There are two other distinctive characteristics of a quantitative research methodology. One is that quantitative research measures observations by means of scales (Krathwohl, 1997, p. 24). The scales in this case study are represented by grades. The second characteristic is that a quantitative study focuses on a direct cause-and-effect relationship between two variables (Krathwohl, 1997, p. 24). The academic puzzle at the root of this study is the relationship that is hypothesized to exist between a student’s ICTs use and the motivational orientation of students on one hand and an improvement in academic performance on the other. This is the basic hypothesis that drives this research. The following quotation by Bentz and Shapiro (1998, p. 121) serves to confirm the quantitative nature of this research: “Inquiry in the quantitative (and behavioural) tradition is most broadly characterized by a concern with explanation, and explanation is conceptualized in a manner similar to the natural
Rahimi, F. (2010), ICT, UL 105 science model. That is, researchers look for general law-like relationship among phenomenon as the key to casual relationship. At this point it is important to take note of the long debated argument that “correlation is not causation” (Holland, 1986, p. 945). That is, with so many possible factors effecting students’ academic performance, even if there might exist a statistical correlation between various variables of this study and the academic performance, it does not necessary imply that they are the cause of it. One needs to look at the particular case to arrive at such a conclusion. I used two main tools to obtain the necessary data. The first tool was a questionnaire that was designed to provide the required data about student computer access, computer use, and motivational orientation. The second tool collected information about the academic performance of students from the University of Limpopo’s student database. 3.4.1 Participants This section provides a brief analysis of the students who participated in the study. Special attention is given to the number of participants from each school and faculty and to the gender composition of the sample. A more comprehensive analysis with appropriate findings can be found in the findings and discussions sections of Chapter 4. This study is specifically focused on students from a disadvantaged background. The University of Limpopo is one of the higher education institutions that was historically disadvantaged by the social, economic and political circumstances that prevailed prior to 1994. Much of the historical culture of the university has remained the same as it was under the old regime, even though it has been gradually changing since 1994. For the purposes of this study, the term “disadvantaged” refers to a student who, because of economic and social conditions, received an inadequate academic education prior to registration at
Rahimi, F. (2010), ICT, UL 106 the university and who therefore requires special attention and remedial assistance in order to meet the standards of the university. The question that this
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