Research methods essay - Questionnaires and parental attitudes

Using material from item A and elsewhere assess the strengths and limitations of questionnaires for the study of parental attitudes to education (20 Marks).

I can't remember what I got, but it was definetely above a C :)

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Using material from item A and elsewhere assess the strengths and limitations of
questionnaires for the study of parental attitudes to education. (20 Marks)
The attitudes of parents towards the education of their children can have a
strong effect on the educational experience of a student. The attitudes shown
by parents can be recorded by using a number of methods, these include
questionnaires/ surveys.
Questionnaires can be used to uncover the variety of the parents' opinions
regarding their child's education. They can be easily distributed to parents, via
the school and students, on a macro (large) scale; this can be seen as one of the
many strengths of using questionnaires ­ they are easily distributed. However, in
the situation of a school, the questionnaires may not reach the parents as the
students may lose them or simply not give them to their parents. This would be
seen as one of the limitations of questionnaires; fewer people would reply to the
questionnaire making it unrepresentative, and this could lead to the results of the
survey lacking reliability. Due to this reason, interpretivists prefer not to use
questionnaires that provide unreliable results; therefore it is difficult to generalise
the results.
However, if all or most of the questionnaires are completed and sent back to the
researcher, the results would be reliable making them representative; this means
that the findings provide an accurate version of the social world. This is the main
reason as to why positivists favour the use of questionnaires, especially closed
questionnaires where quantitative data is uncovered.
Questionnaires are a good way to study parental attitudes towards education
as they are inexpensive in, both, production of the questionnaires and
classification of the results. In the setting of a school, children come from many
different areas in the local town/ city; due to this reason, the researcher is able to
study a geographically dispersed sample, and this can help to produce reliable
results. Also, as the task of completing a questionnaire is simple, other
researchers/ interviewers do not need to be trained in order to obtain the results.
As the researcher is not present whilst the respondent is completing the
questionnaire, the chance of social desirability bias occurring is reduced, and the
respondent can be confident in expressing their true feelings and opinions,
making the results reliable and easy to replicate by other researchers. Due to this
reason, positivist sociologists are likely to use the method of questionnaires.
Interpretivist sociologists also favour the use of questionnaires, but unlike
positivists, they prefer to use open questionnaires where qualitative data is
However, the use of questionnaires for the study of parental attitudes towards
education can have limitations. One of the main limitations being that
questionnaires lack validity as they results may not give a true picture of what is
being studied; this may be due to a number of reasons. The respondents may not
be able to understand/ interpret the questions, resulting in them answering the
questions in an `incorrect' way, or the answers given may be illegible or incomplete.

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Interpretivist sociologists choose not to use closed questionnaires as the data/
feedback is often limited and lacks depth. Closed questionnaires are also
inflexible as new areas of interest cannot be explored. Validity can be a huge
problem in closed questionnaires as the researcher may `choose' the questions
and answers, preventing the respondent from expressing their views/ opinions;
due to this reason, the results cannot be seen as a true reflection of views.…read more


Aiste - Team GR

useful and gave me great ideas. 
thanks :)

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