Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership



Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership




Descriptive research is used to obtain information concerning the current status of the phenomena to describe "what exists" with respect to variables or conditions in a situation. The methods involved range from the survey which describes the status quo, the correlation study which investigates the relationship between variables, to developmental studies which seek to determine changes over time.

  • Statement of the problem
  • Identification of information needed to solve the problem
  • Selection or development of instruments for gathering the information
  • Identification of target population and determination of sampling procedure
  • Design of procedure for information collection
  • Collection of information
  • Analysis of information
  • Generalizations and/or predictions


Survey Studies

Survey studies assess the characteristics of whole populations of people or situations.

  • School Surveys - Used to gather data concerned with internal or external characteristics of a school system

  • Job Analysis - Used to gather information to be used in structuring a training program for a particular job

  • Documentary Analysis - Closely akin to historical research; deals with documenting present situations

  • Public Opinion Surveys - Used to enhance the decision making process by government officials

  • Community Surveys - Used to gather data concerned with internal or external characteristics of a community


Interrelationship Studies

Interrelationship Studies trace relationships among the facts obtained to gain a deeper insight into the situation

  • Case Studies - Probes in depth into an individual situation or personality with the intent of diagnosing a particular condition and recommending corrective measures

  • Causal Comparative Studies - Compares the likeness and difference among phenomena to determine if certain factors or circumstances tend to accompany certain events, conditions, or processes

  • Correlation Studies - Determine the extent of the relationship between two or more variables


Developmental Studies

Developmental studies are concerned with the existing status and interrelationships of phenomena and changes that take place as a function of time

  • Growth Studies - May be either longitudinal or cross-sectional. The longitudinal technique is the most satisfactory for studying human development. The cross-sectional technique is more commonly used because it is less expensive.

  • Trend Studies - Used to make predictions from social trends, economic conditions, technological advances, etc. to future status

  • Model or System Development - Creative development of a model or system (paradigm) based on a thorough determination of the present situation or system and the goals sought



  • Critical Examination of Source Materials - Descriptive studies cannot produce useful findings if the investigation is based on erroneous information

  • Technical Terminology - An absence of clearly assigned meanings for terms results in ambiguous communications which cannot provide a solid foundation for scientific understanding

  • Formulation of Hypotheses - Ambiguously formulated overgeneralized or logically unsound hypotheses lead to erroneous conclusions

  • Observation and Experimentation - Experimentation involves the manipulation of independent variables under controlled laboratory conditions and direct observation of the results. Observing the phenomena as they exist may be the only way to examine and analyze the factors that are associated with their occurrences in a natural situation

  • Generalization and Prediction - Universal generalizations that permit highly accurate predictions may be ideal, but even the physical scientists are less certain today than they once were of their ability to predict in certain areas except in terms of scientific probability.


1. Define descriptive research.

2. List eight steps involved in a descriptive investigation.

3. State the purpose of survey studies.

4. Name five types of survey studies.

5. State the purpose of interrelationship studies.

6. Name three types of interrelationship studies.

7. State the purpose of developmental studies.

8. Name three types of developmental studies.

9. Discuss five methods of evaluating descriptive research.