Data Collection Methods SAGE Publications Inc

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04 Marshall 4864 qxd 2 1 2006 3 16 PM Page 98,98 DESIGNING QUALITATIVE RESEARCH. explicit political agenda Second How does she construe her location. her positioning relative to the participants Does she view herself as dis. tant and objective or intimately involved in their lives Third what is. the direction of her gaze Is it outward toward others externalizing. the research problem or does it include explicit inner contemplation. Fourth what is the purpose of the research Does she assume that the pri. mary purpose of the study is professional and essentially private e g. promoting her career or is it intended to be useful and informative to. the participants or the site Related to the fourth category is the fifth. Who is the intended audience of the study the scholarly community or. the participants themselves Sixth what is the researcher s political. positioning Does she view the research as neutral or does she claim a. politically explicit agenda Finally the seventh assumption has to do. with how she views the exercise of agency Does she see herself and the. participants as essentially passive or as engaged in local praxis. Brantlinger p 4 Assumptions made in these seven categories shape. how the specific research methods are conceived and implemented. throughout a study Explicit discussion of assumptions strengthens the. overall logic and integrity of the proposal,PRIMARY METHODS. Observation, Observation entails the systematic noting and recording of events. behaviors and artifacts objects in the social setting chosen for study. The observational record is frequently referred to as field notes detailed. nonjudgmental concrete descriptions of what has been observed For. studies relying exclusively on observation the researcher makes no spe. cial effort to have a particular role in the setting to be tolerated as an. unobtrusive observer is enough Classroom studies are one example of. observation often found in education in which the researcher docu. ments and describes actions and interactions that are complex what. they mean can only be inferred without other sources of information. This method assumes that behavior is purposeful and expressive of. deeper values and beliefs Observation can range from a highly struc. tured detailed notation of behavior structured by checklists to a more. holistic description of events and behavior, In the early stages of qualitative inquiry the researcher typically. enters the setting with broad areas of interest but without predetermined. 04 Marshall 4864 qxd 2 1 2006 3 16 PM Page 99,Data Collection Methods 99.
categories or strict observational checklists In this way the. researcher is able to discover the recurring patterns of behavior and. relationships After these patterns are identified and described. through early analysis of field notes checklists become more appro. priate and context sensitive Focused observation then is used at later. stages of the study usually to see for example if analytic themes. explain behavior and relationships over a long time or in a variety of. Observation is a fundamental and highly important method in all quali. tative inquiry It is used to discover complex interactions in natural. social settings Even in studies using in depth interviews observation. plays an important role as the researcher notes the interviewee s body. language and affect in addition to her words It is however a method. that requires a great deal of the researcher Discomfort uncomfortable. ethical dilemmas and even danger the difficulty of managing a rela. tively unobtrusive role and the challenge of identifying the big picture. while finely observing huge amounts of fast moving and complex. behavior are just a few of the challenges, Whether a researcher is simply observing from afar or finding a. participant observer role in the setting some contexts may present dan. gers Street ethnography is a term that describes research settings which. can be dangerous either physically or emotionally such as working. with the police as Manning did described in Chapter 3 drug users. cults and situations in which political or social tensions may erupt into. violence Weppner 1977, Observations involve more than just hanging out Planful and. self aware observers use observation systematically DeWalt DeWalt. 2001 At the proposal stage the researcher should describe the. purpose of the observing the phase of the study in which it is likely to. be most fruitful and the use of field notes to respond to the research. Field notes are not scribbles The proposal writer should have. explicit note organizing and note management strategies Figure 4 1. provides an example of edited and cleaned up field notes for a study. of kindergarten teachers O Hearn Curran 1997 has formatted descrip. tive notes in a column on the left while reserving a second column on. the right for her comments These include her emerging analytic. insights about the behavior Observers comments are often a quite. fruitful source of analytic insights and clues that focus data collection. more tightly more on this in Chapter 5 They may also provide impor. tant questions for subsequent interviews,04 Marshall 4864 qxd 2 1 2006 3 16 PM Page 100. 100 DESIGNING QUALITATIVE RESEARCH,Figure 4 1 Sample Field Notes. Tuesday November 13 1997 12 40 p m,Observation Observer s comments.
There are 17 children in the room There are 3 adults. 1 teacher 1 classroom assistant and 1 student,teacher the student teacher is an older woman. The room is in the basement of the school The school. is a brick building approximately 90 to 100 years old. The room is about 40 feet by 30 feet The room is, carpeted and is sectioned off by furniture There is an. area with big books and a chart in the left hand back. corner of the room Next to that is a shelf with a,mixture of small books tapes and big books in. The teacher seems to, baskets Next to that is a small area with toy kitchen. have done a great job,furniture and dolls There is an area with several.
of making the room, tables in front of the kitchen area There are many. seem very inviting The, small chairs pulled up to the table In the front of the. space itself is not,room is an area with a sand table There is a. semicircle table in the left hand front corner of the. room The walls are colorful with papers that have, been made by the children One wall has papers with. apples on them Another wall has pictures of children. with their names on the front of the papers There are. several small windows in the room and the florescent. lighting seems to be the major source of light, The children have just come into the room They have Most of the children.
put their coats and backpacks onto their hooks in the appear to know the. hall outside routine,Participant Observation, Developed primarily from cultural anthropology and qualitative soci. ology participant observation as this method is typically called is both an. overall approach to inquiry and a data gathering method To some degree. it is an essential element of all qualitative studies As its name suggests. participant observation demands firsthand involvement in the social. world chosen for study Immersion in the setting permits the researcher. to hear to see and to begin to experience reality as the participants do. Ideally the researcher spends a considerable amount of time in the setting. learning about daily life there This immersion offers the researcher the. opportunity to learn directly from his own experience Personal reflections. are integral to the emerging analysis of a cultural group because they pro. vide the researcher with new vantage points and with opportunities to. make the strange familiar and the familiar strange Glesne 1999. 04 Marshall 4864 qxd 2 1 2006 3 16 PM Page 101,Data Collection Methods 101. This method for gathering data is basic to all qualitative studies. and forces a consideration of the role or stance of the researcher as a. participant observer her positionality We have explored issues of her. role more fully in Chapter 3 We reiterate that at the proposal stage it. is helpful to elaborate on the planned extent of participation what the. nature of that involvement is likely to be how much will be revealed. about the study s purpose to the people in the setting how intensively. the researcher will be present how focused the participation will be. and how ethical dilemmas will be managed The researcher should be. specific as to how his participation will inform the research questions. In Depth Interviewing, Qualitative researchers rely quite extensively on in depth inter. viewing Kahn and Cannell 1957 describe interviewing as a conver. sation with a purpose p 149 It may be the overall strategy or only. one of several methods employed To distinguish the qualitative inter. view from for example a journalist s or television talk show interview. we might speak of its width instead of its depth Wengraf 2001. Interviewing varies in terms of a priori structure and in the latitude the. interviewee has in responding to questions Patton 2002 pp 341 347. puts interviews into three general categories the informal conversa. tional interview the general interview guide approach and the stan. dardized open ended interview, Qualitative in depth interviews typically are much more like con. versations than formal events with predetermined response categories. The researcher explores a few general topics to help uncover the partici. pant s views but otherwise respects how the participant frames and. structures the responses This method in fact is based on an assumption. fundamental to qualitative research The participant s perspective on the. phenomenon of interest should unfold as the participant views. it the emic perspective not as the researcher views it the etic perspec. tive A degree of systematization in questioning may be necessary in for. example a multisite case study or when many participants are inter. viewed or at the analysis and interpretation stage when the researcher. is testing findings in more focused and structured questioning. The most important aspect of the interviewer s approach is con. veying the attitude that the participant s views are valuable and useful. The interviewer s success will depend on how well he has anticipated. and practiced his role in ethical issues as discussed in Chapter 3. Interviews have particular strengths An interview yields data in. quantity quickly When more than one person participates e g focus. 04 Marshall 4864 qxd 2 1 2006 3 16 PM Page 102,102 DESIGNING QUALITATIVE RESEARCH.
group interviews discussed later the process takes in a wider variety of. information than if there were fewer participants the familiar trade off. between breadth and depth Immediate follow up and clarification are. possible Combined with observation interviews allow the researcher to. understand the meanings that everyday activities hold for people. Interviewing has limitations and weaknesses however Interviews. involve personal interaction cooperation is essential Interviewees. may be unwilling or may be uncomfortable sharing all that the inter. viewer hopes to explore or they may be unaware of recurring patterns. in their lives The interviewer may not ask questions that evoke long. narratives from participants because of a lack of expertise or familiarity. with the local language or because of a lack of skill By the same token. she may not properly comprehend responses to the questions or various. elements of the conversation And at times interviewees may have. good reason not to be truthful see Douglas 1976 for a discussion. Interviewers should have superb listening skills and be skillful at. personal interaction question framing and gentle probing for elabora. tion Volumes of data can be obtained through interviewing but are. time consuming to analyze Finally there is the issue of the quality of. the data When the researcher is using in depth interviews as the sole. way of gathering data she should have demonstrated through the. conceptual framework that the purpose of the study is to uncover and. describe the participants perspectives on events that is that the sub. jective view is what matters Studies making more objectivist assump. tions would triangulate interview data with data gathered through other. methods Finally because interviews at first glance seem so much like. natural conversations researchers sometimes use them thoughtlessly. in an undertheorized manner as if the respondent is surely providing. an unproblematic window on psychological or social realities. Wengraf 2001 p 1, Figure 4 2 provides elaborated notes from an interview conducted. for a study of students of color in a community college Koski 1997 was. particularly interested in how these students identified and defined effec. tive teachers She was intrigued with the notion of culturally relevant. pedagogy and conducted several in depth interviews with teachers. identified by students as especially effective She has formatted the. notes from the interview to provide space for her comments as did. O Hearn Curran in the field notes presented in Figure 4 1. In addition to generic in depth interviewing there are several more. specialized forms including ethnographic interviewing phenomeno. logical interviewing elite interviewing focus group interviewing and. Data Collection Methods Q ualitative researchers typically rely on four methods for gathering information a participating in the setting b observing directly c interviewing in depth and d analyzing documents and material cul ture These form the core of their inquiry the staples of the diet Several secondary and specialized methods of data collection supplement them This

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