THE SCOPE AND NATURE OF QUALITATIVE RESEARCH SFR780 GOODWIN
TWO CULTURES OF RESEARCH*
Natural Science Research
Individuals and relations
Properties or attributes of objects
Development is of interest to the
Objects normally are not assumed to
change during course of study
Intensive study of small number of
Objects/individuals studied in natural
Study many specimens, sample from a
population. Goal is to make valid
generalizations from sample data to
Objects studied in an artificial situation,
Explanations based on cause and effect
relations, fetch explanation from the past
for the state of things.
Object has no will
of its own
Mainly study quantities
Understanding is the goal. Explanations,
if any, are usually in terms of intentions,
Mainly study of qualities
*Snow, C. P. (1959). The Two Cultures and the Scientific
Revolution. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Qualitative Research in Education generally includes
approaches to inquiry that depend on:
elaborated and developed accounts of our experiences with others,
our thoughts and total understanding about our experience during the research process, and
what we feel in our hearts.
What is happening and why?
In other words, what we experience inside and out when
learning more or gaining a deeper understanding becomes
a central part of the research process.
(the above, all in relation to some topic of interest,
phenomenon, or object of study)
Subjectivity in the participants and in the researcher is taken seriously.
It’s takes the meaning of experience seriously into account as part of the understanding.
QUALITATIVE DATA SOURCES
Observation: as participant; as non-participant
Interviews: structured; semi-structured; unstructured (open)
field notes (rich, thick description; reflection, memos; beginning of analysis) Own research journal work, like field notes, but perhaps more autobiographical Audio and video recording
Note taking vs. audio or video recording (transcription)
Guidelines: listen, focus, wait, be open-ended, follow-up, empathysympathy for other’s perspective. With children: also use their words and phrasings.
Interviewing for information and interviewing for feeling.
Group interviews: focus groups (facilitation)
Email and other digital forms
Records and documents: Archival data; journals; maps; artifacts.
VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY OF QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
Trustworthiness: credibility (account for complexity, detailed case examples); transferability (detail context, data representation); dependability (consistency/stability of data); confirmability (reflexivity; triangulation). Descriptive: accuracy
Interpretive: accurate portrayal of participant perspective
Theoretical: how the research relates to the bigger picture
Evaluative: is the researcher bias clear, articulated
Consistency in data collection; methodology (e.g., interview/observation methods)
Relevance to case
Qualitative research in education includes:
field research in communities, schools, and
case study research (e.g., local culture, individual
community, single institution, local school, single
classroom, a group, an individual)
ethnography (cultural study)
document and content analysis, including historical
interview and observational research
Narrative, life history, and biographical studies
Other names for qualitative research
descriptive or narrative
Qualitative research may relate to theoretical concerns, such as
nature of self
have fun – involves interaction, connection
work diligently – to get it right
are sustained by search for authenticity, search for deeper meaning, understanding, truth
also may experience some uncertainty since the inquiry is likely to be at least somewhat open-ended
experience satisfying insight just as in measurement
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