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Human Resource Development

Research guide for Human Resource Development

Statistics & Research Methods

No matter your area of study, you will need to know about statistics -- what they are, what they do, and what they mean.

For many people, learning statistics can be difficult. One reason is because there are so many different types of statistics used for so many different things!

Plus, understanding higher-level statistics (e.g., multivariate analysis, structural equation modeling, etc.) requires mastery of basic, lower-level statistics and methodological concepts (e.g., scales of measurement, measures of central tendency, tests of correlation, etc.)

A popular statistical program is called SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). The latest, most up-to-date version of SPSS is version 21. Muntz Library has version 20, which is very similar, though nuances for certain features and functions may exist.

If you are on campus, SPSS can be found on all library reference computers on the 2nd floor of the library. Also, SPSS is available on the computers in the Technology Support Center in RBN 3022.

If you have technical problems with SPSS, contact UT Tyler Technology Support Center for support.

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research

Generally, there are two types of research:

  • Quantitative research involves the analysis of numerical data using computational and mathematical techniques
  • Qualitative research involves the analysis of words, images, and objects using descriptive techniques


Suppose we want to know more about Twinkies, Ho-Hos, and Ding-Dongs. (Hostess went bankrupt so these were unavailable for a while, but they're making a comeback?)

Click through the tabs to learn more...

Quantitative research would be interested in answering questions such as:

  • Do these snack cakes sell more during certain times of the year than other times?
  • How much money do consumers spend on these snack cakes per month? Per year?
  • What is the average price of these snack cakes and how do the prices differ across the U.S. and the world?
  • How much profit do these snack cakes make?
  • How much does it cost to buy the individual ingredients used to make a single Twinkie? A Ho-Ho? A Ding-Dong? How much does it cost to package them?
  • Is there a statistical relationship between buying these snack cakes with buying other kinds of snack cakes and/or other products (such as milk)?
  • What is the target demographic of these snack cake consumers?

Qualitative research would be interested in answering questions such as:

  • Why do people like Twinkies, Ho-Hos, and Ding-Dongs?
  • What makes these snack cakes "better" or "worse" than similar snack cakes of other brands?
  • What are some of the motivations as to why people eat snack cakes?
  • What do people like/dislike about the logo(s) on the snack cake packaging? What about the packaging itself?
  • How important are such factors as calories, sugar, trans fat, etc. when deciding to buy a snack cake?

In the example questions, a general pattern should emerge:

  • The quantitative questions seek to provide answers of quantity and objective measurement
  • The qualitative questions seek to provide answers of quality and subjective measurement

Understand that neither of these approaches to research is "right" or "wrong;" it all depends the research questions you want to answer and how you want to answer them. Many research questions could be answered in different ways using either approach.

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