Qualitative Analysis and Process | Qualitative Research | Focus Group

1 William Molnar

Week 5 Assignment by William Molnar

Assignments

Locate and read an article in a peer-reviewed journal in your discipline that utilizes a qualitative method to address a research question. (The discussion of qualitative methods and approaches in the Trochim textbook should be helpful for recognizing the sort of method used in the article.) Please organize your paper with each of the following sections clearly numbered. 1. Give the bibliographic citation for the article in APA style. Blase, J.J. (1986). A qualitative analysis of sources of teacher stress: Consequences for performance. American Educational Research Journal, 23(1), 13-40. 2. Provide a brief summary of the research question (i.e., purpose of the study). The purpose of this study was to use qualitative research methods to investigate a teacher’s perception of work-related stress. This study was designed to focus on the general question, “What do teachers mean when they identify work-related factors as sources of stress” (p 14)? Blase wanted to discover a link between teacher stress and teacher performance. 3. Describe the author’s (probable) rationale for using qualitative methods in the study. The author chose qualitative methods in this study because he wanted to “use an open-ended instrument to collect detailed qualitative data reflecting teachers’ perceptions of stress” (p 14). The author felt that in qualitative research, a personal document that addresses subjective perceptions is useful and when controlled by the participant, it becomes a personal document. A personal document is a record that produces information about the participant. The questionnaire, which was also used in this study, is considered a personal document because the participant controlled the wording of their writing.

4. Describe the data collection and analysis procedures. (NOTE: This question has two parts.)
For the data collection the Teacher Stress Inventory (TSI) was designed which was designed to “collect interpretive data from teachers in a way that encouraged ‘free expression’ of personal meanings associated with work stress” (p 14). The TSI was an open-ended instrument invented by Blase and was used to collect qualitative detail and data that reflected teachers’ perceptions of stress. Blase applied various versions of the instrument to different samples of 392 elementary,

2 William Molnar
middle, junior, and high school teachers attending selected colleges located across the United States. Each version of the TSI was designed to reflect categories and themes analyzed from the data collected from previous administrations of this instrument. “As categories and themes were established, the TSI was modified to reflect the most important patterns in the data” (p 14). On the TSI, teachers were told to provide three factors they considered to be the most important stress-related activities which Blase referred to as work stressors. The analysis procedure was as followed: The first TSI was analyzed by a teachers’ committee of 5. Within the first TSI, the teachers were asked to identify, describe, and illustrate the meanings of three major job-related stressors. This first TSI was administered to 63 teachers. The second questionnaire was a reflection of the categories that were identified in the initial questionnaire. In the second questionnaire, teachers were also asked to “describe feelings and coping strategies used to deal with stress” (p 15). Data from the second questionnaire was analyzed by the author and a committee of experts which consisted of four professors, three doctoral students, and the original group of five teachers. In addition, “the data were collected and analyzed according to qualitative guidelines developed by Bogdan and Taylor (1975), Bogdan and Bikle (1982), Lofland (1971), and Smith and Keith (1971) and according to specific guidelines for grounded-theory research and constant-comparative analysis offered by Glaser and Strauss (1967) and Glaser (1978)” (p 16). The data was generated and examined through an inductive process. From SBSF 8417, one knows what inductive process is. It is the process where one looks from the bottom-up and begins with specific observations and concludes with a general theory. 5. Did the qualitative researcher also use any quantitative methods, including unobtrusive ones? (Unobtrusive methods are explained in the Trochim textbook.) Explain your answer. Comment on both quantitative methods and unobtrusive methods. Blase did use quantitative methods but none were unobtrusive. The data collected on the TSI were coded according to the consistent comparing of data analysis. The process of coding the data is a quantitative process. “This analytic procedure contrasts with quantitative methods of content analysis, in which coding categories, although developed from the literature or from trial analysis of the content are determined prior to data analysis” (p 17). In addition, certain notations identified on the completed questionnaire page represent codes related to stress themes.

Blase also states that another factor that was commonly reported was salary. This factor war rarely identified throughout the procedure. The differences of quantitative (close-ended) and qualitiative (open-ended) research may play a role in this identification. 6. Was the research purpose of the study achieved? (In other words, was the research question answered or partially answered? See item 2 above.) Explain your answer. The research purpose of the study was achieved. As stated above, the purpose of this study was to “investigate, using qualitative research methods, teachers’ perceptions of factor related to work stress. The study was designed to focus on the general question, what do teachers mean when they identify work-related factors as sources of stress” (p 14)? The researcher discussed various categories within the research that were studied along with the results of each category. For example, Blase studied the effects of various student behaviors on teacher stress. The use of the TSI employed to collect data for this study was modified to reflect the general properties of all stress categories that emerged from early analyses of the data.

3 William Molnar
Certain themes were also discussed and examined by Blase, themes such as problems with time, interference with instruction, and overload. These were discovered not only among subcategories identified with student behavior but also among most other stress categories. Other areas of study that were achieved were the areas of control of time, quantitative and qualitative overdemand, undermining effective instruction of students and detracting from general performance effectiveness, threatening to self, change, and negative feeling states. 7. State briefly what the author found. The author found that “organizational, student, administrative, and teacher-related factors were most frequently related to teacher stress and constituted 83.1% of the responses” (p 33). Blase also found that stress was caused by job-related factors because these factors were interfering with time resources and overloading teachers quantitatively and qualitatively. Blase also found that stress was linked to strong negative feelings in teachers. It was also discovered that the impact of stress, made satisfactory goal achievement with students difficult or impossible. Blase’s study points out a need for an organizational perspective on schools and that those committed to improving schools need to focus more attention on the complex nature of the organizational aspects of schools that prevent productive teaching and learning. Analysis of the data also indicated that many stress categories were related to overriding themes associated with teacher performance. Blase created the Performance Adaption Syndrome (PAS) which was to reflect on these findings. Data analysis was preceded inductively from the concrete to the abstract. Because there were numerous stress categories and themes, ideas developed from the data. A deductive procedure was designed to refine the previous analysis. “The aim was to provide frequency data regarding some of the major findings. Deductive procedures in the service of inductive work can be useful in achieving qualitative research goals” (p 22).

8. Can you identify any questionable assumptions or biases in the author’s approach or conclusions? Explain briefly. I do not believe that the author’s approach had any questionable assumptions or biases. Although he already believed, even 23 years ago at the time of this experiment, that teachers suffered enormous stress loads just as we do today. Blase did not enter into this experiment with any biases. I feel this way because the research methods he employed allowed teachers the ability to explain stress from their perspective. If he allowed them to explain stress from their perspective, then, he must have already believed that teachers were suffering from stress. In this experiment, he was allowing the teachers the opportunity to speak on their behalf.

9. Do you think that another type of qualitative or quantitative method could have worked better in addressing the research question? Explain your answer. Compare the method(s) used with at least one method that was not used in the study. An in-depth interview is another method that may have improved the author’s results. In fact, a group interview could have worked within this experiment. In addition, the data could have been recorded using audio recording. I think this might have worked better because as a group indepth interview, one would have had other teachers to help encourage questions and answers

4 William Molnar
that the interviewer may not have thought of in his initial questionnaire. The in-depth interview could have gone deeper than the questionnaire method that Blase chose to use. Another method not used in this study that might have been considered is a case study. Blase could have chosen a sample of teachers to use to complete a case study on teacher stress and compared the results of the samples. The case study could use a combination of methods such as unstructured interviewing and direct observation. A third method that could have been possibly used is a focus group. In a focus group, it would have enabled the researcher to obtain detailed information of selected groups of participants. The focus group could be used to generate as many ideas on a topic as possible and achieve consensus in a group. The focus group could also be used as the first stage in the development of a survey. 10. What is your overall evaluation of the study? What are the weak areas? What are the strong areas? (This is where you get to give your own opinion. Focus on the quality of the research.) I feel that the evaluation was a very good study. The author discussed in detail various responsibilities a teacher has in addition to teaching and how it interferes with their primary goalto teach. The researcher showed how the administration feels that there are other duties that are more important than just teaching. He also points out how teachers compromise their teaching in order to complete these other tasks such as giving students “busy work” in order to free themselves up to complete the other paper work that is required of them. The author wanted to show factors that were related to stress. The use of a questionnaire was a quick and easy way of performing the research because it can be disseminated to all the teachers at once. Using other methods such as the ones mentioned above (in-depth interview, and focus group) though possible to use, would have worked, but would have taken more time. Meetings would have to be scheduled, responses would have to be written down, and answers would have to be transcribed before the data can be analyzed. As far as the strong area of this study goes, it employed highly structured survey instruments which may excessively control the research subject’s responses so that they do not accurately reflect the subject’s perceptions of a given phenomenon. A protocol was developed to describe the categories to be coded. Each stress factor described was scrutinized in terms of themes. Given the size of the unit analyzed, appearance of a theme was counted as one, regardless of how frequently it occurred on a page. This method is considered to have high reliability. This is another example of a strong area of the study. As a weak area, I found within this study the analysis of teacher stress revealing the problematic nature of time and the wide range of individual stressors associated with time. Stressors were perceived to interfere with time intended for instructional activities. In contrast to other research, the present data emphasize that time cannot be understood as independent of other sources of stress. In addition, the author did not study the results of the effects of the teacher stress on students. I think the author should have done his experiment in schools within various school districts using a higher mean than 10 years, the mean used in this experiment. Blase may find that the higher the mean, the higher the stress factor becomes as a result of burn-out. On the contrary, if Blase was to conduct this experiment with a mean of 5, his results would probably be higher because he would be dealing with more energetic and creative and open minds because these are teachers that are fresh with new ideas straight out of college.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful