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ADMS 4421 (1)

ADMS 4421 Qualitative Methods Textbook Notes

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Administrative Studies
ADMS 4421
Julia Richardson

ADMS 4421 Qualitative Methods – Notes Ch 1- What is Qualitative Research Research- inquiring into, or investigating something in a systematic manner Basic research- motivated by intellectual interest -primary purpose is to know more about a phenomenon Applied research- undertaken to improve the quality of practice of a particular discipline -the difference in evaluation and research is in the questions asked, not the methods used Evaluation research- collects data on the worth of a program, process or technique Acton research- has a goal to address a specific problem within a specific setting -it often involves the participants in the research process, thus blurring the distinction between action and research Nature of Qualitative Research Survey research- describes what is, how variables are distributed across a population or phenomenon -surveys describe the facts and characteristics of a given phenomenon -is often labeled as quantitative because it’s focused on how much/many -qualitative researches are interested in understanding how people interpret their experiences, how they construct their worlds Philosophical Perspectives Positivist orientationassumes that reality exists, it is observable, stable, measurable -experimental research assumes this -the rigidity of this leads to logical empiricism Logical empiricismseeks unity in science, and says that there’s no difference b/n natural and social sci Postpositivismit is possible to distinguish between more and less plausible claims Interpretive research- assumes that reality is socially constructed -there are multiple realities of a single event -researchers don’t “find” knowledge, but construct it instead -philosopher Hesserl made an assumption that the experience a person has includes the way in which the experience is interpreted -there isn’t an “objective” experience Symbolic interactionism focuses on meaning and interpretation -in critical inquiry the goal is to critique and challenge -it’s a contrast between a research that seeks to understand and research that challenges -according to postmodernists, explanations for the way thing are in the world are nothing but myths -there’s no single “truth”, but there are multiple -postmodernists celebrate diversity among people, ideas, institutions -postmodern research is highly experimental, creative; no 2 studies look alike *Table 1.1 Pg 11* -a postmodern inquiry would question the dichotomies inherent in the research problem -the findings of this could be presented in narratives, field notes, drama, poetry Definition and Characteristics of Qualitative Research -qual researchers are interested in understanding the meaning people have constructed -how people make sense of their world and the experiences they have in the world 4 Key Characteristics to understanding the nature of qual research: Focus on Meaning and Understanding -achieve an understanding of how people make sense out of their lives -how people interpret what they experience -key concern is understanding the phenomenon from the participants’ perspectives, not researcher Emicinsider’s perspective Eticoutsider’s view Researcher as Primary Instrument -the researcher is the primary instrument for data collection and analysis -researcher can expand understanding through nonverbal as well as verbal communication, process info quickly, clarify and summarize material -biases can occur though; so rather than try to eliminate the biases, it’s important to identify them An Inductive Process -researchers gather data to build concepts rather than deductively testing hypotheses -qualitative researchers build toward theory from observations Rich Description -words and pictures are used, rather than numbers -quotes, field notes, interviews, videotapes Other Characteristics and Competencies -design of a qualitative study is emergent and flexible, responsive to changing conditions -sample selection is usually nonrandom, purposeful, and small as opposed to larger samples -the investigator also spends a large amount of time in the natural setting of the study, often in intense contact with the participants Desirable competencies include: -a questioning stance with regard to your work and life context (why are things the way they are?) -high tolerance for ambiguity; be flexible -be a careful observer -ask good questions -think inductively; draw from specific raw data to abstract concepts -comfort in writing Ch 2- Types of Qualitative Research Basic Qualitative Research -most common type of qual research is a basic, interpretive study -individuals construct reality in interaction with their social worlds -constructionism is this -the researcher is interested in understanding the meaning a phenomenon has for those involved -purpose is to understand how people make sense of their lives and their experiences -data is collected through interviews, observations, document analysis -all qualitative research is interested in how meaning is constructed, how people make sense of their lives and their worlds -goal of a basic study is to uncover and interpret these meanings Phenomenology -phenomenologists are interested in our lived experience -is a study of people’s conscious experience of their everyday life and social action -task of the pheno’gist is to depict the basic structure of experience (love, anger, betrayal) -a phenomenological interview is the primary method of data collection -prior to interviewing them, the researcher explores their own experiences to examine dimensions fo the experience and to become aware of personal prejudices, viewpoints -epoche “to refrain from judgment” Phenomenological reductionprocess of continually returning to the essence of the experience to derive the inner structure Horizontalizationprocess of laying out all the data and treating them all with equal weight -the data are then organized into clusters or themes Imaginative variationviewing the data from various perspectives -the product of a phenomenological study is a description that presents the essence of the phenomenon -it’s supposed to make you feel like you understand better what it’s like for someone to experience that - phenomenological approach is well suited for studying affective, emotional, intense human experiences Ethnography -focus on human society and culture -one has to spend time with the group being studied -the result of an ethnographic inquiry is cultural description -immersion in the site as a participant observer is the primary method of data collection -the heart of an ethnography is a thick description; a context that is thickly described -is not enough to only describe the cultural practices; researcher also depicts their understanding of the cultural meaning of the phenomenon Grounded Theory -investigator is the primary instrument of data collection -analysis assumes an inductive stance -end result is a theory that emerges from the data -the difference between grounded theory from qualitative research is its focus on building theory -substantive theory -it has a specificity -useful for addressing questions about process, or how something changes over time 1) Data is first guided by theoretical sampling analyst decides what data to collect 2)Data is analyzed using the constant comparative method one segment is compared with another to determine similarities/differences 3) Identification of a core category is the main conceptual element through which all other categories are connected the core category must appear frequently in the data, and must develop the theory Narrative Analysis -use of stories as data -text is analyzed for the meaning it has for its author -narrative research makes use of various approaches to analyzing stories -each approach examines how the story is constructed, what linguistic tools are used, the cultural context of the story -biographical approach; psychological; linguistic approach Critical Research (differs from the previous, which are interpretive) -it seeks not just to study and understand society, but to critique it and change society -power dynamics are at the heart of critical research -questions are asked about who has power, how it’s negotiated -focuses less on individuals than on context -raises questions about how power relations advance the interests of one group while oppressing others -it can be combined with other qualitative methodologies -often draws from feminist theory Participatory action research (PAR)- political empowerment of people through their involvement in the design of a research project Ch 3- Qualitative Case Study Research -case study is a form of qualitative research -case studies share the search for meaning; the researcher as the primary instrument of data collection/analysis, an inductive investigative strategy, and the product being richly descriptive Case Study Defined Case study- an in depth description and analysis of a bounded system Bounded System -a case study is a choice of what is to be studied whata bounded system; a single entity around which there are boundaries -the case is a phenomenon of some sort occurring in a bounded context -a case is a noun; a thing; an entity -if the phenomenon you’re interested in studying isn’t bounded then it’s not a case -ask how finite the data collection would be -if it is infinite (there is no end to it), then the phenomenon isn’t bounded enough to be a case -this type of qualitative research stands apart from ethnography, phenomenology, narrative research -other types of studies can be combined with the case study -all methods of gathering data can be used in a case study -case study research is a qualitative approach in which the investigator explores a bounded system over time, through in-depth data collection involving multiple sources of info and reports a case description and case-based themes Special Features Particularistic the case study focuses on a particular situation, event program -is a good design for practical problems, like questions, situations, confusing occurrences Descriptivethe end product of a case study is a thick description of the phenomenon under study Heuristicthe case study illuminates the reader’s understanding of the phenomenon under study -extends the reader’s experience, or confirm what is known -the uniqueness of a case study doesn’t lie much in the methods employed, but the questions asked Case study knowledge is: -more concrete; resonates with our own experience -more contextual; our experiences are rooted in context -more developed by reader interpretation; readers bring their own experience -based more on reference populations determined by the reader; readers have some population in mind Case study research is not: -casework; strategies for dealing with developmental problems -case method; instructional technique shown to students for problem solving situations -case history/records; tracing of a person or a group’s past -case study has an advantage over “how” and “Why” questions -case studies get as close to the subject of interest as they can, partly by means of direct observation in natural settings by their access to subjective factors -a case study might be selected for what it can reveal about a phenomenon, knowledge to which we wouldn’t have access otherwise -a case study is an intensive holistic descr’n and analysis of a single entity, phenomenon, or social unit Types of Qualitative Case Studies Historical and Observational Historicala study of the development of a particular organization over time -the researcher presents it from a historical perspective -histories are the preferred strategy when there is no access or control (Eg people are dead) Observationalmajor data gathering technique is participant observation -focus of the study is on a particular organization or some aspect of the org Life historyresearcher conducts interviews with one person for a first person narrative Intrinsic and Instrumental Intrinsicthe researcher is interested in the particular case itself Instrumentalexamined mainly to provide insight into an issue or to redraw a generalization -the case is on secondary interest Multisite Case Studies -when researchers conduct a study using more than one case -involves analyzing data from several cases and can be distinguished from the single case study that may have subunits embedded within -the more cases included in a study and the greater the variation, the more compelling an interpretation is likely to be -do fieldwork one site at a time to avoid confusion though Strengths and Limitations of Case Studies Strengths -is theoretically possible to predict behaviour in similar settings without actually observing the behave -is the best plan for answering the research questions; its strengths > limitations -it offers insights that expand its readers’ experiences -readers can learn vicariously through the researcher’s narrative description -the colorful description can create an image -what we learn in a particular case can be transferred to similar situations Limitations -a researcher may not have the time or money to conduct the research -the product may be too lengthy, too detailed, too involved -the sensitivity and integrity of the investigator, since they’re the primary instrument of data col’n/analy -the investigator is left to rely on their own instincts throughout most of the research -biases may also occur -issues of reliability, validity, generalizability Ch 4- Designing Your Study and Selecting a Sample Selecting a Topic -what are you curious about, why are things the way they are, what happens when something changes at work, or home, or in the neighbourhood -look at current or political issues, literature -theory might also suggest topics -problem can be derived from a theory by questioning whether a particular theory can be sustained in practice The Research Problem -raise a question about something that perplexes and challenges the mind -ask what you want to know in this study -in the research problem,translate your curiosity into a problem that can be addressed through research -compared to a funnel shape -then narrow it down, to direct the reader toward the specific question you have -also point out the lack of info; “despite the amount of research, little is known” -the gap in our knowledge is what will be addressed -purpose statement would then show what the study intends to do -research questions would then explain what the study will attempt to study/understand -are broad questions that identify areas to ask questions about -they are not the same as the question that gave rise to the study -the problem statement lays out the logic of the research study; comes after the intro -the intro is 5-10pgs, gives details about the topic, what is known, what research has been done, what concepts are important -essentially leads the reader through the topic to get to the place you want to land -problem statement is 1-2pgs -three important components; Contextthe topic that you’re interested in Gap what we don’t know Significancemaking it clear that this is a significant problem to address The Theoretical Framework -it’s often the lack of a clearly articulated theoretical framework that results in a rejected study proposal What is a Theoretical Framework? -underlies all research; theory is present in all qualitative studies -the system of concepts, assumptions, expectations, beliefs, theories that supports and informs research Identifying your Theoretical Framework -what is your disciplinary orientation -determines what you’re curious about, what puzzles you, what questions you ask -one of the clearest ways to identify your theoretical framework is to attend to the literature that’s related to the topic *Fig 4.1 for the framework* -theoretical framework indicates to the reader the topic you’re interested in -problem statement identifies what’s known, what aspect you’re focusing on, what’s not known, and also the purpose of the study Reviewing the Literature -the theoretical or conceptual writing in an area in which someone has collected and analyzed data -the qtn takes you to some literature, which sends you back to looking at the phenomenon of interest -claiming that there is no literature means there’s no way to study it, or you searched too narrowly -an investigator who ignores prior research risks duplicating an already done study or repeating the mistakes of other researchers Why Review the Literature -provides the foundation for contributing to the knowledge base -can demonstrate how the present study advances -can contribute to answering specific design questions -researchers can benefit how well certain data collection techniques may or may not have yielded meaningful data -references to previous literature may appear in 3 places: Introto build the case for doing the present study Literature Reviewliterature is synthesized and critiqued Findings of a studypoints out what the study contributes to the knowledge base of the field -most writers agree that becoming familiar with the background of a topic is best undertaken early in the research process Conducting and Writing Up a Literature Review -decide which resources should be obtained based on the following criteria: Is the author and authority on the topic; When was the report written; What exactly was written about; What is the quality of the source -obtain the full document, and begin to develop an annotated bib -know when to stop reviewing the literature; -when you turn to the reference list and are familiar with all resources -when you know the literature; studies, people, dates, theories, historical trends -most resources are organized according to particular themes -sometimes they’re organized chronologically Sample Selection 2 types; probability sampling where the investigator generalizes results from the sample to the population from which it was drawn (not justifiable in qualitative research) -non-probability sampling is most commonly used Purposefulbased on the assumption that the investigator wants to gain insight -sample is called because of their experience/competence Types of Purposeful Sampling Typical: selected because it reflects the average person or situation Unique: based on rare attributes of the phenomenon of interest -you’re interested because they’re unique or atypical Eg. Person in hs who became a professional athlete Maximum variation: patterns that emerge from great variation Eg. Those who rep the widest range of the characteristics of interest of study Convenience: based on time, money, location, availability Snowball: most common; you select key participants, and then ask them to refer you to somebody Theoretical sampling: analyst jointly collects and analyzes data and decides what to collect next and where to find them to develop his theory as it emerges How Many in the Sample? -depends on the questions being asked, the data being gathered, the analysis in progress, the resources you have -if the purpose is to maximize info, the sampling is terminated when no info comes in -thus redundancy is the primary criterion Sample in Case Studies -two levels of sampling are usually necessary; first, we select the case to be studied -then we do sampling within the case itself -a sample within the case needs to be selected either before the data collection begins, or while the data are being gathered Ch 5- Conducting Effective Interviews Interview Data -main purpose is to find out what is in and on someone else’s mind -to find out from them things we can’t directly observe (feelings, thoughts, intentions) -interviews are necessary when we’re interested in past events that can’t be replicated -also used when conducting intensive case studies of a few selected individuals Types of Interviews By Structure *Table 5.1* -there are three types of interviews that vary according to the amount of struct
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