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Classic Grounded Theory to Investigate Evidence-based Course Leadership

Nieky van Veggel
Nieky van Veggel
Nieky van VeggelSenior Lecturer in Animal Health at Writtle University College

This is a presentation delivered at the inaugural Grounded Theory Network symposium at Liverpool John Moores University, 22 November 2018.

Classic Grounded Theory to Investigate Evidence-based Course Leadership

1 of 15
Classic Grounded Theory to Investigate
Evidence-based Course Leadership
Approach to research
Nieky van Veggel MSc
Background
• Course leaders are academic staff who operate on the
interface of education management, teaching, research
and pastoral care
• Evidence-based practice requires a practitioner to make
decisions based on the current best available evidence
after careful appraisal of sources
• Literature on course leadership is limited, let alone on
how course leaders do their job. Literature on
courseleadership in small-specialist HEI is non-existent.
van Veggel & Howlett (2018)
How am I doing this?
• Interviewing course leaders in my own institution and two
other similar small specialist UK HEIs
• Interviews
• Recorded
• Face-to-face (own institution), ? telephone (external
institutions)
Justifying my methodology. Why GT?
• No theory currently exists that could explain phenomena in my field
• GT allows emergence of a theory from data without relying on an existing
theory (Engward, 2013)
• Leadership is a social influence process (Parry, 1998)
• Classic/Glaserian GT aims to discover a basic social process (Levers, 2013)
• Post-positivist paradigm lends itself to researching complex social
phenomena whilst maintaining objectivity and rigour (Kennedy &
Lingard, 2006)
• GT is an appropriate methodology for leadership research (Toor &
Ofori, 2008) also for EBP and for education experience research.
• Course leaders are best placed to inform research about course
leaders (Scott & Scott, 2015)
• Rigour and transparency and systematic nature of GT fit with my
personal research and evidence-based practice beliefs
Justifying my stance
• In order to accurately generate theory from
observations, it is important to be as objective
as possible  there is an objective truth
• Theory emerges from data through GT process
(Glaser, 1978) and can explain reality. However,
no theory is perfect.
• However, some bias through beliefs and values
is unavoidable. Important to recognise it 
reflexivity is essential
Epistemology
Ontology
Axiology
Justifying my paradigm
Post-positivist
Positivist
Interpretivist
Me Constructionist
Levers (2013)
Ad

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Classic Grounded Theory to Investigate Evidence-based Course Leadership

  • 1. Classic Grounded Theory to Investigate Evidence-based Course Leadership Approach to research Nieky van Veggel MSc
  • 2. Background • Course leaders are academic staff who operate on the interface of education management, teaching, research and pastoral care • Evidence-based practice requires a practitioner to make decisions based on the current best available evidence after careful appraisal of sources • Literature on course leadership is limited, let alone on how course leaders do their job. Literature on courseleadership in small-specialist HEI is non-existent. van Veggel & Howlett (2018)
  • 3. How am I doing this? • Interviewing course leaders in my own institution and two other similar small specialist UK HEIs • Interviews • Recorded • Face-to-face (own institution), ? telephone (external institutions)
  • 4. Justifying my methodology. Why GT? • No theory currently exists that could explain phenomena in my field • GT allows emergence of a theory from data without relying on an existing theory (Engward, 2013) • Leadership is a social influence process (Parry, 1998) • Classic/Glaserian GT aims to discover a basic social process (Levers, 2013) • Post-positivist paradigm lends itself to researching complex social phenomena whilst maintaining objectivity and rigour (Kennedy & Lingard, 2006) • GT is an appropriate methodology for leadership research (Toor & Ofori, 2008) also for EBP and for education experience research. • Course leaders are best placed to inform research about course leaders (Scott & Scott, 2015) • Rigour and transparency and systematic nature of GT fit with my personal research and evidence-based practice beliefs
  • 5. Justifying my stance • In order to accurately generate theory from observations, it is important to be as objective as possible  there is an objective truth • Theory emerges from data through GT process (Glaser, 1978) and can explain reality. However, no theory is perfect. • However, some bias through beliefs and values is unavoidable. Important to recognise it  reflexivity is essential Epistemology Ontology Axiology
  • 7. Grounded Theory paradigms Grounded Theory* Glaser & Strauss Charmaz Corbin & Strauss InterpretivistConstructionistPost-positivist *As argued by Levers (2013)
  • 9. Does it really matter? • Maybe, maybe not… • Glaser says it doesn’t, GT is just a method (Glaser, 1998:35) • Urquhart (2013:60) agrees and says GT can be used in either positivist or interpretivist paradigms However… • Doctoral requirements say it does.
  • 10. “Shortcomings” • GT does not nicely fit in the thesis “box” • Change the shape of the box, not the content! • The compromised research proposal (Xie, 2009) • Not knowing exact details is ok • No subject specific literature review is ok (Glaser, 1998:72) • Is the theory really grounded? Trustworthy? • Interviews?
  • 11. Trustworthiness in GT research • Dimensions of trustworthiness and how to address them 1. Credibility Triangulation of data, sharing theory for conformation 2. Transferability Clear research description (Brown et al., 2002), using an audit trail (Bowen, 2009) 3. Dependability Use an audit trial (Morrow, 2005; Bowen, 2009) 4. Confirmability Examination of audit trial (Brown et al., 2002)
  • 12. Rigour in GT • Techniques for enhancing rigour in Straussian GT have been proposed (Cooney, 2011) • Cross-checking emerging concepts against participants’ meanings • Asking experts if the theory ‘fit’ their experiences • Recording detailed memos outlining all analytical and sampling decisions. • Unsure as to how these apply to classic GT • Glaser says GT doesn’t need these techniques as rigour is “built- in” • Compatible with modern standards for research? Or with doctoral requirements? • Urquhart (2013:60, 70) has guidance
  • 13. Acknowledgements This work is part-funded through a Writtle University College Learning and Development Fund Grant
  • 15. References • Bowen, G.A. (2009) "Supporting a Grounded Theory with an Audit Trail: An Illustration," International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 12, 4, 305 - 316. • Brown, S.C., Richard a. Stevens, J., Troiano, P.F., and Schneider, M.K. (2002) "Exploring Complex Phenomenon: Grounded Theory in Student Affairs Research," Journal of College Student Development, 43, 2, 1 - 11. • Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. • Cooney A. (2011) Rigour and grounded theory. Nurse Researcher 18, 4, 17–22. • Corbin, J. M., & Strauss, A. L. (2008). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (3rd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. • Gasson S (2004) Rigor in grounded theory research: An interpretive perspective on generating theory from qualitative field studies. In: Whitman ME and Woszczynski AB (eds), The handbook of information systems research, London: Idea Group Publishing, pp. 79–102. • Glaser, B. G. (1998) Doing grounded theory: issues and discussions. Mill Valley: Sociology Press. • Glaser, B., and Strauss, A.L. (1967) The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company. • Kennedy T.J.T. and Lingard L.A. (2006) Making sense of grounded theory in medical education. Medical Education 40, 2, 101–108. • Levers M-J.D. (2013) Philosophical paradigms, grounded theory, and perspectives on emergence. Sage Open 3,4. DOI: 10.1177/2158244013517243. • Morrow, S.L. (2005) Quality and Trustworthiness in Qualitative Research in Counselling Psychology, Journal of Counselling Psychology, 25, 2, 250 - 260. • Urquhart, C. (2013) Grounded Theory for Qualitative Research: a practical guide. London: Sage Publications. • van Veggel, N. and Howlett, P. (2018) Course leadership in small-specialist UK higher education - a review. International Journal of Educational Management, 32, 7, 1174–1183. • Xie S.L. (2009) Striking a Balance between Program Requirements and GT Principles: Writing a compromised GT proposal. The Grounded Theory Review 8, 2, 35–48.