HASHIMAH MOHD. YUNUS School Of Educational Studies Universiti Sains Malaysia myshima@usm.my

Some Definitions
An inquiry process of understanding a social or human problem based on building a complex, holistic picture formed with words reporting detailed views of informants and conducted in a natural setting. Cresswell (1994)

“Any kind of research that produces findings not arrived at by means of Statistical procedures or other means of quantification." (Strauss & Corbin, 1990)

Basis for the Use of a Qualitative Methodology
Strauss and Corbin (1990) claim that qualitative methods can be used to: • better understand any phenomenon about which little is yet known. • gain new perspectives on things about which much is already known, or to gain more in-depth information that may be difficult to convey quantitatively.


An Interactive Model of Research Design Source Maxwell,J.A (1996)


Conceptual Context

Research Questions



Contextual factors influencing research design
Perceived problems Personal and political goals Personal experience Existing theory


Conceptual Context
Prior &pilot research

Participant concerns


Research Questions

Thought experiments

Ethical standard

Data and conclusion




Personal styles

Research skills

Research paradigm

Characteristics/Features of Qualitative Research • • • • • • An exploratory and Descriptive focus Emergent Design Data Collection in the natural setting Emphasis on ‘human-as-instrument’ Qualitative methods of data collection Early and On-going inductive analysis

Cresswell (1994) divides qualitative research into five major traditions :

• The Biography • Phenomenology • Grounded Theory • Ethnography • Case Study

Qualitative Research Design
Qualitative Research Designs


The collection of extensive narrative data over an extended period of time in natural settings to gain insights about other types of research. •Data are collected through observations at particular points of time over a sustained period. •Data include observations, records and interpretations of what is seen. An in-depth study of an individual group, institution, organization or program. Data include interviews, field notes of observations, archival data and biographical data.

Case Studies

grounded theory

the researcher generates an abstract analytical schema of a phenomenon, a theory that explains some action, interaction, or process. This analysis occurs primarily through collecting interview data, making multiple visits to the field (theoretical sampling), attempting to develop and interrelate categories of information via constant comparison, and writing a substantive or context-specific theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). A study of the shared meaning of experience of a phenomenon for several individuals. “The understanding of meaningful concrete relations implicit in the original description of experience in the context of a particular situation is the primary target of phenomenological knowledge” (Moustakas, 1994, p. 14). The researcher reduces data gathered as lengthy interviews describing the shared experiences of several informants to a central meaning, or “essence” of the experience. A study of a single individual and his or her experiences as told to the researcher or as found in the documents and archival materials (Denzin, 1989). Broadly include biographies, autobiographies, life histories, and oral histories. The researcher investigates the life of one individual, often collecting data primarily through interviews and documents of many types (e.g., diaries, family histories,



Qualitative inquiry is for the researcher who is willing to do the following:

1. Commit to extensive time in the field -engage in the complex, time - consuming process of data analysis – the ambitious task of sorting through large amounts of data and reducing them to a few themes or categories.

2. Write long passages, because the evidence must substantiate claims and the writer needs to show multiple perspectives 3. Participate in a form of social and human science research that does not have firm guidelines or specific procedures and is evolving and changing constantly.

• the nature of the research question: often starts with a how or a what so that initial forays into the topic describe what is going on. • the topic needs to be explored. • the need to present a detailed view of the topic • to study individuals in their natural setting. • interest in writing in a literary style; the writer brings himself or herself into the study • select a qualitative approach because audiences are receptive to qualitative research. • emphasize the researcher's role as an active learner who can tell the story from the participants' view rather than as an "expert" who passes judgment on participants.

The Role of the Researcher in Qualitative Inquiry
Before conducting a qualitative study, a researcher must do three things. 2. (s)he must adopt the characteristics of the naturalist paradigm. 3. must develop the level of skill appropriate for a human instrument, or the vehicle through which data will be collected and interpreted. 4. prepare a research design that utilizes accepted strategies for naturalistic inquiry (Lincoln and Guba, 1985).

"theoretical sensitivity”
• refers to a personal quality of the researcher. It indicates an awareness of the subtleties of meaning of data. …[It] refers to the attribute of having insight, the ability to give meaning to data, the capacity to understand, and capability to separate the pertinent from that which isn’t (Strauss and Corbin, 1990, p. 42).

Research Design and Data Collection Strategies
1. Determine a focus for the inquiry. This should establish a boundary for the study, and provide inclusion/exclusion criteria for new information. Boundaries, however, can be altered, and typically are.

2. Determine the fit of the research paradigm to the research focus. The researcher must compare the characteristics of the qualitative paradigm with the goals of the research. 3. Determine where and from whom data will be collected. 4. Determine what the successive phases of the inquiry will be. Phase one, for example, might feature open-ended data collection, while successive phases will be more focused.

Research Design and Data Collection Strategies
5. Determine what additional instrumentation may be used, beyond the researcher as the human instrument. 6. Plan data collection and recording modes. This must include how detailed and specific research questions will be, and how faithfully data will be reproduced. 7. Plan which data analysis procedures will be used. 8. Plan the logistics of data collection, including scheduling and budgeting. 9. Plan the techniques that will be used to determine trustworthiness.

Sampling Strategies for Qualitative Researchers
purposeful sampling is the dominant strategy in qualitative research. Purposeful sampling seeks information-rich cases which can be studied in depth (Patton, 1990).

Sampling Strategy Site Selection Comprehensive sampling Maximum variation sampling

Description Select site where specific events are expected to occur Choose entire group by criteria Select to obtain maximum differences of perceptions about a topic among information-rich informants or group Each successive person or group is nominated by a prior person as appropriate for a profile or attribute

Network sampling Sampling by case type Extreme-case sampling Intense-case sampling Typical-case sampling Unique-case sampling Reputational-case sampling Critical-case sampling Concept/theory-based sampling Combination of purposeful sampling strategies

Choose extreme cases after knowing the typical or average case-e.g., outstanding successes, crisis events Select cases that are intense but not extreme illustrations Know the typical characteristics of a group and sample by cases Choose the unusual or rare case of some dimension or event Obtain the recommendation of knowledgeable experts for the best examples Identify the case that can illustrate some phenomenon dramatically Select by information-rich persons or situations known to experience the concept or to be attempting to implement the concept/theory Choose various sampling strategies as needed or desired for purposes, especially in large-scale studies and lengthy process studies

Data Collection Techniques
The two prevailing forms of data collection associated with qualitative inquiry are interviews and observation. Interviews • Qualitative interviews may be used either as the primary strategy for data collection, or in conjunction with observation, document analysis, or other techniques ( Bogdan and Biklen, 1982). • Qualitative interviewing utilizes open-ended questions that allow for individual variations. • Three types of qualitative interviewing: 1) informal, conversational interviews; 2) semi-structured interviews; and 3) standardized, open-ended interviews. Patton (1990 )

An interview guide or "schedule" is a list of questions or general topics that the interviewer wants to explore during each interview:

• prepared to insure that basically the same information is obtained from each person, there are no predetermined responses • interviewer is free to probe and explore within these predetermined inquiry areas. • ensure good use of limited interview time; they make interviewing multiple subjects more systematic and comprehensive; and they help to keep interactions focused. • can be modified over time to focus attention on areas of particular importance, or to exclude questions the researcher has found to be unproductive for the goals of the research (Lofland and Lofland, 1984)

Recording Data.
• written notes or a tape recorder – a matter of personal preference. • For instance, Patton says that a tape recorder is "indispensable" (1990, p. 348), while Lincoln and Guba "do not recommend recording except for unusual reasons" (1985, p. 241). - intrusiveness of recording devices / technical failure. -but can capture data more than written notes might, - can focus on the interview.

• observation of participants in the context of a natural scene. • for the purpose of description—of settings, activities, people, and the meanings of what is observed from the perspective of the participants. - Observation can lead to deeper understandings than interviews alone, because it provides a knowledge of the context in which events occur, and may enable the researcher to see things that participants themselves are not aware of, or that they are unwilling to discuss ( Patton, 1990). - A skilled observer is one who is trained in the process of monitoring both verbal and nonverbal cues, and in the use of concrete, unambiguous, descriptive language.

Several strategies of observation
• to watch from outside, without being observed. • maintain a passive presence, being as unobtrusive as possible and not interacting with participants. • to engage in limited interaction, intervening only when further clarification of actions is needed. • exercise more active control over the observation, as in the case of a formal interview, to elicit specific types of information. • act as a full participant in the situation, with either a hidden or known identity.

Each of these strategies has specific advantages, disadvantages and concerns which must be carefully examined by the researcher (Schatzman and Strauss, 1973). • In any case, the researcher must consider the legal and ethical responsibilities associated with naturalistic observation.

Recording Data
• researchers rely most heavily on the use of field notes, which are running descriptions of settings, people, activities, and sounds. Field notes may include drawings or maps. • Acknowledging the difficulty of writing extensive field notes during an observation, Lofland and Lofland (1984) recommend jotting down notes that will serve as a memory aid when full field notes are constructed. • This should happen as soon after observation as possible, preferably the same day. In addition to field notes, researchers may use photographs, videotapes, and audio tapes as means of accurately capturing a setting.

Tips for good data collection
• • • • • • • • • • • • When in doubt, refer to the research questions Pre-test the interview/focus group guide Revise the process or guide if it’s not working Talk to the right people (target audience and key stakeholders) Use trained interviewers/moderators Keep good notes, record when possible Make a summary right away Respect your audience Respect your research questions Follow-up on feedback Distribute promised reports Always reward the participants

More Tips
• • • • • • • • • Listen carefully Talk as little as possible Don’t validate or challenge experiences Come prepared to learn Be open to new ideas Don’t inform or instruct Respect time issues Plan in advance for as much as possible Tell their story - not the story that fits the agenda

Gaining Access and Researcher Obligations
• make use of contacts that can help remove barriers to entrance; • avoid wasting respondents’ time by doing advance research for information that is already part of the public record; • treat respondents with courtesy. • provide respondents with a straightforward description of the goals of the research

Other Sources of Data
analysis of documents. • official records, letters, newspaper accounts, diaries, and reports, as well as the published data used in a review of literature..

Deciding When to Stop Sampling

1) exhaustion of resources; 2) emergence of regularities; 3) overextension, or going too far beyond the boundaries of the research (Guba, 1978).
The decision to stop sampling must take into account the research goals, the need to achieve depth through triangulation of data sources, and the possibility of greater breadth through examination of a variety of sampling sites.

Analysis of Data
• Bogdan and Biklen define qualitative data analysis as "working with data, organizing it, breaking it into manageable units, synthesizing it, searching for patterns, discovering what is important and what is to be learned, and deciding what you will tell others" (1982, p. 145). • Qualitative researchers tend to use inductive analysis of data, meaning that the critical themes emerge out of the data (Patton, 1990).

• Qualitative analysis requires some creativity, for the challenge is to place the raw data into logical, meaningful categories; to examine them in a holistic fashion; and to find a way to communicate this interpretation to others.

Addressing Trustworthiness in Qualitative Research

• The basic question addressed by the notion of trustworthiness, according to Lincoln and Guba, is simple: "How can an inquirer persuade his or her audiences that the research findings of an inquiry are worth paying attention to?" (1985, p. 290).

Table 1 Comparison of criteria for judging the quality of quantitative versus qualitative research

Conventional terms internal validity external validity reliability objectivity

Naturalistic terms credibility transferability dependability confirmability

Strategies With Which to Establish Trustworthiness

Strategy Credibility                   Transferability      

Criteria Prolonged and varied field experience Time sampling Reflexivity (field journal) Triangulation Member checking Peer examination Interview technique Establishing authority of researcher Structural coherence Referential adequacy Nominated sample Comparison of sample to demographic data Time sample Dense description

Dependability           Confirmability    

Dependability audit Dense description of research methods Stepwise replication Triangulation Peer examination Code-recode procedure Confirmability audit Triangulation Reflexivity

Triangulation is the key to reliability • • • • • • Always have more than one researcher Always have more than one analyst Cross check information across sources Review documents Keep good records Ask for a completely "outside" perspective

Strategies to Enhance Design Validity
Strategy Prolonged and persistent field work Participant language; verbatim accounts Low-inference descriptors Multiple researchers Mechanically recorded data Participant researcher Member checking Description Allows interim data analysis and corroboration to ensure the match between findings and participant reality Obtain literal statements of participants and quotations from documents Record precise, almost literal, and detailed descriptions of people and situations Agreement on descriptive data collected by a research team Use of tape recorders, photographs and videotapes Use of participant recorded perceptions in diaries or anecdotal records for corroboration Check informally with participants for accuracy during data collection; frequently done in participant observation studies Ask each participant to review researcher's synthesis of all interviews with the person for accuracy of representation; frequently done in interview studies Actively search for, record, analyze, and report negative cases of discrepant data that are an exception to patterns or that modify patterns found in the data

Participant review Negative cases or discrepant data

Judging Qualitative Research
1. Coherence: Does the story make sense? How have the conclusions been supported? To what extent have multiple data sources been used to give credence to the interpretation that has been made? (p. 53).Related to coherence is the notion of "structural corroboration," also known as triangulation (p. 55). Consensus: The condition in which the readers of a work concur that the findings and/or interpretations reported by the investigator are consistent with their own experience or with the evidence presented (p. 56). Instrumental Utility: The most important test of any qualitative study is its usefulness. A good qualitative study can help us understand a situation that would otherwise be enigmatic or confusing (p. 58). A good study can help us anticipate the future, not in the predictive sense of the word, but as a kind of road map or guide. "Guides call our attention to aspects of the situation or place we might otherwise miss" (Eisner, 1991, p. 59).



The decision to use qualitative methodologies should be considered carefully; by its very nature, qualitative research can be emotionally taxing and extraordinarily time consuming. At the same time, it can yield rich information not obtainable through statistical sampling techniques.

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