Qualitative research What is it? and How do you know if it’s quality?
What is truth = how to research • Remind/teach us? • The nature of truth and thus qualitative and quantitative research methods?
Several perspectives • Education as seen through the following lenses: • Positivist • School is an object of study which will lead to understanding the “laws of education” • Interpretative • School is a lived experience Can only be understood through experience and can’t be reduced to a set of abstract laws. • Critical research • School is a social institution designed to maintain the existing social order. • Which of these lenses are qualitative? • You want to understand why some students continue to study Spanish after the first year and others do not. • What is a research question that each of these lenses might ask about this topic?
Qualitative research: • Characteristics: • Understand from the insiders’ perspective (emic) • Researcher is the primary instrument for data collection and analysis. • Involves fieldwork. • Inductive research strategy. • Product is richly descriptive, i.e. lots of words and pictures.
What is an inductive research approach? • Inductive: • Experience What theory could explain this • Deductive • Stated theory find evidence for it.
Sample selection • What’s a sample? • It’s the people that participate in your study. • Quantitative = random, large sample • Qualitative = nonrandom, purposeful, small • Understand the effects of student-centered methods in language teaching • Half the classes are taught using student-centered methods, other half teacher centered. • Classes randomly assigned to receive either student centered or teacher centered instruction. All students take same test at end of semester. • Researcher observes some of both classes, intentionally selects 6 students to interview due to the variety of reactions each had to the instruction. • Which is qual. And quant.? • Why random sampling? • Why nonrandom?
Advantages and disadvantages • Qualitative research • You must be able to tolerate ambiguity • You must be able to make sense out of lots and lots of messy and often contradictory data. • You must be sensitive and intuitive. • You need to be a spiffy writer, able to make complex subjects clear and engaging. • You must be able to go beyond superficial analyses because obvious conclusions about common phenomena don’t need research. • Electronic versus face to face communication • While some features of the wiki appeared to increase collaboration, others seemed to create collaborative paradoxes in participants’ minds. For example, students frequently expressed delight at being able to work on the wiki composition, anytime and anywhere and some expressed that communication was “wiki-quick” and “instant.” Some also believed that the wiki fostered accountability since students and the teacher could easily determine who had contributed what to the assignment. • Ironically, however, other students expressed frustration at the lack of face to face communication while working on the wiki and pleasure with the relatively more frequent face to face communication on the paper composition. These students claimed that face to face communication fostered a sense of “accountability” and was more “instant.”
Valid and reliable • In Quantitative research,What is Validity? • Internal v. external • Internal validity • Are you measuring what you say you will measure? • External Validity • Can you make the generalizations you want to make?
Validity – Does this study have a problem with internal or external validity? • You do a study on teaching L2 writing with your high school students. Two teachers in your upper middle class high school are randomly asked to use the fancy method of L2 writing instruction and the other half are asked to use the great method of L2 instruction for a year. • You find that students receiving the Fancy Method significantly outperformed the students who received the great method. • You state that for all beginning language learners from childhood to adulthood for all languages the Fancy Method of L2 writing instruction is superior.
Quality control for qualitative research • You are interested in why some teachers in high school language classes are able to encourage students to speak frequently and freely while other teachers are not. • Ask a partner the following, • What are some things we could do as we carry out this study to increase the “Trustworthiness/Validity” of the study?
Validity and Reliability. . . Triangulation -Use a variety of instruments Member checking Long term or repeated observation Peer examination Participatory or collaborative State Biases of researchers Negative cases