Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Michael F. Burnett


The purpose of this study was to determine the status of, and changes in, the statistical sophistication of research in vocational education in the 1980s. The study also explored relationships among statistical sophistication, problem area studied, and methodological strategy used in vocational education research. Data collected were obtained from 118 quantitative research reports randomly selected from the Journal of Vocational Education Research, the Journal of Agricultural Education, the Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, and the Journal of Vocational Home Economics Education published in the early (1980-1983) and the late 1980s (1986-89). The researcher developed instrument used in this study consisted of four components: background information, statistical sophistication, problem area, and methodological strategy. Each article examined was classified into one of four problem areas: teacher, student, curriculum, and setting, as proposed by Steiner (1978). Each of these articles also was classified into one of four methodological strategies: laboratory experiment, field experiment, field study and ex post facto research, and survey, as used by Schwandt (1983). The three sophistication levels used to classify each statistical technique recorded were basic, intermediate, and advanced. The statistical sophistication level of a research report was determined by the highest level of sophistication among all techniques used in that report. The results indicated that 30 different statistical techniques were used in the sample. The majority of research reports were classified as less than advanced in their levels of statistical sophistication. No significant changes were found in the use of statistical techniques nor did the statistical sophistication level of research change from the early 1980s to the late 1980s. The statistical sophistication of research was related to both problem areas studied and the methodological strategies used. The problem area most frequently studied was "curriculum". "Student" was the least studied problem area. Research on "student" tended to have a higher proportion classified as advanced statistical sophistication. "Survey" was found to be the most frequently identified strategy used. Very few research reports used the "laboratory experiment" strategy. Studies which used "field studies and ex post facto research" tended to have a larger proportion classified as advanced statistical sophistication than those which used "experiments" or "survey" strategies.