Comparative Evaluation of the Qualitative and Quantitative Research on English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Policy at Primary Education in Indonesia and Other EFL Contexts

Ezis Japar Sidik, Akhmad Baihaqi, Dhafid Wahyu Utomo


The two dichotomous theories of positivism and interpretivism, respectively, underpin quantitative and qualitative methods to social research. Despite the fact that there are many other research paradigms, positivism and interpretivism are more commonly used in social research than other paradigms. These paradigms appear to be at odds not just in philosophical ideas, but also on a practical level, particularly in relation to research findings that are significant to educational policy-making. In this sense, there are still heated discussions about the research method that is more useful and transferrable to policy development. This study will look at the benefits and drawbacks of using qualitative and quantitative methodologies in educational policy research, specifically in the setting of English as a foreign language (EFL) in elementary school. The research begins with a philosophical introduction to social research, followed by a look at paradigmatic contestations between the two views, as well as their strengths and limits. The discussion continues with an explanation of current EFL policy developments, followed by a comparison of papers from respective quantitative and qualitative approaches, an assessment of the dominant research approach in EFL policy, and the ethical difficulties that must be addressed. The findings of this study show that no single approach can adequately address all facets of social processes. Each approach is tailored to certain goals and focuses, and neither can be used in place of the other. As a result, the most important consideration in deciding which technique to use in social research is the nature of the topics that will be explored.

Full Text:



Ari, D., Jacobs, A. and Razavieh, A. (2009, 8th Edition) Introduction to research in education. London: Cengage Learning.

Atkins, L. and Wallace, S. (2012) Qualitative research in education. London: Sage Publications.

Bailey, C. (2007, 2nd Edition) A guide to qualitative field research. London: Pine Forge Press.

Barbie, E. (2004, 10th Edition) The practice of social research. Belmont: Thomson.

Bogdan, R. and Biklen, S. (2007, 5th Edition) Qualitative research for education – An introduction to theory and methods. Boston: Pearson.

Bryman, A. (2016, 5th Edition) Social research methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bryman, A. (1988) Quantity and quality in social research. New York: Routledge.

Bulmer, M. (2001, 2nd Edition) 'The ethics of social research', in Gilbert, N. (Ed) Researching social life. London: Sage Publication.

Clark, A., & Moss, P. (2011, 2nd Edition) Listening to young children: the mosaic approach. London: National Children’s Bureau.

Clarke, A. (2001) ‘Research and the policy-making process’, in Gilbert, N. (Ed) Researching social life. London: Sage Publications.

Crotty, M. (1998) The foundations of social research – Meaning and perspective in the research process. London: Sage Publications.

Danzin, N. and Lincoln, Y. (2011) ‘Introduction – The discipline and practice of Qualitative research’, in Danzin, N. and Lincoln, Y. (Eds) Handbook of Qualitative Research. Los Angeles: Sage.

Desch, M. (2014) 'What do policymakers want from us? Results of a survey of current and former senior national security decision makers', International Studies Quarterly, 58(4), pp1-39.

Du, L. (2010) 'Assess the Critical Period Hypothesis in Second Language Acquisition', English Language Teaching, 3(2), p219-224.

Erkan, S. (2015) 'Evaluation primary school students’ achievement of objectives in English lessons', Educational Research and Reviews, 10(15), pp2153-2163.

Firestone, W. (1987) ‘Meaning in method: The rhetoric of quantitative and qualitative research’, Educational Researcher, pp16-21.

Hasan, M. (2016) ‘Positivism: to what extent does it aid our understanding of the contemporary social world?’ Quality and Quantity, 50(1), pp317-325.

Heaton, J. (2004) Reworking qualitative data. London: Sage Publications.

Homan, R. (1991) The ethics of social research. Essex: Longman.

Hussein, M., Hirst, S. and Osuji, V. (2014) ‘Using grounded theory as a method of inquiry: advantages and disadvantages’, The Qualitative Report, 19, pp1-15.

Kelle, U. (2006) 'Combining qualitative and quantitative methods in research practice: purposes and advantages', Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(4), pp293-311.

Luis, C. and Canadas, I. (2014). Qualitative and quantitative methods to assess the qualities of a lecturer: What qualities are demanded by on-line and on-site students?. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 143, pp106-111.

Ma, A. and Norwich, B. (2007) ‘Triangulation and theoretical understanding’, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 10(3), p211-266.

Mackenzie, N. and Knipe, S. (2006) ‘Research dilemmas: Paradigms, methods and methodology’, Issues in Educational Research, 16(2), pp193-205.

Matthews, B. and Ross, L. (2010) Research methods – A practical guide for the social sciences. Essex: Pearson Education.

Miles, M. Huberman, A. and Saldana, J. (2014, 3rd Edition) Qualitative data analysis – A methods sourcebook. London: Sage Publication.

Nguyen, L., Hamid. H., and Renshaw, P. (2016) 'English in the primary classroom in Vietnam: students’ lived experiences and their social and policy implications', Current Issues in Language Planning, 17(2), pp191-214.

Oakley, A. (2007) ‘Evidence-informed policy and practice: challenges for social science’, in Hammersley, M. (Ed) Educational research and evidence-based practice. London: Sage Publications.

Oliver-Hoyo, M. and DeeDee, A. (2006) ‘The use of triangulation methods in qualitative educational research’, Journal of College Science Teaching, 35(4), p42-47.

Onwuegbuzie, A. and Leech, N. (2005) 'On becoming a pragmatic researcher: the importance of combining quantitative and qualitative research methodologies', International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 8(5), pp375-387.

Punch, K. (2005, 2nd Edition) Introduction to social research – Quantitative and qualitative approaches. London: Sage.

Ragin, C. and Amoroso, L. (2011, 2nd Edition) Constructing social research. London: Sage Publication.

Rahman, M.S. (2017). The advantages and disadvantages of using qualitative and quantitative approaches and methods in language “testing and assessment” research: a literature review , Journal of Education and Learning, 6(1), pp102-112.

Rachmajanti, S. (2008) 'Impact of English instruction at the elementary schools on the students' achievement of English at the lower secondary school', TEFLIN Journal, 19(2), pp160-183.

Robert, L. and Allen, P. (2015) 'Exploring ethical issues associated with using online surveys in education research', Educational Research and Evaluation, 21(2), pp95-108.

Ruyun (2016) 'The age factor in second language learning', Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 6(11), pp2164-2168.

Scotland, J. (2012) ‘Exploring the Philosophical Underpinnings of Research: Relating Ontology and Epistemology to the Methodology and Methods of the Scientific, Interpretive, and Critical Research Paradigms’, English Language Teaching, Vol. 5(9), pp9-15.

Shchwandt, T. (2000) 'Three epistemological stances for qualitative inquiry: interpretivism, hermeneutics, and social construction', in Denzin, N and Lincoln, Y. (Eds) Handbook of qualitative research. London: Sage Publication.

Slevitch, L. (2011) 'Qualitative and quantitative methodologies compared: Ontological and epistemological perspectives', Journal of Quality Assurance in Hospitality and Tourism, 12(1), pp73-81.

Somekh, B. (2011) ‘Research in the social sciences’, in Somekh, B. and Lewin, C. (Eds) Theory and Methods in Social Research. London: Sage Publication.

Stutchbury, K. and Fox, A. (2009) 'Ethics in educational research: introducing a methodological tool for effective ethical analysis', Cambridge Journal of Education, 39(4), pp489-504.

Trafimow, D. (2014) 'Considering quantitative and qualitative issues together', Qualitative Research in Psychology, 11(1), pp15-24.

Villiers, R. and Fouché, J. (2015) ‘Philosophical Paradigms and Other Underpinnings of the Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods: An Accounting Education Perspective’, Journal of Social Sciences/ Fouchéol, 43(2), pp125-142.

Waring, M. (2013) ‘Finding your theoretical position’, in Arthur, A. Waring, W. Coe, R. & Hedges, L. (Eds) Research methods & methodologies in education. London: Sage Publication.

Weber, R. (2004) ‘The rhetoric of positivism versus interpretivism: A personal view’, MIS Quarterly, 28(01), ppiii-xii.

Whitty, G. (2007) ‘Education(al) research and education policy-making: is conflict inevitable?’, in Saunders, L. (Ed) Educational Research and Policy-making. Oxon: Routledge.

Zein, S. (2016) ‘Pre-service education for primary school English teachers in Indonesia: policy implications’, Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 36(sup1), pp119-134.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  

Journal of English Language Teaching and Cultural Studies is published by English Education Department, Postgraduate, Universitas Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa, Indonesia. 

Email Address: