25 May 2022


Research Design, Data Collection, and Data Analysis

Format: APA

Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 1765

Pages: 6

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The study adopts the qualitative design. The study further utilizes a case study to study the effect of the burden of student debt on graduates in Indiana. According to Creswell (2012), a qualitative study is more appropriate when the problem under study is not well defined, which suits the scope of this study. For instance, while it is known that student debt has been on the rise over the years, not many studies have been conducted to establish the effect of student debt on students. In addition, a qualitative study is useful when researchers want to explore complex relationships among different elements relating to the study problem (Maxwell, 2012). 

A qualitative study is also an excellent design for explaining the complex relationships between the variables of the study. Therefore, the use of a qualitative study methodology in researching allows the researcher to gain as much insight as possible concerning the current problem of study and the factors that contribute to the findings. The choice of using case studies also means that the present study will effectively evaluate and simplify complex issues that arise when dealing with relatively large samples of respondents that can be used when compared to other methods (Maxwell, 2012). The flexibility associated with using case studies also makes it more desirable and advantageous than other methods such as mixed methods or focus groups. 

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The Purpose Statement

The return on investment in collegiate education in the US is of specific concern if the real value of such an education is to be determined. For this reason, the purpose of this qualitative study is to investigate the perceived return on investment in college education in the state of Indiana. 

Central Question of Study

Does the current perceived rate of return on investment in college education in the state of Indiana justify the expenditure? 

Sub questions

The main question of the study indicated above could be too general to focus the objective of the paper. For this reason, four research sub-questions are developed as highlighted below to direct the purpose of the study. 

How does the perceived rate of return on investment in college education in the state of Indiana compare to the rest of country? 

What is the perceived relationship between the rate of return on investment and student burden of debt in the state of Indiana? 

What perceived impact does the burden of student debt have on college graduates in the state of Indiana? 

What perceived methods to the students use to settle their educational debts after completing college?

What perceived strategies do the educational experts in the state of Indiana use to help the students offset the debts?  

Data Collection

The study collects both primary and secondary qualitative data from different sources. The primary qualitative data is collected using case studies from college graduates in the state of Indiana. Ten respondents will be involved in the case study since the findings should produce logical themes for analysis. Actual data collection used for the case study will include collected using observations and surveys and recording of the observed behaviors among the students. Studies on the usefulness of case studies motivate their desirability for the current study. For instance, Kitzinger (1995) argues that case studies are a useful method of gaining detailed information relating to group and personal feelings, their opinions, and perceptions, which is desirable for the current study. Using case studies also save time since when compared to individual interviews because it is easy to collect data from a larger number of respondents at a go (Litosseliti, 2003). Like the personal interviews, researchers have an opportunity of seeking clarification while using case studies to collect primary qualitative data. The researcher will engage in an open talk where the respondents will discuss and narrate their perceptions towards students 

The secondary qualitative data is collected from organizational websites such as PayScale, universities in the state of Indiana, the Bureau of Labor Statistics among others. According to Johnston (2014), secondary data has the advantage of ease of collection and analysis because most of it has been archived and the researcher only retrieves it and synthesizes it according to their usage. The secondary qualitative data collected from these sources is used to complement the primary data. For instance, the secondary data is used in the development of hypotheses for the study while the primary data is used to confirm the hypotheses. Using the two sets of qualitative data, the findings of the present study are appealing enough to practitioners in the affected fields of professionalism to adopt the recommendations as indicated under the last subsidiary question of the study. 

The respondents used in the collection of primary qualitative data are recruited on the basis of a purposive sampling strategy. As Sharma (2005) posits, purposive sampling strategy is advantageous in eliminating research biases originating from the researcher themselves since they give each potential respondent an equal chance of being involved in the study. The purposive sampling strategy is also picked for this study because of the simplicity associated with its usage. For instance, the researcher does not have to involve in complicated mathematical calculations that is often associated with other methods of sampling such as stratified sampling technique (Sharma, 2005). The method also provides a wider range of non-probability sampling techniques to use. 

Therefore, the purposive sampling strategy will give the researcher a chance to conduct one on one interview with the participants of the of the case study. On the other hand, the technique will also make it possible for the researcher to make a detailed description of the case at hand which is the effects of debts of students' loans on the interviewed students (Creswell, 2007). Moreover, purposive sampling will also make it possible for the researcher to effectively answer the research questions by providing effective and accurate primary data that details the effects of students’ debts on their lives. 

To gain access to study participants, I will use the 50 graduates from my university who have graduated and are now paying their college debts. I will also approach other five universities and talk to the loans board on how education in Indiana compares with those in other universities around the state. The participants will be selected on the basis that they have graduated and are working. I will ask them for their permission to take part in the study. Once the consent is obtained, I will interview the participant based on their salaries and the amounts of money they pay towards their college loans. They will then narrate the type of financial difficulties they encounter as a result of paying their college.

Some of the questions I will ask the focus group that I intend to interview include the range of their salaries on a monthly basis. They will also be asked the amounts they pay per month towards the settlements of their college debts. They will also have to state the burden that the settlement of their education loans has on them and their families. That is, does the fact that they pay their college debts to deny them the chance to do other things in their lives? The experts from the universities in Indiana will also be asked the methods they use to help the student pay their school loans. For example, do they have a subsidy for the students who have taken the initiative to pay their education loans? Is there any other method they use to help the students so that they do not feel financially overburdened with the payments of the loans?

These questions will form the basis of the primary data which will be collected by voice recorder. The researcher will record the answers, and the questions posed to the participants on a voice recorder and analyze them later by stating the different methods used by the students to settle their debts (Creswell, 2007). The data will also be sorted using the methods used by the educational experts to help the student offset their financial loans and hence ease the financial burdens in their lives. Through transcription, the researcher will be able to write down the collected data. The interview will follow the interview protocol in which the graduates will be asked their salaries, amount they part with per month to pay education debts, the financial burdens they encounter because of the need to pay their debts (Creswell, 2007). They will then relate their thoughts on the quality and nature of education in Indiana compared to other states. The second lot will be the educational experts who will recount their thought on the education Indiana and then state the methods they use to help student offset their college fees. 

The above questions asked to the students and the educational experts in Indiana will make it possible for me to answer the central question by providing the methods used to settle educational debts, procedures used by educational experts to help the students, and how the education Indiana compare with others around the state. Since most of the participants will be people working, the study will take place in their areas of work to eliminate the need for them to miss work and the ability to take place effectively in the study.

Data Analysis

The study will not employ complex methods and tools of data analysis such as those associated with quantitative data because the data collected is not complex. For this reason, the present study employs content analysis in analyzing both the primary and secondary data. Johnstone (2014) defines content analysis as a method of data analysis, which entails creating valid and replicable inferences through the interpretation and coding of textual material. Through a systematic evaluation of texts such as the oral communications obtained from the focus groups and the graphics from the secondary sources of data, qualitative data could be transformed into quantitative data (Johnstone, 2014). For this reason, some of the data presented in this study are numeric because of the application of the content analysis methodology. Where such numeric data has been presented, the analysis was done using Microsoft tools, specifically, Microsoft Excel. Content analysis is also considered useful in the analysis of qualitative data that has been collected from primary sources using focus groups. In this way, the method enabled the synthesis of the ideas and opinions of respondents into logical themes, which are then used to answer the central and sub-research questions developed before the primary collection data. 

The use of content analysis, therefore, makes it possible to transform the raw primary data and the secondary data into tables and graphs for an easy interpretation to the readers of the research report. The process of data analysis used in this study has two levels. First, there is the manifest, or basic level, which is a descriptive detail of the collected data. In other terms, this step involves documenting what the respondents said during the collection of data without commenting or giving theories explaining how or why they did so. The second level is the latent or higher level analysis, which is a more interpretive analysis that deals with the response and what might be implied or inferred. Therefore, using this approach to the analysis of data, it is possible to describe the impact of student debt on the value of college education in the state of Indiana and to draw the recommendations.


Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design:choosing among five approaches . London: Thousand Oaks

Creswell, J. W. (2012).  Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research  (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Kitzinger, J. (1995). Qualitative Research: Introducing focus groups. BMJ .

Litosseliti, L. (2003). Using Focus Groups in Research. New York: A&C Black.

Maxwell, J. (2013). Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach: An Interactive Approach. New York: SAGE.

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 14). Research Design, Data Collection, and Data Analysis.


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