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Using Quantitative Data to Answer Critical Questions: New Directions for Institutional Research, Number 133

Using Quantitative Data to Answer Critical Questions: New Directions for Institutional Research, Number 133

Frances K. Stage (Editor)

ISBN: 978-0-787-99778-6

May 2007, Jossey-Bass

120 pages

Select type: Paperback

In Stock



This volume challenges quantitative researchers to become more critical. By providing examples from the work of several prominent researchers, and by offering concrete recommendations, the editor and authors deliver messages that are likely to cause many educational researchers to reexamine their own work.

Traditional quantitative research tends to be probabilistic, and often mass the experiences of many subgroups in the population. Most models, framesworks, and findings that appy to the majority of students and faculty may not adequately apply to important subpopulations as defined by their entry status, financial condition, residential origin, sex, ethnicity, and religious orientation.

The collective efforts described here will help readers become more sensitive to the nuances among various educational groups, and to pay more attention to outliers. This volume supplies both motivation and analytical support to those who might incorporate criticality into their own quantitative work, as well as to those who wish read critical perspectives with an open mind about what they might find.

This is the 133rd volume of the Jossey-Bass quarterly report series New Directions for Institutional Research.

Editor’s Notes 1
Frances K. Stage

1. Answering Critical Questions Using Quantitative Data 5
Frances K. Stage

The author provides arguments to justify conducting critical research using quantitative methods and uses examples from her own work and the work of several prominent scholars to describe the evolution of quantitative critical inquiry. Finally, she compares this approach to traditional methods of addressing quantitative and qualitative research problems.

2. Thinking Critically About the “Critical”: Quantitative Research as Social Critique 17
Benjamin Baez

In this chapter, the author asks how educational research is or can be critically transformative. He explores the extent to which educational research can offer critiques of our world that allow us to transform it.

3. Bridging Key Research Dilemmas: Quantitative Research Using a Critical Eye 25
Deborah Faye Carter, Sylvia Hurtado

These authors explore several key research dilemmas and potential solutions for quantitative researchers. They argue that quantitative research is not wholly objective and that autobiography can intersect with research, describe how critical quantitative approaches identify discrepancies between theory and fact, and apply comparison group versus context-specific approaches to understanding group differences.

4. Race, Ethnicity, and Higher Education Policy: The Use of Critical Quantitative Research 37
Robert T. Teranishi

The author uses examples from his own research on Asian American students to demonstrate that critical frameworks in quantitative research can yield important and interesting perspectives that can be applied to the study of other racial groups, thus improving what we know about them.

5. The Sources of Racial-Ethnic Group Differences in College Enrollment: A Critical Examination 51
Laura W. Perna

The continued underrepresentation of blacks and Hispanics in American higher education is a critical area for research, policy, and practice. This chapter describes a conceptual model for conducting research on the important policy questions related to this challenge.

6. Finding Social Justice in Education Policy: Rethinking Theory and Approaches in Policy Research 67
Edward P. St. John

Describing the social justice framework that has evolved from his work, the author examines the influence of educational policy on access to higher education. He contrasts his approach with the scientific approach most commonly advocated in educational research.

7. Women’s Paths in Science: A Critical Feminist Analysis 81
Jillian Kinzie

The author introduces her critical and feminist approach, and discusses how this influenced the development of her research questions, methodology, data analysis, interpretation, and presentation of findings.

8. Moving from Probabilities to Possibilities: Tasks for Quantitative Criticalists 95
Frances K. Stage

Our traditional probabilistic research often masks the experiences of many subgroups in the population. The volume editor describes how adding critical perspectives to our own quantitative work, and paying
more attention to smaller, well-defined subsamples as well as outliers, improves our predictive and explanatory models.