Book by Burke Johnson & Larry Christensen
Review by Anita L. Carter
University Advising Center
Wayne State University

This is a superior book with many features that make for an excellent textbook.   It includes learning objectives at the beginning of each chapter, tables as a way to organize the chapter, margin notes to highlight important concepts, review questions at the end of each section, diagrams where appropriate throughout, research exercises, relevant internet sites and recommended reading for more in depth study. 

It also features a dedicated web site for use as a student study guide with supplemental material that is quite extensive. The web-based study guide includes interactive concept maps for each chapter, how to write a research report APA style, how to read a research article, flashcards, quizzes, and other materials.

This text does an excellent job of defining the varying types of research and settles the question of whether qualitative or quantitative is superior for educational research by including mixed research models as a preferred model in some cases.  It provides a useful comparison of research methodologies, and examples of how each might be characterized in a research topic. It also provides a good explanation of when each major research paradigm would be appropriate.  The book includes a section on weak experimental models and quasi-experimental design and explains the flaws of such models. This is especially important to those of us who don’t do research regularly, but are asked to review journal articles and evaluate program outcomes to determine whether what we are doing has impact on students.

This book even goes so far as providing guidance on writing the research report and makes suggestions as to the appropriate venue; journal, book chapter, or monograph.  This is especially helpful to those of us who are using mixed research methods and may be submitting articles to journals that traditionally favor qualitative or quantitative research methods.

No book on educational research would be worthwhile without a substantive section on statistics.  This book is no exception.  What makes it so noteworthy is the clarity with which the statistical methods are covered. Descriptive statistics and inferential statistics are each covered separately with diagrams, margin notes, example, and practice on the dedicated web site. The chapter on data analysis in qualitative and mixed research provides systematic guidance in analyzing and validating the data gleaned in the data-collection.

This text is a valuable resource even for those of us who don’t conduct research.  By understanding the basics covered in this text, anyone who reads research articles can easily judge the validity of the findings reported and the flaws in the research design.  This is especially important when considering findings that may impact the students with whom we work.

Although this book would not be something I would recommend for every advising professional, it is one I would recommend as a “must have” for anyone involved in research and program evaluation and one that an advising office should own.

Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches (3rd edition) (2008) Book by Burke Johnson & Larry Christensen. Review by Anita L. Carter. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications 664 pp., $84.94, (hardback), ISBN # 978-1-412954-563
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