Doing Grounded Thoery

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Presentation delivered on 26th of March 2009 in the Centre for Research and Innovation in Learning and Teaching for post-graduate students in NCI

Published in: Education, Technology

Doing Grounded Thoery

  1. 1. Doing Grounded Theory My experience of grounded theory practice
  2. 2. Research Questions <ul><li>Investigate adult learning and motivation for basic digital literacy: </li></ul><ul><li>How should we characterise learning for basic digital literacy? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the key influences on a person’s decision to learn basic digital skills? </li></ul><ul><li>How should pedagogic design be used to support digital literacy in adults? </li></ul><ul><li>Based on the decisions, actions and experiences of students of Know IT </li></ul>
  3. 3. Deciding on a method <ul><li>Options: </li></ul><ul><li>A detailed survey using a sample from the student group </li></ul><ul><li>Descriptive qualitative research - in-depth interviews, focus groups, observations </li></ul><ul><li>Case studies </li></ul><ul><li>Grounded theory practice </li></ul>
  4. 4. Why I adopted grounded theory practice <ul><li>Insights from how students themselves perceived the process of acting to gain new skills. </li></ul><ul><li>The practice of grounded theory provides a systematic approach to data gathering, analysis and interpretation. </li></ul><ul><li>I was attracted by the inductive approach to theory building as I felt that there were few appropriate existing theories to draw from. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Grounded Theory Practice <ul><li>The Discovery of Grounded Theory by Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss (1968). </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Terminally ill patients in hospitals - developed the grounded approach as a means of gleaning constructs and theory from patient interviews. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Later – they differed on approach and procedures to be undertaken by researchers involved in grounded theory practice. </li></ul><ul><li>Separate publications by Glaser and Strauss & Corbin </li></ul>
  6. 6. Definition <ul><li>Strauss and Corbin </li></ul><ul><li>“ a qualitative research method that uses a systematic set of procedures to develop an inductively derived grounded theory about a phenomenon” </li></ul><ul><li>(1998 p24) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Characteristics of grounded theory practice <ul><li>Simultaneous involvement in data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Constructing analytic codes and categories from data, not from preconceived logically deduced hypothesis; </li></ul><ul><li>Using the constant comparative method; </li></ul><ul><li>Advancing theory development during each step of data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Memo writing to elaborate categories, specify their properties, define relationships between categories and identify gaps; </li></ul><ul><li>Sampling aimed toward theory construction, not for population representativeness; </li></ul><ul><li>Conducting the literature review after developing an independent analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>(Charmaz, 2006 p 6) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Characteristics of grounded theory practice <ul><li>Simultaneous involvement in data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Constructing analytic codes and categories from data, not from preconceived logically deduced hypothesis; </li></ul><ul><li>Using the constant comparative method; </li></ul><ul><li>Advancing theory development during each step of data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Memo writing to elaborate categories, specify their properties, define relationships between categories and identify gaps; </li></ul><ul><li>Sampling aimed toward theory construction, not for population representativeness; </li></ul><ul><li>Conducting the literature review after developing an independent analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>(Charmaz, 2006 p 6) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Interview Participants
  10. 10. Simultaneous Involvement in Data Collection and Analysis <ul><li>Audio recording of interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Transcription </li></ul><ul><li>Initial Coding </li></ul>
  11. 11. Initial Coding
  12. 12. Characteristics of grounded theory practice <ul><li>Simultaneous involvement in data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Constructing analytic codes and categories from data, not from preconceived logically deduced hypothesis; </li></ul><ul><li>Using the constant comparative method; </li></ul><ul><li>Advancing theory development during each step of data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Memo writing to elaborate categories, specify their properties, define relationships between categories and identify gaps; </li></ul><ul><li>Sampling aimed toward theory construction, not for population representativeness; </li></ul><ul><li>Conducting the literature review after developing an independent analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>(Charmaz, 2006 p 6) </li></ul>
  13. 13. Constructing Analytic Codes and Categories from Data <ul><li>Remain open throughout the process - look for meaning within the data and not from preconceived theories. </li></ul><ul><li>Yet, I did not suppress past experience, previous exposure to theory, personal hunches and intuition. </li></ul><ul><li>Be mindful of these influences </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure that all of the emerging concepts were firmly grounded in the data derived from my sources. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Characteristics of grounded theory practice <ul><li>Simultaneous involvement in data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Constructing analytic codes and categories from data, not from preconceived logically deduced hypothesis; </li></ul><ul><li>Using the constant comparative method; </li></ul><ul><li>Advancing theory development during each step of data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Memo writing to elaborate categories, specify their properties, define relationships between categories and identify gaps; </li></ul><ul><li>Sampling aimed toward theory construction, not for population representativeness; </li></ul><ul><li>Conducting the literature review after developing an independent analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>(Charmaz, 2006 p 6) </li></ul>
  15. 15. Using the Constant Comparative Method <ul><li>Grounded theory practice calls for different types of code comparison - within codes, between codes and between codes in different cases. </li></ul><ul><li>N Vivo 7 software – good for constant comparison </li></ul><ul><li>As suggested by Strauss and Corbin (1990), I used the term “category” to denote a classification of concepts. </li></ul><ul><li>When I refer to categories, I denote them as proper nouns as in “Competence Desire” or “Proximate Sites of Engagement”. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Specific Competence Desire versus General Competence Desire
  17. 17. Conditional Relationship Guide <ul><li>What is [the category]? </li></ul><ul><li>(Using a participant’s words helps avoid bias.) </li></ul><ul><li>When does [the category] occur? </li></ul><ul><li>(Using “during...” helps form the answer.) </li></ul><ul><li>Where does [the category] occur? </li></ul><ul><li>(Using “in...” helps form the answer.) </li></ul><ul><li>Why does [the category] occur? </li></ul><ul><li>(Using “because...” helps form the answer.) </li></ul><ul><li>How does [the category] occur? </li></ul><ul><li>(Using “by...” helps form the answer.) </li></ul><ul><li>With what Consequence does [the category] occur or is [the category] </li></ul><ul><li>understood? </li></ul><ul><li>From Scott 2004 p115-6 </li></ul>
  18. 18. Conditional Relationship Guide for Specific Competence Desire
  19. 19. Characteristics of grounded theory practice <ul><li>Simultaneous involvement in data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Constructing analytic codes and categories from data, not from preconceived logically deduced hypothesis; </li></ul><ul><li>Using the constant comparative method; </li></ul><ul><li>Advancing theory development during each step of data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Memo writing to elaborate categories, specify their properties, define relationships between categories and identify gaps; </li></ul><ul><li>Sampling aimed toward theory construction, not for population representativeness; </li></ul><ul><li>Conducting the literature review after developing an independent analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>(Charmaz, 2006 p 6) </li></ul>
  20. 20. Advancing Theory Development <ul><li>Advancing theory development during each step of data collection and analysis </li></ul><ul><li>I arranged the codes and concepts into groups; </li></ul><ul><li>Example, how Learning Identity was formed: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Codes such as “age comparisons” and “regret at missed opportunities” were grouped into a cluster labelled “ feelings ”; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Codes such as “school and courses” and “changes in life and workplace” were grouped into a cluster labelled “ experiences ”. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Feelings and experiences in turn, contributed to the establishment of the category called Learning Identity . </li></ul></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Learning Identity
  22. 22. Characteristics of grounded theory practice <ul><li>Simultaneous involvement in data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Constructing analytic codes and categories from data, not from preconceived logically deduced hypothesis; </li></ul><ul><li>Using the constant comparative method; </li></ul><ul><li>Advancing theory development during each step of data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Memo writing to elaborate categories, specify their properties, define relationships between categories and identify gaps; </li></ul><ul><li>Sampling aimed toward theory construction, not for population representativeness; </li></ul><ul><li>Conducting the literature review after developing an independent analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>(Charmaz, 2006 p 6) </li></ul>
  23. 23. Memo Writing <ul><li>For me the defining characteristic of memo writing is the non-linear nature of the analytical and writing process. </li></ul><ul><li>Each of the categories evolved through a sequence of memos. </li></ul><ul><li>Category naming was an important point in the process </li></ul><ul><li>The NVivo7 software facilitated either grouping concepts together (called tree nodes in NVivo7) or as stand-alone entities (free nodes). </li></ul><ul><li>I also used mind-mapping software to draft models and explore relationships. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Memo Writing <ul><li>The important point and I believe this is why memo writing is so fundamental to the grounded theory process, is that many memos were evolving simultaneously. </li></ul><ul><li>The analytical process did not proceed through a series of iterative steps. </li></ul><ul><li>Rather it was a process of incubating many different ideas and growing these through questioning and further data comparison. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Memo Writing <ul><li>However, there were also many failed memos - ideas that did not stack up, connections that I thought might be important at an early stage but with the addition of new data and further analysis proved in the end to lack sufficient substance for inclusion in the final model. </li></ul><ul><li>In many cases such failed memos arose as a consequence of my over enthusiastic initial coding wherein I created too many superfluous codes. </li></ul><ul><li>The practice of memo writing resolved this and was an important step in my own understanding of the grounded theory process. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Characteristics of grounded theory practice <ul><li>Simultaneous involvement in data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Constructing analytic codes and categories from data, not from preconceived logically deduced hypothesis; </li></ul><ul><li>Using the constant comparative method; </li></ul><ul><li>Advancing theory development during each step of data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Memo writing to elaborate categories, specify their properties, define relationships between categories and identify gaps; </li></ul><ul><li>Sampling aimed toward theory construction, not for population representativeness; </li></ul><ul><li>Conducting the literature review after developing an independent analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>(Charmaz, 2006 p 6) </li></ul>
  27. 27. Sampling Aimed Toward Theory Construction <ul><li>Selection and sequencing of interviewees was directed toward theory building rather than representative sampling. </li></ul><ul><li>The time gaps between interviews facilitated interim analysis to inform future interview strategies. </li></ul><ul><li>The fact that Know IT was a flexible blended learning course meant that students from different organisations were starting the course throughout the data-gathering period. </li></ul><ul><li>Despite the progression of time the student perspective was always that of a course starter or a student engaged at an early stage in the learning process. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Characteristics of grounded theory practice <ul><li>Simultaneous involvement in data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Constructing analytic codes and categories from data, not from preconceived logically deduced hypothesis; </li></ul><ul><li>Using the constant comparative method; </li></ul><ul><li>Advancing theory development during each step of data collection and analysis; </li></ul><ul><li>Memo writing to elaborate categories, specify their properties, define relationships between categories and identify gaps; </li></ul><ul><li>Sampling aimed toward theory construction, not for population representativeness; </li></ul><ul><li>Conducting the literature review after developing an independent analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>(Charmaz, 2006 p 6) </li></ul>
  29. 29. Literature Review <ul><li>From the outset Glaser and Strauss (1968) positioned grounded theory as a reaction against contemporary positivist methodologies that sought to test grand theories through empirical studies designed to test preconceived hypothesises. </li></ul><ul><li>They argued that grounded theory is a process of theory building and that the substantive literature review should take place after the independent theory begins to emerge. </li></ul><ul><li>Often confusion regarding how to integrate the literature review in conducting research using grounded theory practice. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Literature Review <ul><ul><ul><li>To undertake an extensive review of literature before the emergence of a core category violates the basic premise of GT—that being, the theory emerges from the data not from extant theory. It also runs the risk of clouding the researcher’s ability to remain open to the emergence of a completely new core category that has not figured prominently in the research to date thereby thwarting the theoretical sensitivity. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>(Glaser and Holton, 2004 section 3.5) </li></ul>
  31. 31. Literature Review <ul><li>To paraphrase the Glaser approach – the literature review should not take place either before or after the analytical process but should be included as part of it . </li></ul><ul><li>In Glaser’s view, other theories may be treated as new data and worked into an emerging theory through the constant comparison method . </li></ul>
  32. 32. A Grounded Theory
  33. 33. Conclusions <ul><li>Grounded theory practice is appropriate for certain types of research questions </li></ul><ul><li>There is ample advice, guidelines and procedures available in the literature </li></ul><ul><li>Some of the approaches and advice is contradictory </li></ul><ul><li>It is an intensive method but rigorous method </li></ul>
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