Qualitative data is any information that can be captured that is not numerical in nature. It can be gathered from interviews, observation and written documents. (Trochim, 2006).
Unlike the quantitative data, the qualitative data is difficult to analyze and report, it depends on the criteria of the researcher and often researchers find difficult to prove its trustworthiness, transferability, credibility, confirmability and dependability. (EdinburghX: SOCRMx, 2017)
To understand better how to analyze and report conclusions from qualitative data, we will analyze 6 essays written by young people living on the Isle of Sheppey in the southeast of England who were about to leave school in 1978. They were asked by sociologist Ray Pahl to imagine that they were nearing the end of their life, and that something made them think back to the time when they left school. They were then asked to write an account of their life over the next 30 or 40 years.
By reading these 6 essays we find a key theme. Young adults left school at around 16 years old, in most cases they became apprentices of an occupation from the community, in this case few of them aspired to get into a college, study and have a better job opportunity. After that, they report themselves in the clear majority to marry and have kids. Most of them visualize themselves with family in an owned house, but just few of them owned a car. Most of them stood on the same job for a long time, and they were ascending of position at work, just a few decided to change their paths to create their own business or experiment another job, until they retire. (Pahl, 1978)
By using this data, researchers might find out how many 16-year-old men began or finished college and how was their opportunities, income and family composition different from those who began to work at the age of 16.
In my opinion, if I was conducting a project using this data, I will like to segment the different stories into the ones that dream to enter college against the ones that stood to work when they left school at 16 years old. Also, I will like to segment between the kids that had more details and clear dreams against the ones that didn’t to understand if there is a relation between having a clear project and the chances they had to achieve it against the ones that don’t have a clear project, did they are satisfied with what they achieved?
Researchers in qualitative analysis need to have time and be very detailed observer when doing this analysis looking to find the most information they want and with a clear goal. Information in qualitative analysis is often very interesting but difficult to analyze, but having a clear goal gives researchers a path to get more from their data.
EdinburghX: SOCRMx. (2017). EDx. Obtenido de Social Research Methods course: https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:EdinburghX+SOCRMx+3T2017/ba4f7dff0e9d4e06bbcfd78bf79bdc99/
Pahl, R. (1978). School Leavers Study. South East: University of Kent at Canterbury. Faculty of Social Sciences.
Trochim, W. M. (20 de 10 de 2006). Qualitative Data . Obtenido de Research Methods Knowledge base: https://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/qualdata.php
Almost always we just refer to one single information source, whether for millennials is Twitter and Facebook, for baby boomers could be TV news and newspaper, and for Z generation they might video content posted in Instagram, Snapchat and different media apps. (Greenslade, 2015)
Usually you obtain the information and never look up more to prove if it is real or if the author is misleading some sort of information. When news producers or researchers publish any information, they often select what to report and how they report it, to make it catchy for the consumer.
By doing this selection and adaptation they can get to mislead what they are informing about.
Some of the usual errors researchers and content producers fall in, and us as consumers could believe when they might not be true are:
When finding startling news, we should have a critical reading to find out if the information is real or if the publication is pointing out something with another intention.
For example, in the article “Internet Surpasses Television as Main News Source for Young Adults” https://wow.serverfreak.com/2011/internet-main-news-source/ Published in the internet WOW website (Peters, 2011) explain how the internet surpasses television as a main news source. The research declares that the Internet has become the main national and international news source for people ages 18 to 29. The research was conducted among 1,500 adults from different age groups.
In this report, we can find different common errors from the listed before, or maybe we can’t see the complete research where it might have more information.
In this case, the errors we can find right away are the samples with the built-in bias since only 1,500 adults participated from a certain area where the study was conducted. Also, we don’t know if the study is statistical significant since it doesn’t show the complete information.
In my critical analysis I open some doubts about the validity of this information such as:
BibliographyEdinburghX: SOCRMx. (2017). EDx. Retrieved from Social Research Methods course: https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:EdinburghX+SOCRMx+3T2017/ba4f7dff0e9d4e06bbcfd78bf79bdc99/
Greenslade, R. (2015, July 22). How the different generations consume their daily news... Retrieved from The Guardian news: https://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2015/jul/22/how-the-different-generations-consume-their-daily-news
Peters, M. (2011). Internet Surpasses Television as Main News Source for Young Adults. Retrieved from WOW: https://wow.serverfreak.com/2011/internet-main-news-source/
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Choose one of the approaches you've explored in previous weeks, and write a reflective post in your blog that answers the following questions. Work though these questions systematically, and try to write a paragraph or two for each:
As mentioned on the previews blog post, a Focus Group is a type of in-depth interview accomplished in a group, whose meetings present characteristics defined with respect to the proposal, size, composition, and interview procedures. (FREITAS (H.), OLIVEIRA (M.), JENKINS (M.), and POPJOY (O.)., 1998).
The main purpose of a focus group research is to draw upon respondents’ attitudes, feelings, beliefs, experiences and reactions in a way in which would not be feasible using other methods. (Gibbs, 1997).
To better understand the practical use of Focus Groups here are some Q & A that might help you when assessing a research.
What does the clients like most about a product?
Which activities are best for children K-12 to learn English?
What does the public appreciate the most when going to X restaurant?
As you can see, these three questions could be answered by any research methods, but when using them at Focus Groups you can hear what each participant discuss about what they think is the best answer, and you can perceive attitudes, feelings, from them.
The interaction between participants highlights their view of the world, the language they use about an issue and their values and beliefs about a situation. (Kitzinger, 1994)
Usually this method can be used at the preliminary or exploratory stages of a study, it can be used as a method in its own or as a complement to other methods for validity checking.
An example of the use of focus groups is the study named: “Using focus groups to develop HIV education among adolescent females in Zimbabwe” (Munodawafa D., Gwede C., Mubayira C. , 1995)
In this study, the researchers developed focus groups with 78 girls from Zimbabwe to assess need for HIV/AIDS prevention and education. This research helped to develop ideas for future efforts in developing comprehensive AIDS prevention and education programs to target adolescent and adult males.
As said before we might notice that with the discussion at the mentioned focus groups, the researchers are able to develop the need of prevention education, identifying who needs it and in which specific subjects. Otherwise, we can see how the discussion guides to conclusions joining different perspectives. The ethical issues are also shown since girls that participate share what they know, and what they had experienced towards this topic.
Also, the AIDS Media Research Project (Kitzinger J. , 1994) used the focus group method to explore how media messages are processed by audiences and how understandings of AIDS are constructed. In this study, they conducted a total of 52 different discussions, with 351 participants. These discussions had a peculiarity, since they used pre-existing groups the discussion was easier and with deeper information, which gave an advantage to what the researcher obtained. This study was completed through survey information, in which they got the general information and through the focus groups they look to gather more details.
In my opinion, focus groups are a good first approach when developing a study or program. Having the opportunity to talk to people working or experiencing your question gives you a very near understanding of the specific issue.
Bibliography FREITAS (H.), OLIVEIRA (M.), JENKINS (M.), and POPJOY (O.). (1998). The Focus Group, a qualitative research method. ISRC, Merrick School of Business, University of Baltimore, 22.
Gibbs, A. (1997). Focus Groups. Department of Sociology, University of Surrey.
Kitzinger, J. (1994). The methodology of focus groups: the importance of interaction between research participants. Sociology of Health, 103-121.
Kitzinger, J. (1994). The methodology of Focus Groups: the importance of interaction between research participants. Sociology of Health & Illness Vol. 16 No. 1, 105-121.
Munodawafa D., Gwede C., Mubayira C. . (1995). Using focus groups to develop HIV education among adolescent females in Zimbabwe. Health Promotion 10 (2), 85-92.
A Focus Group is a type of in-depth interview accomplished in a group, whose meetings present characteristics defined with respect to the proposal, size, composition, and interview procedures. (FREITAS (H.), OLIVEIRA (M.), JENKINS (M.), and POPJOY (O.)., 1998). The use of focus groups carries advantages and disadvantages that could affect the qualitative research results.
To better understand how this qualitative research method is used, we analyzed a case study named: “Studying internationalization on campus” held by students from the University of Western Australia. In this case study, had the commitment to discover if the internationalization experiences a student lives by studying abroad, provides a similar benefit to the students in campus that interact with the foreign student.
With the aim of obtaining well-founded results, students designed a research project utilizing both focus groups and one-on-one interviews. These findings helped mitigate some disadvantages from both interviews and focus groups might present such as trying to generalize an observation by an interviewed response, or not giving voice to a particular group of people at a focus group.
At this project, students had to design and find the suitable questions to be used at the focus group and at the interview. The goal of a focus group is to generate discussion between the participants to get to know different perspectives, evaluate different ideas and develop new insights for which you need certain questions which encourage group dialog rather than individual responses. Unlike when you do an interview where what you’re looking for is to hear from the individual experiences.
As mentioned before, this research was held by students through two different methods, interview and focus group. As explained before, interviews to different actors have specific answers and conclusions from the interviewee. Meanwhile, focus group generate discussed conclusions in which all participants agree and participated with more openness than by itself. The example shown at the study case, refers to a conclusion that everyone by itself had about why local students didn’t engage with international students. At the interviews everyone blamed local students for their lack of interest. Otherwise at the focus group, they concluded why local students had lack of interest, a more helpful answer since gives you a root cause of the problem and specific action plans that can be developed.
Key findings from the focus group questions are encompassed in these three main themes:
As mentioned before, one of the key findings the students doing the research had, were that recruitment wasn’t as easy as they thought. They found out people is not willing to help on focus groups or activities in which they need to put effort on. Students underestimated the process that needs to be done to get a group of people big and committed enough to have a good research finished. In this case, students concluded that personal engagement and reminders where the best way to get a good focus group.
In conclusion, focus groups are a good qualitative research method which help researchers find out conclusions and ideas to implement further actions. When holding a focus group, a researcher should have: a very well-defined goal, with specific questions that propitiate discussion and look for conclusions from the participants and establish a well-done process to have a successful recruitment.
BibliographyFREITAS (H.), OLIVEIRA (M.), JENKINS (M.), and POPJOY (O.). (1998). The Focus Group, a qualitative research method. ISRC, Merrick School of Business, University of Baltimore, 22.
McKenzie, L & Baldassar, L 2017. 'Studying internationalization on campus: lessons from an undergraduate qualitative research project' [online]. SAGE Research Methods cases. https://methods.sagepub.com/case/srmpromo/KZsIeF/studying-internationalization-campus-undergraduate-qualitative-research
I am the national student affairs director for the university I work at. In this position I am responsible for designing the key elements that students should experience during their undergraduate studies. The student affairs team is conformed by the coordinators, who work directly with students, the national coordinator who supervise what is done on all campuses and me who design and look for new ideas to interest students.
I chose ethnography method since I will like to understand our students’ generation, how they think, and why they act as they act. With ethnography the basic idea is to share time with them, learn from them and observe to find answers to the question.
My basic question for this short research will be: What is the motivation of undergraduate students?
I decided to sit and walk where most of the students are regularly between classes and after school, to hear what they are talking about and if I can, talk with them about what they are thinking.
I am 27, and the students should be around 18 to 20 years old, I thought I didn’t look that old, so maybe they might trust on me to share what they think.
I tried this exercise for 2 days only. The first day, I was alone looking at everyone and everyone stopped chatting and stared at me as if I was a stranger, I think I was. They talked to each other, but they didn’t let me hear that much about what they were talking about. Girls often speak a bit louder and talk a lot about what school, places to visit in the weekend, boys, things they want to buy.
For the next day, I looked for an undergraduate student that I knew, so she could help me meet and talk to more students. So, I was with her and approached to a group of girls. I had to tell them that I was observing and they accepted, but I am sure they didn't talk all that they wanted. I could hear a bit more about what they liked and what they didn’t like about school, about homework, where they wanted to go in the weekend.
After two days of observation I am very curious and would like to keep hearing and understanding them more. I think I will try to be friends with them, and invite them to design with me some activities to understand more what they think and what they like.
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I just enrolled myself in a new course at EDx named: Introduction to Social Research Methods.
As part of my course I will be blogging about what I get to learn each week. I know very few about social research methods. I made my Master degree in Business Administration with a focus on Quality and Productivity, in my masters I had the opportunity to use more engineering research methods based on experiments.
I'm interested in this course because I have 2 years working for an education institution in Mexico and we've been dealing with knowing the best way to evaluate if our interventions with students are successful and accomplishing our mission or not.
The topics I will be assessing are: education research focused on intervention success. With this topic my initial questions are: Is our intervention needed? Is our intervention achieving what our hypothesis raises? Is anything else we could make to achieve our mission eliminating some variables?
In my opinion, and with the evaluation I made on the 1st week of the course I think well assessed qualitative methods with focus groups and ethnographic approach will be helpful for my objective.
In the past, I have used focus groups methods to gather qualitative information, but I’ve never used ethnographic methods for which I have bit more doubts.
In my opinion, the most important challenges I might face are time and resources required to establish a well-done research to find what we’re looking for but I know that a well assessed research will help on our findings and questions.
Since I am interested in education research methods, and because I am sure that many classmates are very ahead on research methods knowledge, I will begin to read the Research Methods and Methodologies in Education book proposed for the course.
I am wondering if there is any other classmate or person that will like to join on this journey to learn about social research methods.
Please comment if you’re interested 😊
See you on the next one!
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