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SUBJECTS AND SAMPLING

85

generalizing the results. Hence it is

necessary

to understand who the

subjects are and how they

were

selected.

INTRODUCTION TO SAMPLING What Is a Subject?

A subject is an individual who participates in a research study or is some- one from whom data are collected. In experiments, for example, each person who is given a treatment and whose behavior is measured is con- sidered to be a subject. The term subject may also identify individuals whose behavior, past or present, is used as data, without their involve-

collected.

subject: person from ,++,om data are

ment in some type of treatment or

intewention.

For instance, a re-

searcher might use last year’s fourth-grade test scores

as

data, and each

fourth-grader included is considered to be a subject. In qualitative re-

search individuals are identified as

patiicipants

rather than subjects.

What Is a Population?

popuMion jects,

that

A

is a group of elements or cases, whether individuals,

or events,

conform to specific criteria and to which we intend

ob.

generalized.

~opu~ion: PWSOW to whom IwItS can be

to generalize the results of the research. This group is also referred to as

the target

p+~lation

or

ulziuene.

The specification of the population be-

gins with the research problem and review of literature, through which a population is described conceptually or in broad terms, for example, seventh-grade students, beginning teachers, principals, special educa- tion teachers, and so forth. A more specific definition is then needed, based on demographic characteristics. These characteristics are some-

times referred to as

delimitingvariables.

For example, in a study of

first-

grade minority students, there are three delimiting characteristics: stu- dents, first grade (age), and minority. Further delimiting variables should be added to provide as precise a definition possible. What about geographic region, socioeconomic status, gender, type of commu- nity, and types of schools? Are both public and private students in- cluded? How is “minority” defined? It is also important to distinguish the target population from a list of elements from which a group of sub jects is selected, which is termed the population In a study of beginning teachers, the target population may be begin- ning teachers across the United States, in all of schools. The survey population may be a list of beginning teachers that was obtained from

as

or samplingframe.

surv~

wes

four states. Although the intent may be all beginning teachers, the

re-

suits

are limited, or delimited, to beginning teachers in the four states. Thus, generalization from subjects to populations should be based on the survey population.

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