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Chapter 10

Qualitative Research

McGraw-Hill

2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

What is Qualitative Research?

Many researchers are more interested in the quality of a particular activity than in how often it occurs or how it would otherwise be evaluated. Research studies that investigate the quality of relationships, activities, situations, or materials are frequently referred to as Qualitative Research. There is a greater emphasis on holistic description.

McGraw-Hill

2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

General Characteristics of Qualitative Research

Bogdan and Biklen (1998) describe five general features of Qualitative Research:
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2)

3) 4)

5)

The natural setting is a direct source of data and the researcher is the key instrument. Collection is in the form of words or pictures rather than numbers. Researchers are concerned with how things occur. Construction of a picture while data is being collected (inductive). Special interest in the participants thoughts.

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2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Comparison between Quantitative and Qualitative Research

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2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Steps in Qualitative Research

All qualitative studies have a distinct starting and ending point. They begin when the researcher identifies the phenomenon and ends when a final conclusion is made. The steps are as follows:

Identification of the phenomenon to be studied (foreshadowed problems) Identification of the participants in the study (purposive sample collecting) Generation of hypotheses Data collection (continual observance) Data analysis Interpretation/Conclusions

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2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Approaches to Qualitative Research

The following are approaches to qualitative research: Biographical Study- study of a single individual and his/her experiences as told to the researcher or found in documents and archival material. Phenomenological Study- investigate various reactions to or perceptions of a particular phenomenon. Grounded Theory Study generate a theory that is grounded in data systematically gathered and analyzed. The theory is formed inductively from the data that collected during the study itself. Case Study study the cases (object of the research) Ethnography study of culture Historical Research- study the past.

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2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Sampling in Qualitative Research

Involve purposive sample, which select a sample the researcher feel will yield the best understanding of what they are studying.

Typical sample one that is considered or judged to be typical or representative of that which is being studied, e.g. a class of elementary school pupils selected because they are judged to be typical third graders. Critical sample - one that is considered to be particularly enlightening because it is so unusual or exceptional, e.g. individual who have attained high achievement despite some serious physical limitations. Homogenous sample one in which all of the members posses a certain characteristic, e.g. a group of high school students all judged to posses exceptional artistic talent.

McGraw-Hill

2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Sampling in Qualitative Research

Theoretical sample one that helps the researcher to understand a concept or theory, e.g. selecting a group of tribal elders to assess the relevance of Piagetian theory to the education of Native Americans. Snowball sample one selected as need arises during the conduct of a study, e.g. during the interviewing of a group of principals, they recommend others who also should be interviewed because they are particularly knowledgeable about the subject of the research. Opportunistic sample one chosen during a study to take advantage of new conditions or circumstances that have arisen, e.g. eyewitnesses to a fracas (noisy argument or fight) at a high school football game.

McGraw-Hill

2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Sampling in Qualitative Research


Confirming sample one that is obtained to validate or disconfirm preliminary findings, e.g. follow-up interviews with students in order to verify reasons some students drop out. Maximal variation sample one selected to represent a diversity of perspectives or characteristics, e.g. a group of students who posses a wide variety attitudes toward recent school policies.

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2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Generalization in Qualitative Research

A generalization is usually thought of as a statement or claim that applies to more than one individual, group, or situation. The value of a generalization is that it allows us to have expectations or predictions about the future. A limitation of qualitative research is that there is seldom methodological justification for generalizing the findings of a particular study. In quantitative research, researchers generalize from the sample under investigation to the population of interest. However, in qualitative research, any generalizing is done by interested practitioners (individuals who are in situations similar to the one(s) investigated by the researcher).

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2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Generalization in Qualitative Research

It is the practitioner, rather than the researcher, who judges the applicability of the reseachers findings and conclusions, who determines whether researchers findings fit his or her situation. The researcher might say something like this: This is what I did and this is what I think it means. Does it have any bearing on your situation? If it does and if your situation is troublesome or problematic, how did it get that way and what can be done to improve it?

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2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Ethics and Qualitative Research

Ethical concerns affect qualitative research as do other forms of studies. The following are important to repeat:

Identities of participants should be protected. Participants should always be treated with respect. Researchers should do their best to ensure that no physical or psychological harm will come to anyone who participates in the study.

McGraw-Hill

2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.