Quantitative research in education : Journals

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Quantitative Research in Research on the Education and Learning of Adults

  • First Online: 23 May 2019

Cite this chapter

example of quantitative research paper about education

  • Ellen Boeren 13  

Part of the book series: Lifelong Learning Book Series ((LLLB,volume 24))

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This chapter starts from the observation that there is a limited presence of quantitative research published in leading adult education journals such as Adult Education Quarterly , Studies in Continuing Education and International Journal of Lifelong Learning . This observation was also discussed by Fejes and Nylander (2015, see also Chap. 7 ). As an adult education scholar mainly working with large quantitative datasets, I aim to provide more insight on what quantitative methods have to offer to the field. I will do this through a brief discussion of the role of methodologies and methods in empirical research, but also by engaging with examples of quantitative research available in the scholarly literature, including a range of existing quantitative scales, and how these can be taken forward in new research as tools to generate the construction of new knowledge. I will first explore potential reasons why the presence of quantitative research in the leading generic adult education journals is so limited.

This chapter is a revised version of a previousely published article: Boeren, E. (2018) The Methodological Underdog: A Review of Quantitative Research in the Key Adult Education Journals. Adult Education Quarterly , 68(1), 63–79.

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Boeren, E. (2019). Quantitative Research in Research on the Education and Learning of Adults. In: Fejes, A., Nylander, E. (eds) Mapping out the Research Field of Adult Education and Learning. Lifelong Learning Book Series, vol 24. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-10946-2_8

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7 Quantitative Data Examples in Education

Quantitative data plays a crucial role in education, providing valuable insights into various aspects of the learning process. By analyzing numerical information, educators can make informed decisions and implement effective strategies to improve educational outcomes. But what exactly is quantitative data in education , and why is it essential? In this article, we’ll delve into seven illustrative quantitative data examples in education and analyze their impact.

  • Standardized Test Scores: Measuring Performance at Scale
  • Attendance Rates: More than Just Numbers
  • Graduation Rates: Tracking Long-Term Success
  • Class Average Scores: Gauging Collective Performance
  • Student-to-Teacher Ratios: A Reflection of Learning Environments
  • Homework Completion Rates: Analyzing Daily Academic Engagement
  • Frequency of Library Book Checkouts: Monitoring Reading Habits

The Importance of Quantitative Data Examples in Education

Before delving into specific examples, it’s important to understand the importance of quantitative data in education.

Quantitative data plays a crucial role in education by providing objective evidence of student achievement and progress. Mining educational data allows educators to identify trends and patterns, enabling them to tailor teaching methods and interventions to meet the individual needs of students. For example, if a particular group of students consistently underperforms in standardized tests, quantitative data can help educators identify the specific areas where additional support is needed. This data-driven approach ensures that resources are allocated effectively, and students receive the targeted support they require to succeed.

Read next: How data analytics is reshaping the education industry

In addition to informing classroom instruction, quantitative data also plays a significant role in shaping education policies. Policymakers rely on this data to make informed decisions about curriculum development, resource allocation, and educational reforms. By analyzing quantitative data on a larger scale, policymakers can identify systemic issues and implement evidence-based strategies to address them. For instance, if quantitative data reveals a high dropout rate in a specific region, policymakers can develop targeted interventions to improve graduation rates and ensure that students have access to quality education.

1.  Standardized Test Scores: Measuring Performance at Scale

Standardized test scores, spanning from globally recognized exams like the SAT and ACT to national or regional board examinations, have become a cornerstone in the world of education. These scores serve multiple purposes, providing a consistent, objective measure of a student’s grasp of specific subjects and skills. This universal consistency allows for comparisons across regions, states, or even countries, simplifying the monumental task for college and university admissions offices when they sift through thousands of applications from varied educational backgrounds. For these institutions, these scores are invaluable in determining a student’s readiness for the rigors of higher education.

However, the significance of these scores isn’t restricted to tertiary institutions. K-12 schools and districts also harness these numbers to assess the efficacy of their teaching methodologies, curricula, and allocated resources. Consistently low scores might hint at areas where instructional techniques need refinement or indicate students who require additional support. But, as pivotal as they are, it’s essential to approach standardized test scores with a balanced perspective. They capture just one dimension of a student’s academic journey, and their true value is unlocked when integrated with other forms of quantitative and qualitative data.

2.  Attendance Rates: More than Just Numbers

Attendance rates in schools often serve as more than just basic metrics of student presence. At its core, this data provides a nuanced understanding of how engaged, motivated, and committed students are to their educational pursuits. By calculating the percentage of days students are present over a set period, institutions can glean insights into a myriad of underlying factors. A consistently high attendance rate, for instance, could indicate a thriving school environment where students feel inspired and eager to participate. Conversely, a sudden drop might hint at external challenges, from health outbreaks to socio-economic disturbances.

However, diving deeper, these rates also unveil more subtle issues affecting education. Consistent absences can indicate personal struggles, whether they be familial, psychological, or health-related. For educators and administrators, understanding the intricacies behind these numbers is essential. Addressing the root causes, whether they involve bolstering student engagement through innovative teaching methods or providing additional resources for those facing challenges, ensures a more inclusive and responsive educational environment.

3.  Graduation Rates: Tracking Long-Term Success

Graduation rates stand as a pivotal metric in assessing the long-term success and effectiveness of educational institutions. This rate, which depicts the percentage of students who complete their academic programs within a standard timeframe, is more than just a reflection of student diligence. It also provides insights into the quality of instruction, the adequacy of resources, and the overall support infrastructure in place. High graduation rates often suggest that an institution is not only providing valuable academic content but also fostering an environment conducive to sustained student success.

On the flip side, lower graduation rates can act as an early warning sign for potential challenges within the educational framework. Whether it’s a curriculum that doesn’t resonate with the student body, inadequate support for those with learning differences, or external factors like socio-economic challenges that affect a student’s ability to prioritize education, these numbers prompt introspection. For educators and institutional leaders, these rates serve as a guidepost, highlighting areas of success and illuminating opportunities for enhancement in the ever-evolving landscape of academia.

4.  Class Average Scores: Gauging Collective Performance

Class average scores play a fundamental role in deciphering the collective performance of a student group, offering a holistic view of how a class or cohort is faring academically. By taking the mean of scores across a specific subject or class, educators can identify patterns, strengths, and areas that may require more attention. High averages might suggest that teaching methods, curricula, and learning materials are resonating with students, leading to broad comprehension and mastery of the content.

Conversely, consistently lower average scores can serve as a catalyst for introspection and change. They may indicate potential misalignments between the curriculum and students’ learning styles, a need for more interactive or varied teaching methods, or even external factors impacting students’ ability to grasp content. By closely monitoring and analyzing these averages, educational institutions can adapt dynamically, ensuring that teaching strategies evolve to meet the unique needs of every student cohort.

5.  Student-to-Teacher Ratios: A Reflection of Learning Environments

The student-to-teacher ratio in educational settings offers a clear, quantifiable snapshot of the learning environment’s structure. A direct representation of how many students are assigned to each educator, this metric provides insights into the potential for individualized attention within a class. In instances where the ratio is low, it often implies that teachers have fewer students to manage, allowing for more one-on-one interactions, personalized feedback, and a closer understanding of each student’s needs and challenges.

However, a higher ratio can signify challenges in resource allocation or an influx of students beyond the institution’s standard capacity. In such scenarios, teachers might find it challenging to address individual student concerns, potentially leading to overlooked learning gaps or unmet needs. Recognizing the implications of these ratios allows educational institutions to strategize effectively, whether it’s hiring additional staff, incorporating teaching assistants, or leveraging technology to ensure every student receives the attention and support they deserve.

6.  Homework Completion Rates: Analyzing Daily Academic Engagement

Homework, a staple in the K-12 educational journey, can provide more insights than just individual student performance. By tracking homework completion rates, schools gain a clearer perspective on daily academic engagement outside the classroom. Consistently high completion rates typically indicate a student body that’s committed, understands the material, and can effectively manage their time. It can also suggest that the homework given is appropriately challenging and relevant, resonating with students and thus motivating them to complete it.

Conversely, lower homework completion rates might raise flags about potential challenges students face. These can range from the homework being perceived as too difficult or irrelevant, to external factors such as familial obligations or extracurricular activities taking up significant time. Schools can use this quantitative data to reassess the nature and volume of homework assigned or to initiate conversations with students about their challenges, ensuring that homework remains a productive, beneficial aspect of the learning process.

7.  Frequency of Library Book Checkouts: Monitoring Reading Habits

In K-12 schools, libraries often serve as hubs of exploration, learning, and growth. Tracking the frequency of library book checkouts can provide a quantitative measure of students’ reading habits and interests. A high frequency indicates an enthusiastic student body actively engaging with literature, research, or both. It can also reflect the effectiveness of library programs, reading challenges, or events aimed at promoting literary exploration.

On the other hand, a decline or consistently low checkout rate might signal a waning interest in reading or challenges in accessing library resources. This could prompt schools to examine the relevance and variety of available books, consider introducing digital reading platforms, or revamp the library’s ambiance to make it more inviting. Ultimately, this quantitative data aids schools in ensuring their libraries remain vibrant centers of literary exploration and learning for all students.

Quantitative data examples in education offer valuable insights into various aspects of the learning process. By analyzing different types of data in education , policymakers can make informed decisions and develop strategies to enhance educational outcomes. Harnessing the power of quantitative data allows educators to foster an environment where every student has the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential.

As you delve into the diverse landscape of quantitative data in education, it’s paramount to harness tools that streamline analysis and interpretation. The Inno™ Starter Kits have been meticulously crafted to assist educators in navigating the intricate world of data. Whether you’re just beginning your data-driven journey or are an established expert, these kits offer a comprehensive solution to visualizing, understanding, and applying quantitative insights. Explore today and unlock unparalleled potential in educational outcomes!

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