chapter  9
The Value of the Qualitative Dimension
Pages 18

Qualitative research is distinguished from quantitative research in that quantitative research is concerned with frequency while qualitative research is concerned with abstract characteristics of events. Qualitative researchers maintain that many natural properties cannot be expressed in quantitative terms-indeed, they will lose their reality if expressed simply in terms of frequency. Knowledge of human beings involves the understanding of qualities which cannot be described through the exclusive use of numbers. As qualitative researchers direct their attention to the meanings given to events by participants, they come to understand more than what a list of descriptions or a table of statistics could support. When positivistic researchers focus inquiry exclusively on a quantitative dimension, research in the social sciences is narrowed to those aspects which lend themselves to numerical expression. Instead of focusing on a student’s disposition toward learning, her creativity, or hard-to-measure dimensions of genius, positivistic educational research will instead direct its energy to achievement-an operationally defined achievement based on standardized tests at that (Popkewitz, 1981a; Willers, 1987; Kincheloe and Well, 2001).