Quantitative Article Critique: Intellectual Ability, Learning Style, Personality, Achievement Motivation and Academic Success of Psychology Students in Higher Education

Subject: 💭 Psychology
Type: Evaluation Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1432
Topics: Personality, Academic Success
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Introduction

This paper’s purpose is to evaluate the quantitative research methods presented in the quantitative research article “Intellectual Ability, Learning Style, Personality, Achievement Motivation and Academic Success of Psychology Students in Higher Education” by Busato et al. (1999) published in Personality and Individual Differences. In the article under review, the authors try to find out how academic success in higher education can be predicted by an integration of factors such as achievement motivation, personality, learning style, and intellectual ability.  The expectations of the authors is partly disconfirmed and confirmed after they conduct a correlational analysis of 409 first-year psychology students that form the study sample. According to the study findings, academic success has a positive association with achievement motivation and intellectual ability (Busato et al. 1999). Moreover, the study did not detect any positive association between academic success and learning style. For the case of personality, the researcher found out that there was some positive association between academic success and personality factors like openness to experience, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and extraversion (Busato et al. 1999). Finally, the authors use the policy of the Dutch Ministry of Education and existing literature to discuss the implications of the study’s results. 

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Overview: Quantitative Methodology

Quantitative research methods attempt to provide a comprehensive analysis of a research problem using statistical, numerical, and mathematical analysis of data gathered using tools such as surveys, polls, and questionnaires. Besides, previously obtained data can be used for the purposes of conducting qualitative research. Accordingly, the most important element of qualitative research is the collection of data to help in the formulation of general assumptions regarding the field of study (Jackson, 2016). As quantitative research is highly objective, it is characterized by a reliance on a deductive research strategy. Accordingly, this quantitative methodology is characterized by the philosophical assumptions of positivism, post-positivism, and intersubjective agreement. Moreover, quantitative research is concerned with providing answers to questions of magnitude, variations between two phenomena’s, the identification of causal relationships, and mixed modes of variable interrogation (Samii, 2016).

Quantitative Approach Used by the Researchers

In this study, the researchers applied the correlation research approach that involves the use of statistical analyses to establish the relationship between (Creswell, 2013). In terms of data collection, the approach is observational as the design is not interested in finding out cause and effect (Anyan, 2013). The variables in a correlational research design are not controlled and therefore the researchers only focus on observing relationships. In this study, the researchers explore the relationship between academic success in higher education and different factors such as achievement motivation, personality, learning style, and intellectual ability. In order to explore these relationships, the researchers conduct correlation analysis of 409 first-year psychology students. The independent variables in this study include achievement motivation, personality, learning style, and intellectual ability while the dependent variable is academic success in higher education. 

Evaluation of Overall Strengths and Limitations of Quantitative Research

The quantitative approach used in this study has its strength and limitations seen in Table 1 below (Yilmaz, 2013).

Table 1: Strengths and Limitations of the correlational research approach

Strengths Limitations
Easy to generalize results of the study across the study population Challenge to access relevant secondary data
Relatively straightforward to apply to research Potentially difficult interpreting contextual basis of study phenomena
Collected data is highly objective, reliable, precise and consistent

There is no manipulation of variables

A risk that collected data may be insufficient to explain highly complex phenomena

It is not easy to establish cause and effect relationships

 

Evaluation of the Sampling Procedure

The researchers applied the convenience sampling procedure when coming up with the sample population for use in the study. The researchers decided to go for a homogeneous sample that is easy to define. In this case, it was more convenient to select first-year psychology students during the mandatory “Testweek” at the University as the population was readily available. Moreover, it was easy to find first-year students doing a similar course in one location. Some of the advantages associated with this sampling procedure are ease of data collection from selected elements and lower costs when it comes to locating sample population elements. The main shortcoming with this type of sampling procedure is that it the sample is not representative enough to enable researchers make scientific generalizations. Some of the ethical considerations that were included in the sampling procedure include; honesty and transparency in sampling, the anonymity of participants, protection of privacy, respect of dignity, and voluntary participation (Sieber & Tolich, 2013).  

Evaluation the Data Collection Methods

The quantitative data collection methods that were used in this study include observation and questionnaires. The strengths associated with observational data collection method include; in-depth understanding, strong in validity, effectiveness in explaining context and meaning, access to the participants in real life situations, less time to complete a study, and low costs (Frels & Onwuegbuzie, 2013). However, the observation method of data has its own limitations that include; high likelihood of conflict among researchers, might contravene ethical principles, largely depends on the researcher’s role, and can be too subjective due to observe influence. Questionnaires are also used in collecting data for two of the five variables. They are suitable for collecting data from a large sample within a short period of time. However, the method does not guarantee accurate responses. The ethical principles that were considered in this study include; informed consent, respect for dignity, and protection of privacy (Macdonald, 2017). When it comes to data collection, I would have combined observation with questionnaires in all the variables in order to minimize the limitations associated with the observation method. This type of study requires data that can be analyzed objectively and scientifically, and the only way to obtain such data is by complementing the observation method with questionnaires for every variable that is under study.  For this study, questionnaires are only used in two of the variables under study. In addition, questionnaires can make possible to collect data from a large sample population like the in this study within the shortest time possible and at a lower cost.    

Evaluation of Internal Validity and External Validity

Internal validity of quantitative research is when extraneous factors do not cause observed effects in both dependent and independent variables. In other words, the observed effects of research variables are real. On the other hand, external validity is when the extraneous factors beyond the current study influence research findings. In this study, the internal validity is based on the fact that only data on independent variables in the study was collected and used in the analysis. The fact that only the factors that were selected for the study are subjected to investigation completely locks out other extraneous factors that might influence the observed effects. However, the external validity of this study is under threat as a result of external factors such as the validity of the sample population, environmental validity, and time validity. The generalization of the study also affects the external validity of this research. 

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Evaluation of Research Design

The researchers designed this study in a systematic manner were each independent variable is measured against the dependent variable and analyzed using the most appropriate methods such as questionnaires, inventories, and ability tests. As a result, it is easy to come up with accurate conclusions that answer the research question. In this study, the research question is to find out whether there is a positive relationship between academic successes in higher education with the integration of factors such as personality, achievement motivation, and intellectual ability, and learning style. The study has been able to adequately address the research question based on separate measurement and analysis of each factor. 

Conclusion

In concluding this article critique, each section of the article by Busato et al. (1999) has been critically analyzed to determine its strengths and limitations. In addition, shortcomings were identified as guidelines for improving the quality of the article. Overall, it should be remarked that this article is a weak source for providing quantitatively sound conclusions regarding a quantitative research. Given that, the authors should review this article by appending the data collection and research design sections for comprehensiveness. Nonetheless, it significantly helps in increasing our understanding the relationship between integration of factors such as achievement motivation, personality, learning style, and intellectual ability. Therefore, it is the assertion of this reviewer that researchers should do more to ensure that their facts are relevant and conclusive when dealing with such a complex study. Although it is challenging generalizing the findings of the article, it is useful in creating a connection between education settings and theoretical frameworks. 

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  1. Anyan, F. (2013). The influence of power shifts in data collection and analysis stages: A focus on qualitative research interview. The Qualitative Report, 18(18), 1.
  2. Busato et al. (1999). Intellectual Ability, Learning Style, Personality, Achievement Motivation and Academic Success of Psychology Students in Higher Education.  Personality and Individual Differences, 29 (2000), 1057-1068. 
  3. Creswell, J. W. (2013). Research design: A qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  4. Frels, R. K., & Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (2013). Administering quantitative instruments with qualitative interviews: A mixed research approach. Journal of Counseling & Development, 91(2), 184-194.
  5. Jackson, E. A. (2016). Media Review: Quantitative Methods in Educational Research: The Role of Numbers Made-Easy. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1558689816668690.
  6. Macdonald, S. (2017). Embedded Ethics and Research Integrity: A Response to ‘The Quest for Generic Ethics Principles in Social Science Research’ by David Carpenter. In Finding Common Ground: Consensus in Research Ethics Across the Social Sciences (pp. 29-35). Emerald Publishing Limited.
  7. Samii, C. (2016). Causal empiricism in quantitative research. The Journal of Politics, 78(3), 941-955.
  8. Sieber, J. E., & Tolich, M. B. (2013). Planning ethically responsible research (Vol. 31). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  9. Yilmaz, K. (2013). Comparison of quantitative and qualitative research traditions: Epistemological, theoretical, and methodological differences. European Journal of Education, 48(2), 311-325.
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