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School Of Educational Studies
Universiti Sains Malaysia
Some Definitions

An inquiry process of understanding a social

or human problem based on building a
complex, holistic picture formed with words
reporting detailed views of informants and
conducted in a natural setting.
Cresswell (1994)
“Any kind of research that produces
findings not arrived at by means of
Statistical procedures or other
means of quantification."

(Strauss & Corbin, 1990)

Basis for the Use of a
Qualitative Methodology
Strauss and Corbin (1990) claim that
qualitative methods can be used to:

• better understand any phenomenon about

which little is yet known.
• gain new perspectives on things about
which much is already known, or to gain
more in-depth information that may be
difficult to convey quantitatively.
An Interactive Model of Research Design
Source Maxwell,J.A (1996)

Purposes Conceptual Context

Research Questions

Contextual factors influencing research design
Perceived problems experience
Personal and political goals theory

Conceptual Context

Prior &pilot
Research Questions

Data and
Ethical standard

setting Validity

Research paradigm
Personal styles Research skills
Characteristics/Features of Qualitative

• An exploratory and Descriptive focus

• Emergent Design
• Data Collection in the natural setting
• Emphasis on ‘human-as-instrument’
• Qualitative methods of data collection
• Early and On-going inductive analysis
Cresswell (1994) divides qualitative research into
five major traditions :

• The Biography
• Phenomenology
• Grounded Theory
• Ethnography
• Case Study
Qualitative Research Design

Qualitative Research Designs

Ethnographic The collection of extensive narrative data

over an extended period of time in natural
settings to gain insights about other types
of research.
•Data are collected through observations

at particular points of time over a

sustained period.
•Data include observations, records and

interpretations of what is seen.

Case Studies An in-depth study of an individual group,

institution, organization or program. Data
include interviews, field notes of
observations, archival data and
biographical data.
grounded theory the researcher generates an abstract analytical schema of
a phenomenon, a theory that explains some action,
interaction, or process. This analysis occurs primarily
through collecting interview data, making multiple visits to
the field (theoretical sampling), attempting to develop and
interrelate categories of information via constant
comparison, and writing a substantive or context-specific
theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1990).

Phenomenology A study of the shared meaning of experience of a

phenomenon for several individuals. “The understanding of
meaningful concrete relations implicit in the original
description of experience in the context of a particular
situation is the primary target of phenomenological
knowledge” (Moustakas, 1994, p. 14). The researcher
reduces data gathered as lengthy interviews describing the
shared experiences of several informants to a central
meaning, or “essence” of the experience.

Biography A study of a single individual and his or her experiences as

told to the researcher or as found in the documents and
archival materials (Denzin, 1989). Broadly include
biographies, autobiographies, life histories, and oral
histories. The researcher investigates the life of one
individual, often collecting data primarily through
interviews and documents of many types (e.g., diaries,
family histories,
Qualitative inquiry is for the researcher who
is willing to do the following:

1. Commit to extensive time in the field

-engage in the complex, time - consuming
process of data analysis – the ambitious
task of sorting through large amounts of
data and reducing them to a few themes
or categories.
2. Write long passages, because the
evidence must substantiate claims and
the writer needs to show multiple
3. Participate in a form of social and human
science research that does not have firm
guidelines or specific procedures and is
evolving and changing constantly.
• the nature of the research question: often starts with a how
or a what so that initial forays into the topic describe what
is going on.
• the topic needs to be explored.
• the need to present a detailed view of the topic
• to study individuals in their natural setting.
• interest in writing in a literary style; the writer brings
himself or herself into the study
• select a qualitative approach because audiences are
receptive to qualitative research.
• emphasize the researcher's role as an active learner who
can tell the story from the participants' view rather than as
an "expert" who passes judgment on participants.
The Role of the Researcher
in Qualitative Inquiry
Before conducting a qualitative study, a
researcher must do three things.
2. (s)he must adopt the characteristics of
the naturalist paradigm.
3. must develop the level of skill
appropriate for a human instrument, or
the vehicle through which data will be
collected and interpreted.
4. prepare a research design that utilizes
accepted strategies for naturalistic
inquiry (Lincoln and Guba, 1985).
"theoretical sensitivity”

• refers to a personal quality of the

researcher. It indicates an awareness of
the subtleties of meaning of data. …[It]
refers to the attribute of having insight,
the ability to give meaning to data, the
capacity to understand, and capability to
separate the pertinent from that which
isn’t (Strauss and Corbin, 1990, p. 42).
Research Design and Data
Collection Strategies
1. Determine a focus for the inquiry. This should establish a
boundary for the study, and provide inclusion/exclusion
criteria for new information. Boundaries, however, can be
altered, and typically are.

2. Determine the fit of the research paradigm to the research

focus. The researcher must compare the characteristics
of the qualitative paradigm with the goals of the

3. Determine where and from whom data will be collected.

4. Determine what the successive phases of the inquiry will

be. Phase one, for example, might feature open-ended
data collection, while successive phases will be more
Research Design and Data Collection
5. Determine what additional instrumentation may be used,
beyond the researcher as the human instrument.

6. Plan data collection and recording modes. This must include

how detailed and specific research questions will be, and
how faithfully data will be reproduced.

7. Plan which data analysis procedures will be used.

8. Plan the logistics of data collection, including scheduling

and budgeting.

9. Plan the techniques that will be used to determine

Sampling Strategies for
Qualitative Researchers

purposeful sampling is the dominant

strategy in qualitative research.
Purposeful sampling seeks
information-rich cases which can be
studied in depth (Patton, 1990).
Sampling Strategy Description
Site Selection Select site where specific events are expected to occur

Comprehensive sampling Choose entire group by criteria

Select to obtain maximum differences of perceptions about a topic among

Maximum variation sampling
information-rich informants or group

Each successive person or group is nominated by a prior person as

Network sampling
appropriate for a profile or attribute

Sampling by case type

Choose extreme cases after knowing the typical or average case-e.g.,

Extreme-case sampling
outstanding successes, crisis events

Intense-case sampling Select cases that are intense but not extreme illustrations

Typical-case sampling Know the typical characteristics of a group and sample by cases

Unique-case sampling Choose the unusual or rare case of some dimension or event

Reputational-case sampling Obtain the recommendation of knowledgeable experts for the best examples

Critical-case sampling Identify the case that can illustrate some phenomenon dramatically

Select by information-rich persons or situations known to experience the

Concept/theory-based sampling
concept or to be attempting to implement the concept/theory

Combination of purposeful sampling Choose various sampling strategies as needed or desired for purposes,
strategies especially in large-scale studies and lengthy process studies
Data Collection Techniques
The two prevailing forms of data collection associated with
qualitative inquiry are interviews and observation.


• Qualitative interviews may be used either as the primary

strategy for data collection, or in conjunction with
observation, document analysis, or other techniques (
Bogdan and Biklen, 1982).

• Qualitative interviewing utilizes open-ended questions that

allow for individual variations.

• Three types of qualitative interviewing: 1) informal,

conversational interviews; 2) semi-structured interviews;
and 3) standardized, open-ended interviews. Patton (1990
An interview guide or "schedule" is a list of
questions or general topics that the interviewer
wants to explore during each interview:

• prepared to insure that basically the same information is

obtained from each person, there are no predetermined
• interviewer is free to probe and explore within these
predetermined inquiry areas.
• ensure good use of limited interview time; they make
interviewing multiple subjects more systematic and
comprehensive; and they help to keep interactions focused.
• can be modified over time to focus attention on areas of
particular importance, or to exclude questions the
researcher has found to be unproductive for the goals of
the research
(Lofland and Lofland, 1984)
Recording Data.
• written notes or a tape recorder – a matter of
personal preference.
• For instance, Patton says that a tape recorder is
"indispensable" (1990, p. 348), while Lincoln and
Guba "do not recommend recording except for
unusual reasons" (1985, p. 241).

- intrusiveness of recording devices / technical

-but can capture data more than written notes
- can focus on the interview.
• observation of participants in the context of a natural
• for the purpose of description—of settings, activities,
people, and the meanings of what is observed from the
perspective of the participants.

- Observation can lead to deeper understandings than

interviews alone, because it provides a knowledge of the
context in which events occur, and may enable the
researcher to see things that participants themselves are
not aware of, or that they are unwilling to discuss (
Patton, 1990).
- A skilled observer is one who is trained in the process of
monitoring both verbal and nonverbal cues, and in the use
of concrete, unambiguous, descriptive language.
Several strategies of
• to watch from outside, without being observed.
• maintain a passive presence, being as
unobtrusive as possible and not interacting with
• to engage in limited interaction, intervening only
when further clarification of actions is needed.
• exercise more active control over the
observation, as in the case of a formal interview,
to elicit specific types of information.
• act as a full participant in the situation, with
either a hidden or known identity.
Each of these strategies has specific
advantages, disadvantages and
concerns which must be carefully
examined by the researcher
(Schatzman and Strauss, 1973).
• In any case, the researcher must
consider the legal and ethical
responsibilities associated with
naturalistic observation.
Recording Data
• researchers rely most heavily on the use of field
notes, which are running descriptions of settings,
people, activities, and sounds. Field notes may
include drawings or maps.
• Acknowledging the difficulty of writing extensive
field notes during an observation, Lofland and
Lofland (1984) recommend jotting down notes
that will serve as a memory aid when full field
notes are constructed.
• This should happen as soon after observation as
possible, preferably the same day. In addition to
field notes, researchers may use photographs,
videotapes, and audio tapes as means of
accurately capturing a setting.
Tips for good data collection

• When in doubt, refer to the research questions

• Pre-test the interview/focus group guide
• Revise the process or guide if it’s not working
• Talk to the right people (target audience and key
• Use trained interviewers/moderators
• Keep good notes, record when possible
• Make a summary right away
• Respect your audience
• Respect your research questions
• Follow-up on feedback
• Distribute promised reports
• Always reward the participants
More Tips

• Listen carefully
• Talk as little as possible
• Don’t validate or challenge experiences
• Come prepared to learn
• Be open to new ideas
• Don’t inform or instruct
• Respect time issues
• Plan in advance for as much as possible
• Tell their story - not the story that fits the
Gaining Access and Researcher

• make use of contacts that can help

remove barriers to entrance;
• avoid wasting respondents’ time by doing
advance research for information that is
already part of the public record;
• treat respondents with courtesy.
• provide respondents with a
straightforward description of the goals of
the research
Other Sources of Data
analysis of documents.
• official records, letters, newspaper
accounts, diaries, and reports, as
well as the published data used in a
review of literature..
Deciding When to Stop Sampling

1) exhaustion of resources;
2) emergence of regularities;
3) overextension, or going too far beyond
the boundaries of the research
(Guba, 1978).
The decision to stop sampling must take into
account the research goals, the need to achieve
depth through triangulation of data sources, and
the possibility of greater breadth through
examination of a variety of sampling sites.
Analysis of Data
• Bogdan and Biklen define qualitative data
analysis as "working with data, organizing
it, breaking it into manageable units,
synthesizing it, searching for patterns,
discovering what is important and what is
to be learned, and deciding what you will
tell others" (1982, p. 145).
• Qualitative researchers tend to use
inductive analysis of data, meaning that
the critical themes emerge out of the data
(Patton, 1990).
• Qualitative analysis requires some
creativity, for the challenge is to
place the raw data into logical,
meaningful categories; to examine
them in a holistic fashion; and to find
a way to communicate this
interpretation to others.
Addressing Trustworthiness in Qualitative

• The basic question addressed by the

notion of trustworthiness, according
to Lincoln and Guba, is simple: "How
can an inquirer persuade his or her
audiences that the research findings
of an inquiry are worth paying
attention to?" (1985, p. 290).
Table 1
Comparison of criteria for judging the quality of quantitative versus
qualitative research

Conventional terms Naturalistic terms

internal validity credibility

external validity transferability
reliability dependability
objectivity confirmability
Strategies With Which to Establish Trustworthiness

Strategy Criteria
Credibility Prolonged and varied field experience
  Time sampling
  Reflexivity (field journal)
  Member checking
  Peer examination
  Interview technique
  Establishing authority of researcher
  Structural coherence
  Referential adequacy
Transferability Nominated sample
  Comparison of sample to demographic data
  Time sample
  Dense description
Dependability Dependability audit

  Dense description of research methods

  Stepwise replication


  Peer examination

  Code-recode procedure

Confirmability Confirmability audit


Triangulation is the key to reliability

• Always have more than one researcher

• Always have more than one analyst
• Cross check information across sources
• Review documents
• Keep good records
• Ask for a completely "outside" perspective
Strategies to Enhance Design Validity

Strategy Description

Prolonged and persistent field Allows interim data analysis and corroboration to ensure the match
work between findings and participant reality

Participant language; Obtain literal statements of participants and quotations from

verbatim accounts documents
Record precise, almost literal, and detailed descriptions of people
Low-inference descriptors
and situations
Multiple researchers Agreement on descriptive data collected by a research team

Mechanically recorded data Use of tape recorders, photographs and videotapes

Use of participant recorded perceptions in diaries or anecdotal
Participant researcher
records for corroboration

Check informally with participants for accuracy during data

Member checking
collection; frequently done in participant observation studies

Ask each participant to review researcher's synthesis of all

Participant review interviews with the person for accuracy of representation; frequently
done in interview studies
Actively search for, record, analyze, and report negative cases of
Negative cases or discrepant
discrepant data that are an exception to patterns or that modify
patterns found in the data
Judging Qualitative
1. Coherence: Does the story make sense? How have the
conclusions been supported? To what extent have multiple
data sources been used to give credence to the interpretation
that has been made? (p. 53).Related to coherence is the
notion of "structural corroboration," also known as
triangulation (p. 55).
2. Consensus: The condition in which the readers of a work
concur that the findings and/or interpretations reported by
the investigator are consistent with their own experience or
with the evidence presented (p. 56).
3. Instrumental Utility: The most important test of any
qualitative study is its usefulness. A good qualitative study
can help us understand a situation that would otherwise be
enigmatic or confusing (p. 58).

• A good study can help us anticipate the future, not in the

predictive sense of the word, but as a kind of road map or
guide. "Guides call our attention to aspects of the situation or
place we might otherwise miss" (Eisner, 1991, p. 59).

The decision to use qualitative methodologies

should be considered carefully; by its very
nature, qualitative research can be emotionally
taxing and extraordinarily time consuming. At the
same time, it can yield rich information not
obtainable through statistical sampling