2 =Teacher 2
3 = Teacher 3 4 = Teacher 4
Classroom 1 = Traditional 2 = Blended
STAAR1 Previous year STAAR score
STAAR2 Current year STAAR score

Once the data was inputted into SPSS, the researcher used descriptive and inferential

statistics to answer the research questions and test the hypotheses.

Data Analysis

The main sources of data used for the research project are the Reading State of Texas

Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) for the current year and the previous year. Figure

1 shows the average score for the traditional classroom and the blended learning classroom.

Figure 1

Mean STAAR Scores by Classroom

Classroom Mean Score Number of Students

Traditional 54% 87
Blended 63% 74

The data used was the current year STAAR scores. 161 students were studied for this project.

87 students were in the traditional learning classrooms, and 74 students were in the blended

learning classes. Each teacher in the study had a traditional classroom and a blended classroom.

Figure 2 shows the breakdown by teacher for the traditional and the blended classroom.

Figure 2

Mean STAAR Scores by Teacher by Classroom

Teacher Classroom Mean Score Number of Students

Teacher 1 Traditional 52% 24

Teacher 2 Traditional 50% 24
Teacher 3 Traditional 57% 20
Teacher 4 Traditional 58% 19
Teacher 1 Blended 60% 24
Teacher 2 Blended 62% 22
Teacher 3 Blended 64% 14
Teacher 4 Blended 64% 14

Figure 3 focused on the mean scores of the English as a second language (ESL) students.

Figure 3

Mean STAAR Scores for ESL Population by Classroom

Classroom Mean Score Number of Students

Traditional 45% 26
Blended Learning 58% 20

Of the 161 students in the study, 46 were classified as ESL. Of the 46 ESL students, 26 were in
the traditional classroom, and 20 were in the blended learning classroom. Figure 4 shows the
breakdown for the different classrooms for the ESL population.

Figure 4

Mean STAAR Scores for ESL Population by Teacher by Classroom


Teacher Classroom Mean Score Number of Students

Teacher 1 Traditional 43% 8

Teacher 2 Traditional 42% 9
Teacher 3 Traditional 47% 5
Teacher 4 Traditional 49% 4
Teacher 1 Blended Learning 47% 9
Teacher 2 Blended Learning 60% 5
Teacher 3 Blended Learning 71% 3
Teacher 4 Blended Learning 55% 3

Research Methods Report #1


A researcher has been given a task by the school principal to conduct research. The

researcher has started the research process and has completed the first three steps of the research

process, which includes identifying the problem, reviewing the literature, specifying the purpose

(Creswell, 2015). Now the data needs to be collected. However, which design should the

researcher choose? This report will provide some insight into different forms of quantitative

research designs and mixed methods designs.

Quantitative Research Designs

Quantitative research is statistical research (Creswell, 2015). It is objective and

unbiased research. Quantitative research is explanatory in nature. It tries to explain relationships

through trends and needs (Creswell, 2015). Quantitative research collects data with precise

measurements that test hypotheses statements (Johnson, & Christensen, 2000). This section of

the report will provide a scenario, advantages, and disadvantages of three different quantitative

research designs: correlational, causal-comparative, and experimental. This section will also

discuss survey design, and, how to ensure quality design and increase response rates.

Correlational Design

The correlational design is considered a nonexperimental research design (Johnson, &

Christensen, 2000). In correlational studies, the researcher is searching for a relationship

(explanatory) or trying to predict performance or behavior (prediction) between two or more

variables (Creswell, 2015). Therefore, no variables are manipulated. An example of this would

be a teacher desiring to see if there was a relationship between vocabulary development and

reading comprehension skills of middle school students. The teacher would administer a

vocabulary instrument to the students and would also administer a reading comprehension

instrument. Using different correlation statistics, the teacher would determine the relationship

between the two variables. If the students scored high on the vocabulary instrument and scored

high on the reading comprehension instrument, this would demonstrate a positive correlation. A

positive correlation is when the two variables move in the same direction (Creswell, 2015). An

example of a negative correlation might be to study attendance rates on grades. A negative


correlation is when the two variables move in opposite directions (Creswell, 2015). One

advantage to correlational design is that the researcher can observe multiple variables in the same

study (Mertens, 1999). Another advantage is that correlational studies can be used as a

springboard for experimental studies. They can help in the generation of hypothesis statements

and gives the researcher a narrower direction for their experiment (Walker, 2005). One of the

biggest disadvantages is that correlational research can only determine the relationship between

variables (Creswell, 2015).

Causal-comparative Design

Another nonexperimental research design is the causal-comparative research design

(Johnson, & Christensen, 2000). The causal-comparative research design compares different

groups (independent variables) to a dependent variable (Creswell, 2015). As with the correlation

research design, there is no manipulation of the variables. An example of causal-comparative

research design would be the comparing of middle school students that receive free or reduced

lunch (low socioeconomic status) to those that are not considered low socioeconomic status on

reading achievement scores. The purpose of this study would be to determine if there was an

association between socioeconomic status and reading achievement. One advantage of the

causal-comparative research design is the ability to conduct studies on issues that may have

sensitive or ethical implications of the variables were to be manipulated (Mertens, 1999). A

disadvantage of this research design would be that since there is no manipulation of variable a

cause-and-effect relationship cannot be established (Creswell, 2015). As with correlation design,

only an association can be made (Creswell, 2015).

Experimental Design

The experimental design allows the researcher to determine if one variable has any

influence over another variable (Creswell, 2015). In the experimental design, the researcher has

the control group (no intervention) and a treatment group (intervention group). A researcher

wants to determine which teaching practice is best for increasing spelling scores in English

Language Arts middle school classrooms. The researcher would use random assignment to

create the groups. Both groups would be given the same spelling list each week. The teacher of

the control group would conduct different in-class activities with the students to help reinforce

the spelling words. The treatment group would be given the homework assignment of writing

the spelling words five times each. The teacher of the treatment group would also conduct in-

class activities to help reinforce the spelling words. Both groups would be given a spelling test

at the end of the week. The researcher would organize and analyze the results. An advantage of

using the experimental design is that it is considered the best in studying cause-and-effect

relationships (Creswell, 2015, 323). Another advantage to using experiments is that the

researcher can achieve more reliable results because the variables can be controlled (Walker,

2005). However, one of the disadvantages of using experiments is the ethical issues that can

arise (Creswell, 2015). Correlational and causal-comparative research designs are subject to

ethical issues also, but the experimental design is concerned the withdrawing of treatment or

withholding of treatments (Creswell, 2015). Experimental research designs have federal

guidelines that must be followed (Creswell, 2015).

Survey Design

The survey design method is another form of quantitative studies relationships (Creswell,

2015). Surveys are popular for situations such as but not limited to evaluation of programs,

making or changing policies (Fink, 2009). For a survey study to be effective and accurate, it

must be designed well (Fowler, 2009). Many steps go into designing a good survey. As with

other forms of research, the researcher must formulate the researcher questions or hypotheses

statements (Creswell, 2015). Once the researcher has decided on hypotheses statements, the

population to be studied must be identified. From there, the researcher must determine whether a

random population will be explored or whether a list of names will be obtained (Creswell, 2015).

The researcher will begin survey design and data collection at this point. The researcher will

need to decide if their survey is going to be cross-sectional (data collection at one point) or

longitudinal (data collection over a period). Cross-sectional studies are beneficial because they

can measure attitudes, beliefs, or practices. Longitudinal studies are beneficial because they

study, over time, either the same population or a different population that shares a common

characteristic. The researcher will determine the best way to collect the data. The researcher can

use questionnaires (mailed or web-based) or conduct interviews (in person or telephone)

(Creswell, 2015). The researcher will either develop a survey instrument or locate one. If the

researcher is going to draw up an instrument, procedures should be followed. Researchers need

to make sure to create different types of questions. They should be sure to use clear language

and write questions that all respondents can answer. They should also conduct a pilot test to

make sure that questions have been constructed well (Creswell, 2015). The researchers will

administer the surveys, analyze the results and address the research questions or hypotheses that

the researcher developed. All of this will be dealt with in the report that the researcher writes.

Many things can be done to ensure a higher response rate on surveys. If the researcher is

going to carry out the surveys through the mail or the web, the researcher needs to notify the

participants ahead of time to let them know that they will be receiving a survey soon (Creswell,

2015). The nonrespondents should be followed up on by the researcher. Approximately two


weeks after the original survey has been sent out the researcher can send out a second survey. If

the researcher still has nonrespondents, a postcard can be sent to those nonrespondents two

weeks after the second survey has been sent out (Creswell, 2015). The researcher could give the

participants a choice between a paper survey or a web survey. Sometimes participants prefer one

over the other (Fink, 2009). The survey should not be too long for the participant to finish

promptly (Creswell, 2015). The researcher should study a problem of interest. The researcher

could offer incentives for completing the survey (Creswell, 2015).

Mixed-methods Research Designs

Mixed methods research combines quantitative and qualitative research designs

(Creswell, 2015). Sometimes one form does not sufficiently address the research questions, or

the researcher wants to present different perspectives in the study (Creswell, 2015). Because

mixed methods designs can be time-consuming, the researcher is sometimes asked to be part of a

research team (Creswell, 2015). There are different forms of mixed methods research designs.

The following sections will discuss the three types of designs: convergent, explanatory, and

exploratory sequential.

Convergent Design

The convergent design is where the researcher collects quantitative and qualitative data at

the same time (Creswell, 2015). The researcher gives each form equal importance. The

researcher wants to see if each form of data gives similar results. If the two forms do not give

similar results, then this causes a divergence. The researcher needs to go back to the databases

and explain why there was a discrepancy in the results. One advantage to using the convergent

design is that it utilizes the best aspects of quantitative and qualitative research designs

(Creswell, 2015). One drawback to using the convergent design is that it can be difficult to

merge the two databases and then have to go back and reanalyze the results if there is divergence

(Creswell, 2015).

Explanatory Sequential Design

The primary data collection method for the explanatory sequential design is quantitative.

It uses qualitative design to help explain the quantitative results (Creswell, 2015). The

researcher completes the quantitative research first and then uses the qualitative to explore

specific pieces of the quantitative research (Creswell, 2015). One advantage to using the

explanatory sequential design is that there is no merging of databases. Similar to the convergent

design it takes advantage of the best aspects of both quantitative and qualitative research

(Creswell, 2015). However, one of the major drawbacks to the explanatory sequential design is

on the qualitative side. The researcher has to determine which aspects of the quantitative

research will be followed up on in the qualitative phase (Creswell, 2015). The researcher has to

decide the participants to use and questions to ask. This cannot be accomplished until the

quantitative phase is completed (Creswell, 2015).

Exploratory Sequential Design

The exploratory sequential design also uses the quantitative and qualitative designs as the

explanatory sequential design. However, with the exploratory sequential design, the researcher

completes the qualitative research first (Creswell, 2015). The quantitative research is used to

explain the findings of the qualitative results. The qualitative research is completed on a small

sample, and the quantitative research is completed on a larger population (Creswell, 2015). One

advantage to using the exploratory sequential design is that the researcher is able to explore the

topic first. One disadvantage to using this design is that it is time-consuming on the part of the

researcher (Creswell, 2015).


Research Methods Report #2


A researcher wants to gain a better understanding of how technology has affected

learning in the classroom. The researcher is unsure where to start. Should the researcher choose

to conduct quantitative research or qualitative research? If the research chooses a qualitative

design, which form should they use? This report will show the differences between quantitative

and qualitative research. It also discusses different forms of qualitative research. Finally, this

report will give insight into action research.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research Designs

One of the first things researchers must do is decide what type of research is best to help

them with their problem (Creswell, 2015). Should they use quantitative or qualitative research?

This section of the report will show the similarities and differences between qualitative and

quantitative research. The structure of this section focuses on the six similarities and how they

differ for each similarity.

The first step of the research process is identifying the research problem (Creswell,

2015). In quantitative studies, the research problem section sets up the research questions and

hypotheses to be explored (Fraenkel, & Wallen, 1993). In qualitative research, the research

problem section focuses on the importance of the study and allows the hypotheses emerge

throughout the study (Fraenkel, & Wallen, 1993). The second step of the research process is the

literature review (Creswell, 2015). In quantitative research, the literature review plays a major

role. It helps provide a rationale for the direction of the study. In qualitative research, the

literature review plays a minor role. For qualitative research, it helps document the need for

study (Creswell, 2015). The third step of the research process is specifying the purpose of the

study. For both quantitative and qualitative research, this step is the same. The purpose of both

forms of research is to state the overall objective of the study (Creswell, 2015). The fourth step

of the research process is collecting data. One way that both forms are similar is that they can

both use observations or interviews. However, quantitative research uses open-ended questions,

and qualitative research uses open-ended questions (Creswell, 2015). Quantitative research

focuses on the numerical data collection, and, quantitative research focuses on a narrative

description. When it comes to the sampling in data collection, quantitative research uses random

techniques and qualitative research uses purposeful sampling (Fraenkel, & Wallen, 1993). The

fifth step of the research process is analyzing and interpreting the data (Creswell, 2015). With

quantitative research, the researcher is looking for statistical relationships. In qualitative

research, the researcher is looking for themes or patterns (Fraenkel, & Wallen, 1993).

Quantitative data analysis looks to confirm or deny the hypotheses statements that were

generated at the onset of the study (Johnson, & Christensen, 2000). Hypotheses statements are

not tested in qualitative research; they are developed throughout the study (Fraenkel, & Wallen,

1993). The sixth and final step of the research process is the reporting and evaluating of the

research (Creswell, 2015). Quantitative research reports are statistical reports whereas

qualitative research reports are narrative in nature (Johnson, & Christensen, 2000). If the reports

are published in journals, quantitative reports are generally ten to fifteen pages, and qualitative

reports are twenty to thirty pages in length (Johnson, & Christensen, 2000). In regards to

evaluating the research, conclusions are drawn at the end of the study in quantitative research.

However, in qualitative research, conclusions are drawn throughout the study (Fraenkel, &

Wallen, 1993).

Qualitative Research Designs


Qualitative research is an inquiry form of research. The qualitative research incorporates

the researcher's biases and thoughts (Creswell, 2015). In qualitative research, the researcher is in

direct contact with the components of the study, such as the participants, the situation, and the

phenomenon (Johnson & Christensen, 2000). Data is collected through items such as but not

limited to interviews and photographs (Creswell, 2015). This section of the report will provide a

scenario, advantages, and disadvantages of three different qualitative research designs: narrative,

ethnographic, and case study.

Narrative Design

Researchers that conduct narrative research collect stories and write them in literary

format. Narrative research usually focuses on one subject. The researcher collects stories from

the subject describing individual experiences, and the researcher strives to find the meaning of

those experiences in relation to the research problem (Creswell, 2015). An example of a

narrative research study would be a researcher wanting to understand the struggles and successes

a teacher experiences as they implement blended learning in the classroom. The researcher could

collect journal entries the teacher writes. The researcher can also conduct narrative interviews.

An advantage of using narrative research is that the subject being studied feels that their voice is

heard (Creswell, 2015). Because narrative research is so personal, the researcher and

participants create a close bond it brings the researcher closer to the topic being studied

(Creswell, 2015). One disadvantage of using the narrative research design is the validity of the

data (Flick, 2007). There is the possibility of obtaining fake data. Another disadvantage to

narrative research is at times participants are unable to tell their story. There is a possibility that

although the participant tells their story, their voice gets lost through restorying (Creswell, 2015).

Ethnographic Design

The ethnographic research design focuses on the description of a cultural group. A

cultural group is a group of people that share the same beliefs, values, norms, and etcetera.

(Johnson & Christensen, 2000). Ethnographic research is one form of qualitative research.

Ethnographic research can study narrowly defined cultures such as but not limited to teachers,

students, or English language learners (ELL) or broadly defined groups such as schools or school

innovations. (Creswell, 2015). A researcher is studying a classroom that has implemented a

blended learning environment. The researcher wants to understand how the ELL students

responded to the blended learning environment. One advantage of using the ethnographic

research design is the researcher gains a more comprehensive perspective than with other

research designs (Fraenkel & Wallen, 1993). Researchers gain a deeper understanding of the

behaviors of a culture studied. This design is also well-suited for observing behaviors in the

natural environment. Ethnographic research is an appropriate design to study group behavior

over an extended period (Fraenkel & Wallen, 1993). Ethnographic research does have its

disadvantages. One of those disadvantages is that there is not an ability to make generalizations

because this research design focuses on one situation. Ethnographic research is dependent upon

the researchers observations and does not use statistical data, so it is hard to verify the results of

a study (Fraenkel & Wallen, 1993).

Case Study

The case study research design is a form of ethnographic research (Creswell, 2015). It

differs from an ethnographic study in the fact that instead of studying a group, a case study

studies one individual, classroom, or school, even district (Fraenkel & Wallen, 1993). It is not

looking to find cultural themes because it is focusing on one case (Creswell, 2015). An example

of a case study would be the study of a teacher that integrates technology on a regular basis into

their classroom. The researcher might examine why the teacher chooses to use technology, how

the teacher chooses what technology to use in the classroom, or how the teacher evaluates the

use of technology in the classroom. One advantage of using case study research is that the

researcher can study a phenomenon in-depth (Yin, 2009). The researcher can investigate the

case in its natural environment with no manipulation (Stake, 2010). Case study research has a

disadvantage in common with ethnographic research. Case study research is difficult to

generalize to a wider population because it focuses on one situation (Yin, 2009). Another

disadvantage can be a particular case study is asked to serve too many purposes (Stake, 2010).

Action Research

Action research is a research design is traditionally utilized in the field of education

(Airasian & Gay, 2003). Action research is similar to mixed-methods research design in that it

can use quantitative or qualitative methods for data collection (Creswell, 2015). There are

differences between action research and formal or traditional research. Action research is

conducted by teachers, principals or other educational personnel. They perform the research

with their students. Formal research, on the other hand, is conducted by university professors,

graduate students or scholars on specific groups of people that fit their particular research topic

(Airasian & Gay, 2003). Action research is focused on teacher practice. It has an insider

perspective because the teacher-researcher is looking at their practices. Formal research has an

outsider perspective (Airasian & Gay, 2003). Formal researchers are advancing knowledge in a

field of study. They have no relationship with the study participants (Creswell, 2015). The steps

that taken for action research are different from that of formal research. Action research uses a

spiraling technique. The researcher implements the plan and observes and reflects. If the

researcher has not achieved desired results, the researcher changes the plan, implements the new

plan, observes and reflects on the new plan. The researcher continues this until desired results

are achieved (Denzin, 2009). Whereas the formal researcher uses the following scientific

method steps: (1) identify the research problem, (2) review the literature, (3) specify the purpose,

(4) collect data, (5) analyze and interpret the data, and (6) report and evaluate the research

(Creswell, 2015).

There are numerous reasons a researcher would choose action research. With action research,

teacher-researchers have the ability to implement a plan and rework plans as often as they

needed. Teachers benefit directly from action research because they gain a deeper understanding

of teaching practices because they are the ones conducting the research (Airasian & Gay, 2003).

Schools can improve through action research. As teachers strive to improve their teaching

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