Making Sense of Interviews and Focus Groups


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A Qualitative Approach to Research

Open Workshop 2012-13
Free elearning seminar "Elements of Research Methodology "
University of Patras

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Making Sense of Interviews and Focus Groups

  1. 1. A Qualitative Approach to Research Making Sense of Interviews and Focus Groups Marianna Vivitsou, PhD Scholar, Researcher CICERO Learning Network, University of Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2. Our discussion focus the fundamental issues underpinning qualitative research and how this differs from the quantitative approach interviews and focus groups on stage as qualitative data collection methods
  3. 3. Inspiration from the Literature Polkinghorne, D. (1988). Narrative knowing and the human sciences. State University of New York Press, Albany, New York. Some more suggested readings  Creswell, J.W. Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Traditions. Sage Publishing Company. Thousand Oaks, CA, 1998.  Halkier, B. (2010). Focus groups as social enactments: integrating interaction and content in the analysis of focus group data. Qualitative Research, 10(71), pp. 71-89.  Denzin, N.K., Interpretive Ethnography: Ethnographic Practices for the 21st Century. Sage Publishing Company. Thousand Oaks, CA, 1997.  Denzin, N. and Lincoln, Y. Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials. Sage Publishing, Thousand Oaks, CA, 1998.  Polkinghorne, D. (1988). Narrative knowing and the human sciences. State University of New York Press, Albany, New York.  Shank, G. Qualitative Research: A Personal Skills Approach. Merrill Prentice Hall. Columbus, Ohio, 2002.
  4. 4. Human sciences the study of the material, organic and meaning structures of reality (= the human realm) Multi-level interactions :  genetically given dispositions interacting with habits, behaviours and thought processes ‘The above stratification extends to the cultural rules and language systems in which individuals are conjoined in social groups. The environment produced, culture and meaning, holds traditions and conventions to which individuals are connected in a dialectic manner.’
  5. 5. The study of meaning Requires the use of linguistic data The structure of language can be studied as an indication of the structure of the realm of meaning Language is commensurate with meaning. In its ordinary use it carries meanings among people. Information about other people’s realm of meaning can be gathered through the messages they give about their experiences.
  6. 6. The goal of qualitative research To produce clear and accurate descriptions of the structures and forms of the various meaning systems This type of outcome does not provide information for the prediction and control of behavior; instead, it provides a kind of knowledge that individuals and groups can use to increase the power and control they have over their own actions Data gathering techniques:  self-reflection, interviews, collection of artifacts Types of Interviews:  structured, semi-structured, in-depth
  7. 7. Qualitative data associal enactments ‘… Focus group data and individual interview data all can be seen as social practitioners’ performances in different contexts.’ This view underlines the necessity of including the social interaction dynamics in analyzing focus group data. (Halkier, 2010)
  8. 8. Thank Youfor Your Attention!  Mari@nna Vivitsou  Contact: