Qualitative ResearchThe Nature of Qualitative Research
What is Qualitative Research? Lincoln and Guba Strauss and Corbin (1990) any kind of research that (1985)—a proper produces findings that are impression…can be not arrived at by means of statistical procedures or other gleaned only as an means of quantification overall perspective (p.17) (p.8) Qualitative research is an Wolcott (1992)– is investigation arising out of a not a field of need the researcher to explore meaning within and study…no clearly give meaning to the topic of specified set of study. activities (p.4)
What is qualitative research? Study of contexts Study of words rather than numbers Study of social situations Comparison of qualitative and quantitative methodologies …but the two can be used together!
Characteristics Naturalistic settings Rich description Process orientation Construction of meaning Inductive processes Reflexivity
Characteristics of Qualitative Research Features Naturalistic Data collected on the premise Researcher’s insight is the key instrument for analysis Concerned with context.
Descriptive Data Data taken take the shape of words and pictures not numbers Written results contain quotations from the data to illustrate and substantiate the presentation Data may be interview transcripts, fieldnotes, photos, videos, documents, memos, records. Nothing can be taken for granted
Concern with Process Concern is with process not just outcomes or products How do people negotiate meaning? How do certain terms and labels come to be applied?
Inductive Researchers do not research out data or evidence to prove or disprove hypotheses they hold before entering the study; rather, the abstractions are built as the particulars that have been gathered are grouped together.
Meaning Meaning is essential Concern is with particular perspectives and capturing those accurately
History of Qualitative Research Anthropologist and sociologists have collected information from the field for many years.
History - ancient Cro Magnon man (25000 BC!) Mayans (1500 BC) Biblical references Marco Polo Cortez
History – 20th century Margaret Mead The Chicago School Park, Thomas, others Thus, the roots of qualitative research are found primarily in anthropology and sociology, although certainly other disciplines had influence as well.
The Chicago School 1920’s and 30’s Sociology Dept. at University of Chicago Moved personal observations to the forefront Gave voice to points of view of people marginalized in society.
The Sociology of Education 1932, Sociology of Teaching (Waller) Relied on in-depth interview, life histories, participant observation, case records, diaries, letters, and other personal documents to describe the social world of teachers and their students.
European Connections and the SocialSurvey Movement During 1800’s, Frenchman, Frederick LePlay studied working class people through participant observation (called it observation) [lived with the families studied; participated in lives; observed what they did at work, at play, at church and in school] They described in detail the life of the working-class family in Europe.
Mayhew (1851- Beatrice Webb and her husband published the 1862) London first discussion of Labor and the method in qualitative London Poor (four research (1932) volumes) W.E.B DuBois– first social Described through survey in the US. Published reports and (1899) The Philadelphia Negro—year and half of close anecdotes study, including interviews conditions of the and observations;-- the condition of 40,000 or more workers and the people of Negro blood who unemployed lived in Philadelphia.
The social upheaval of the sixties indicated that we did not know enough about how students experienced school Qualitative methods gained popularity because of their recognition of the views of the powerless and the excluded– those of the “outside”
Why is it important? Unexplored topic Multifaceted context Developing a theory Perceptions & interpretations of lives Study of phenomena It allows the researcher to answer questions and achieve your purpose
Limitations Time consuming Large amounts of data No “hard” data No standardized methods No cause & effect
Questions to Ponder Are qualitative findings generalizable? What about the researcher’s opinions, prejudices, and other biases and their effect on the data? Doesn’t the presence of the researcher change the behavior of the people he or she is trying to study?
Will two researchers independently studying the same setting or subjects come up with the same findings? How does qualitative research differ from what other people such as teachers, reporters or artists do? Can qualitative and quantitative approaches be used together? Is qualitative research really scientific? What is the goal of qualitative research? How does qualitative differ from quantitative research? Which research approach is better, qualitative or quantitative?