Sampling: Quantitative Methods
Published Online: 5 NOV 2012
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The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics
How to Cite
Brown, J. D. 2012. Sampling: Quantitative Methods. The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics.
- Published Online: 5 NOV 2012
Sampling is the act of choosing a smaller, more manageable subset of the objects or members of a population to include in an investigation in order to study with greater ease something about that population. In other words, sampling allows researchers to select a subset of the objects or members of a population to represent the total population. Sampling is used in language research when the objects or members (hereafter simply objects or members, but not both) of a population are so numerous that investigating all of them would be unwieldy. Such objects of study might include the total populations of all ESL learners, TOEFL examinees, essay raters, words, cohesive devices, and so on. For instance, to study the test scores of the roughly one million TOEFL examinees in a given year, a researcher might sample just 15,000. Sampling can thus increase the researcher's efficiency by minimizing the resources and effort needed to conduct the project (Brown, 2001, p. 71), while at the same time increasing the speed, scope, and accuracy of the project (as explained in Cochran, 1977, pp. 12).
Keywords: advanced statistics; assessment methods in applied linguistics; research methods in applied linguistics