Developmental research studies assess changes over an extended period of time. These studies take place over, months, years, decades, or even lifetimes. Considering the extended stretches of time there are certain inherent problems involved in developmental research studies. Chief among them is that subject may drop out, move away or even suffer a premature death during the course of the study. Other concerns include outside life events that may interrupt the focus of the subjects. There are three main Research Designs formulated in order to develop the highest possible quality data. These include Longitudinal Studies, Cross Sectional Studies and Cross Sequential Studies.
Evaluation of the Research Designs
Longitudinal Studies follow subjects, or groups of subjects and tract their development over terms of months and years. This allows the research to develop very high quality quantitative data and qualitative data but it does have potential drawbacks. There is the time factor, not just the time span, but also the amount of time the researchers must spend tracking and periodically studying their subjects. Additionally, this design model is most likely to be influenced by subject mortality and other risk factors.
Cross Sectional Studies lessen the time and therefore, the potential risk factors that are encountered by researchers who utilize longitudinal studies. These studies evaluate different ages at the same time by evaluating similar groups at different ages rather than tracking one group over the course of time. These studies are valuable in a variety of ways, it takes far less time to conduct a cross sectional study than it does to conduct a longitudinal study or a cross sequential study. The groups are more likely to express their own personal opinion consistent with the greater social values extant at the time.
Cross Sequential Studies are an amalgam of both longitudinal studies and cross sectional studies. These studies track different age groups over a shorter term of years than those of the longitudinal studies. By doing that the researcher maximizes the developmental value and can account for evolving environmental influences as well as having immediate research study data.
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Potential Study Issues
Tools to conduct this research can include secondary participation, in person observations, and case studies and content analysis. . Due to the socially sensitive nature of the topic and the tendency for prevarication individuals tend to have had in previous studies, in person interviews are the most likely to reveal unspoken information as well as cold facts since the added benefit of researcher observation comes into play. In person interviews, along with secondary tools also provide data that is specific to the span of individuals at that time and is not subject to rapidly shifting social mores. Case studies and content analysis do not provide these advantages.
Our Learning Team determined that the most effective developmental research study format to evaluate the changes in sexual attitudes over time. Considering the extended stretches of time and the effects of peer, social, political and economic changes that can affect individuals it is the most effective method to collect a “snap shot” of a broad demographic of age, social positioning and values that would provide the needed quality of quantitative and qualitative data for our study.
ALL Psych On Line. (2013). Research Methods - Research Designs. Retrieved 08 10, 2013, from ALL Psych On Line - The Virtual Psychology Classroom: http://allpsych.com/researchmethods/developmentalresearch.html
Swan, W. A. (2008, 09 14). The Three Main Types of Data Collection Tools. Retrieved 08 03, 2013, from Scienceray: http://scienceray.com/technology/information/the-three-main-types-of-data-collection-tools/