Conducting and Analyzing Qualitative Research
The purpose of this 30-hour (6 Saturday sessions) course is to provide
participants with a thorough theoretical and practical knowledge of
qualitative research, its conduct, analysis, and reporting in the
Two philosophical paradigms in research methodology today rely on
quite different designs in their quests for "reality" or "truth;"
these are the positivistic (using quantitative, or statistical methods
with a pre-established research design, and depending primarily upon
deductive reasoning) and the naturalistic or ethnographic (using qualitative
methods with an emergent research design and depending primarily upon
Qualitative research does not formulate a priori hypotheses to be
tested, but seeks to establish what is known as "grounded theory"
(Glaser & Strauss, 1967). This method of developing concepts,
establishing "linkages" and thereby creating an understanding of roles
in the environment aims to explicate the central phenomena by relating
diverse concepts in order to account for complex relationships, and
to define the multiple realities within the research setting (see
also Denzin & Lincoln, 1994).
As a result, qualitative research provides us with a way of developing
an interpretive understanding of a culture such as those found within
a particular classroom or an entire educational institution. Where
quantitative studies will investigate, for example, the correlation
between student study time and test scores or patterns of enrollment,
a qualitative study will bring to light otherwise uninvestigated facets
of the culture (of the institution or student body), revealing aspects
of it which have considerable bearing on what should be researched
in depth. For instance, we may discover that students' attitudes towards
school and studying, as evidenced in their sets of thoughts, beliefs,
customs, artifacts, and patterns of behavior, are far more pertinent
to the development of an educational institution's policies than are
In Qualitative Research, it is the Metaphysical and Ethical truths
which most interest us, as they are the most resistant to traditional
positivistic research. We seek ways of understanding negotiated meanings
in human relationships, just as we seek to understand humanity. Thus,
a new kind of systematic set of beliefs and methods have developed
that help define the researcher's perspective in the gathering of
such research data; this set of beliefs is what makes up the paradigm
of "Naturalistic Inquiry," using qualitative research tools as its
sources of information gathering.
Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y., Eds. (1994). Handbook of Qualitative
Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Glaser, B. & Strauss, A. (1967) The Discovery of grounded theory:
Strategies for qualitative research. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
Glesne, C. and Peshkin, A. (1992). Becoming Qualitative Researchers.
White Plains: Longman.
Lincoln, Y. & Guba, E. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry. Beverly Hills:
Marshall, C. & Rossman, G. (1989). Designing qualitative research.
Beverly Hills: Sage Publishers.
Miles, M. & Huberman, A. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis Second
Edition. Beverly Hill: Sage.
Schatzman, L. & Strauss, A. (1973). Field research. New York:
Spradley, J. (1979). The ethnographic interview. New York: Holt, Rinehart,
Strauss, A. (1987). Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists. New
York: Cambridge University Press.
Review of Research Methodologies & the
Truths They Reveal
- A priori research design 1. Emergent
- Statistical analysis of 2. Coding, pattern-development,
- quantifiable data categorization of narrative
- Its purpose is to test theory 3. Its
purpose is to discover theory etc.
Empirical truth: An hypothesis
or predicate that affirms or denies something consistent with Nature.
Logical truth An or claim logically or mathematically contingent
upon another claim already known.
Ethical truth A claim consistent with moral or professional standards
Metaphysical truth A basic belief accepted at face value that cannot
be tested for truthfulness...
General Procedures to do Qualitative Research
- The research question
- Site selection and entry
- A word on ethics, confidentiality, and
- Research participants as informants
- Data Collection Techniques: observation,
listening, interviews, focus groups, psychological strategies,
life histories, street ethnographies, historical research, kinesics,
- Field Notes
- A word on trustworthiness of data Credibility,
Consistency, Neutrality, and Transferability
A Day in the Field
The participants and instructor will spend the session in a variety
of settings, implementing all of the data-gathering techniques referred
to last session.
Data Handling: Beginning to Understand What You've Got
- Coding A procedure which may facilitate
this task may be found in the Chromacode data analysis system,
demonstrated and experimented with here.
- Constant Comparisons
- Theory Discovery
Reporting Qualitative Research
Case studies and stories. Contextualized analyses of particular
anecdotes, quotes, and incidents. Demonstrations and experimentation
with case reporting using participants' research studies.
Alternative Reporting Methods
These include qualitative models, (See our course specifically designed
on "Designing Qualitative Models") narrated video presentations,
multimedia or hypertext and hot-link (non-linear) computer programs,
demonstrated and experimented with here. Other modes of reporting
using audio, performance, reader's theatre, artistic and participatory
modes will also be discussed.