Core to the success of a higher education market research study is method of sampling -- a sample is a group of people drawn at random from all those people who are in your chosen market. If a researcher does not design the right sampling plan, then the research results will likely be inaccurate; thus, the right design is a key, first critical step in defining a research study.
Evidence-Based Innovation Blog
Higher education market research often involves both qualitative methods (MBA alumni focus groups, incoming student bulletin boards, etc.) as well as quantitative methods (alumni engagement surveys, business school image and awareness surveys, etc.) for complex projects – see comparison.
Once it is determined that qualitative and quantitative research is required to meet the goals of a research study, the next key question is: which one comes first?
Often, this question can be answered by considering where on the “learning curve” one is with the area of study being investigated.
As non-traditional qualitative techniques, such as online bulletin board research and mobile phone SMS research, have come into vogue with marketers, there’s been a lot of buzz in the market research community about their quality in comparison to traditional methods like ethnographies and focus group research.
The debate currently focuses on traditional in-person focus groups or interviews versus non-traditional Internet-based research techniques. A perusal of posts and articles, in addition to my ten years of direct experience in qualitative research, indicates that both have merits and drawbacks that can drive decisions when choosing the right methodology.