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QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

A. The meaning of Qualitative research


Qualitative research is a process of inquiry aimed at understanding human
behavior by building complex, holistic pictures of the social and cultural settings in
which such behavior occurs. It does so by analyzing words rather than numbers, and
by reporting the detailed views of the people who have been studied. Such inquiry
conducted in settings where people naturally interact, as opposed to specially
designed laboratories or clinical /experimental settings. Qualitative research seeks to
understand the what, how, when, and where of an even or an action in order to
establish its meaning ,concepts, and definitions, characteristics, metaphors, symbols,
and descriptions (Angrosino, M.V. 2007:1)
This type of research differs from the methodologies discussed in earlier chapters
in that there is a greater emphasis on holistic descriptionthat is, on describing in
detail all of what goes on in a particular activity or situation rather than on comparing
the effects of a particular treatment (as in experimental research), say, or on describing
the attitudes or behaviors of people (as in survey research).
B. General Characteristics of Qualitative Research
Many different types of qualitative methodologies exist, but there are certain
general features that characterize most qualitative research studies. Not all qualitative
studies will necessarily display all of these characteristics with equal strength.
Nevertheless, taken together, they give a good overall picture of what is involved in
this type of research. Bogdan and Biklen describe five such features.
1. The natural setting is the direct source of data, and the researcher is the key
instrument in qualitative research.
Qualitative researchers go directly to the particular setting of interest to
observe and collect their data. They spend a considerable amount of time actually
being in a school, sitting in on faculty meetings, attending parent-teacher
association meetings, observing teachers in their classrooms and in other locales,
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and in general directly observing and interviewing individuals as they go about


their daily routines. Sometimes they come equipped only with a pad and a pencil
to take notes, but often they use sophisticated audio- and videotaping equipment.
Even when such equipment is used, however, the data are collected right at the
scene and supplemented by the researchers observations and insights about what
occurred. As Bogdan and Biklen point out, qualitative researchers go to the
particular setting of interest because they are concerned with contextthey feel
that activities can best be understood in the actual settings in which they occur.
They also feel that human behavior is vastly influenced by particular settings,
and, hence, whenever possible they visit such settings.
2. Qualitative data are collected in the form of words or pictures rather than
numbers.
The kinds of data collected in qualitative research include interview
transcripts, field notes, photographs, audio recordings, videotapes, diaries,
personal comments, memos, official records, textbook passages, and anything
else that can convey the actual words or actions of people. In their search for
understanding, qualitative researchers do not usually attempt to reduce their data
to numerical symbols, but rather seek to portray what they have observed and
recorded in all of its richness. Hence, they do their best not to ignore anything
that might lend insight to a situation. Gestures, jokes, conversational gambits,
artwork or other decorations in a roomall are noted by qualitative researchers.
To a qualitative researcher, no data are trivial or unworthy of notice.
3. Qualitative researchers are concerned with process as well as product.
Qualitative researchers are especially interested in how things occur. Hence,
they are likely to observe how people interact with each other; how certain kinds
of questions are answered; the meanings that people give to certain words and
actions; how peoples attitudes are translated into actions; how students seem to
be affected by a teachers manner, gestures, or comments; and the like.

4. Qualitative researchers tend to analyze their data inductively.


Qualitative researchers do not, usually, formulate a hypothesis beforehand and
then seek to test it out. Rather, they tend to play it as it goes. They spend a
considerable amount of time collecting their data (again, primarily through
observing and interviewing) before they decide what are the important questions
to consider. As Bogdan and Biklen suggest, qualitative researchers are not putting
together a puzzle whose picture they already know. They are constructing a
picture that takes shape as they collect and examine the parts.
5. How people make sense out of their lives is a major concern to qualitative
researchers.
A special interest of qualitative researchers lies in the perspectives of the
subjects of a study. Qualitative researchers want to know what the participants in
a study are thinking and why they think what they do. Assumptions, motives,
reasons, goals, and valuesall are of interest and likely to be the focus of the
researchers questions. It also is common for a researcher to show a completed
videotape or the contents of his or her notes to a participant to check on the
accuracy of the researchers interpretations. In other words, the researcher does
his or her best to capture the thinking of the participants from the participants
perspective (as opposed to the researcher merely reporting what he or she thinks)
as accurately as possible.

There are still many other characteristics of qualitative research. Merriam


(1988:19) mentions other characteristics associated with research assumptions
including process (rather than outcomes or product), concepts, theory, and hypothesis
from details), meaning (how people make sense of their lives, experiences, and their
structures of the world), human instrument (the researchers themselves are the
primary instrument of data collection), and fieldwork.

C. The Major Characteristics of Qualitative Research

1. Naturalistic inquiry

Studying real-world situations as they unfold


naturally;

nonmanipulative,

unobtrusive,

and

noncontrolling; openness to whatever emerges


lack of predetermined constraints on outcomes.
2. Inductive analysis
Immersion in the details and specifics of the data to
discover important categories, dimensions, and
interrelationships; begin by exploring genuinely
3. Holistic perspective

open questions rather than testing theoretically


derived (deductive) hypotheses.
The whole phenomenon under study is understood

4. Qualitative data

as a complex system that is more than the sum of


its parts; focus is on complex interdependencies not

5. Personal contact and


Insight

meaningfully reduced to a few discrete variables


and linear, cause-effect relationships.
Detailed, thick description; inquiry in depth; direct

6. Dynamic systems

quotations capturing peoples personal perspectives


and experiences.
The researcher has direct contact with and gets
close to the people, situation, and phenomenon

7. Unique case orientation

under study; researchers personal experiences and


insights are an important part of the inquiry and
critical to understanding the phenomenon.
Attention to process; assumes change is constant
and ongoing whether the focus is on an individual

8. Context sensitivity

or an entire culture.
Assumes each case is special and unique; the first
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level of inquiry is being true to, respecting, and


capturing the details of the individual cases being
9. Empathic neutrality

studied; cross-case analysis follows from and


depends on the quality of individual case studies.
Places findings in a social, historical, and temporal
context;

dubious

of

the

possibility

or

meaningfulness of generalizations across time and


space.
Complete

objectivity

is

impossible;

pure

subjectivity undermines credibility; the researchers


10. Design flexibility

passion is understanding the world in all its


complexitynot

proving

something,

not

advocating, not advancing personal agendas, but


understanding; the researcher includes personal
experience and empathic insight as part of the
relevant data, while taking a neutral nonjudgmental
stance toward whatever content may emerge.
Open to adapting inquiry as understanding deepens
and/or situations change; avoids getting locked into
rigid designs that eliminate responsiveness; pursues
new paths of discovery as they emerge.

D. Steps in Qualitative Research

Every qualitative study has a distinct starting and ending point, however. It begins
when the researcher identifies the phenomenon he or she wishes to study, and it ends
when the researcher draws his or her final conclusions.
Although the steps involved in qualitative research are not as distinct as they are
in quantitative studies (they arent even necessarily sequential), several steps can be
identified. Let us describe them briefly.
1. Identification of the phenomenon to be studied.
Before any study can begin, the researcher must identify the particular
phenomenon he or she is interested in investigating.
2. Identification of the participants in the study.
The participants in the study constitute the sample of individuals who will be
observed (interviewed, etc.) in other words, the subjects of the study.
3. Generation of hypotheses.
Unlike in most quantitative studies, hypotheses are not posed at the beginning of
the study by the researcher. Instead, they emerge from the data as the study
progresses. Some are almost immediately discarded; others are modified or
replaced. New ones are formulated. A typical qualitative study may begin with
few, if any, hypotheses being posed by the researcher at the start, but with several
being formulated, reconsidered, dropped, and modified as the study proceeds.
4. Generation of hypotheses.
The collection of data in a qualitative research study is ongoing. The researcher is
continually observing people, events, and occurrences, often supplementing his
or her observations with in-depth interviews of selected participants and the
examination of various documents and records relevant to the phenomenon of
interest.
5. Data analysis.
Analyzing the data in a qualitative study essentially involves analyzing and
synthesizing the information the researcher obtains from various sources (e.g.,
observations, interviews, documents) into a coherent description of what he or
she has observed or otherwise discovered. Data analysis in qualitative research,
however, relies heavily on description; even when certain statistics are calculated,
they tend to be used in a descriptive rather than an inferential sense.
6. Interpretations and conclusions.
In qualitative research, interpretations are made continuously throughout the
course of a study. Whereas quantitative researchers usually leave the drawing of

conclusions to the very end of their research, qualitative researchers tend to


formulate their interpretations as they go along. As a result, one finds the
researchers conclusions in a qualitative study more or less integrated with other
steps in the research process

CONCLUTION
Qualitative research is a process of inquiry aimed at understanding human
behavior by building complex, holistic pictures of the social and cultural settings in
which such behavior occurs. It does so by analyzing words rather than numbers, and
by reporting the detailed views of the people who have been studied. The researcher
will be easier to do inquiry if they understand what, how, when, and where of an even
or an action in their inquiry.
General Characteristics of Qualitative Research:
1. The natural setting is the direct source of data, and the researcher is the key
instrument in qualitative research.
2. Qualitative data are collected in the form of words or pictures rather than
numbers.
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3. Qualitative researchers are concerned with process as well as product.


4. Qualitative researchers tend to analyze their data inductively
5. How people make sense out of their lives is a major concern to qualitative
researchers.

REFERENCE
Fraenkel and wallen.2009. How to Design and Evaluate Research in Education. New
York:McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Latief, Mohammad Adnan.2012.Research Methods on Language an Introduction.
Malang: UM Press.
Dedeh, Okta. 2013. Perbedaan Data Kualitatif dan Data Kuantitatif.htm. Retrieved
on http://www. Perbedaan Data Kualitatif dan Data Kuantitatif.htm. Accessed
on February 28th, 2016.