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5. A reflective researcher with skills in:
(b) Conducting research

Andrews University

Name:

David Heise

Student No:

86197

Course:

EDRM 605 Introduction to Qualitative Research

Assignment:

Qualitative Research WebQuest

Due Date:

Monday, July 5, 1999

Qualitative Research WebQuest

Contents

  1. What is research? Visit Bobbi's Place and read the dialogues and summarize from what you found.
  2. Take the Qualitative/Quantitative Quiz and record your answers.
  3. Read Prudence Merton's study and identify which qualitative methods were used in the study. What is the nature of the relationship horticultural educators have with their plants? Find another study anywhere on the Internet and evaluate it using Eisner's criteria.
  4. Visit the QualPage and find one conference you could attend this school year. Why would you want to attend this conference?
  5. Look through the links on my Qualitative Research page and identify one site you would use again and explain why.
  6. Preview my qualitative samples and raise five questions you have about data collection, analysis, and/or representation techniques.

1. What is research? Visit Bobbi's Place [1] and read the dialogues and summarize from what you found.

There is a wealth of information about research in William Trochim's Research Methods Knowledge Base. In the page describing "Five Big Words", Trochim makes it clear that there is no simple answer to the question, "What is research?":

"Research involves an eclectic blending of an enormous range of skills and activities."[2]

Words like "ontology, epistemology, methodology and other assumptions"[3] and "hermeneutics, phenomenological sociology, and the Vertehen tradition..., ethnography, case study research, naturalistic inquiry ethnomethodology, life history methodology, narrative inquiry"[4] make me feel that I may need to put on a new skin even to begin to understand what this is about!

To research is to "investigate, study, explore, delve into, examine", according to my word processor's thesaurus.

A number of postings to the Qualitative Research List attempt to list characteristics that must be present in order for an approach to be called research. The following list is a compilation:

"It's not research if it lacks ...

  1. a question or questions to be answered;

  2. a methodological framework or frameworks which is/are ethically defensible;
  3. a theoretical framework or frameworks;
  4. empirically validated evidence which has emerged in pursuit of 1 above;
  5. a contribution to epistemology.
  6. a concern for the context surrounding the phenomenon/phenomena being investigated;
  7. active listening careful observation and accurate data recording procedures;
  8. the capacity to ensure data validation via one or more research/inquiry procedures;
  9. a willingness to follow new leads and to explore fresh pathways.
  10. a clear set of answerable questions designed to address a specific problem
  11. a clear exposition of key assumptions, and the rationale for the decisions taken in every aspect of, and at every stage of the work, from the initial idea through to the format chosen for reporting and disseminating
  12. linguistic clarity and simplicity, especially with definitions; as little as possible should be assumed about the reader sharing allegiance to a particular definition of, for example, 'data', 'triangulation', 'understanding', 'validity' etc.
  13. systematic and deep examination of data
  14. unflinching honesty" [5]

Paul Sharkey started an interesting thread by asking about the problem-solving aspect of research:

"Does research always need to be problem oriented? Problem seems to connote something that needs to be fixed." [6]

As other respondents pointed out, the word problem can be defined quite broadly, for example: intellectual puzzle, focus, organizing principle or criterion. Just a few days ago, I came across a similar discussion in a book I was reading on Problem Solving, which was directly relevant to a statement in a leadership style questionnaire I was doing. I had to indicate my degree of agreement with this statement:

"I show that I am a firm believer in 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.'"

This is normally a good philosophy to follow in the area of software maintenance, but in service areas, the name of the game is improvement. The book I am reading is written by Roger Allen and Stephen Allen. It uses Winnie-the-Pooh characters and stories to develop its message. On page 208 of the book, Owl says, "I frequently see in the paper where companies are improving their costs in a particular area, or are developing an improved version of their product even though there was nothing wrong with the old one."[7] The author's point is that their "SOLVE" method can be applied to problems where something is broken and has to be fixed, as well as to things that are working well but could be made better. "SOLVE" is an acronym for:

Select the Problem or Situation
  Observe, Organize, and Define the Problem or Situation
  Learn by Questioning All Parts of the Problem
  Visualize Possible Solutions, Select One, and Refine It
  Employ the Solution and Monitor Results

2. Take the Qualitative/Quantitative Quiz and record your answers.

Identify the following as related to either qualitative or quantitative research: [8]

Type?

Statement

Qualitative Quantitative

1. A study which the researcher carefully designs all aspects of the study before actually collecting any data.

Qualitative Quantitative

2. You know in advance what you are looking for.

Qualitative Quantitative

3. The design emerges as the study unfolds.

Qualitative Quantitative

4. How do teachers in special education classes react to distance learning.

Qualitative Quantitative

5. What is the relationship between time spent on the simulator and operator error rate?

Qualitative Quantitative

6. The researcher deals with data in the form of words.

Qualitative Quantitative

7. The researcher deals with data in the form of numbers and statistics.

Qualitative Quantitative

8. The investigator is the data gathering instrument.

Qualitative Quantitative

9. Research methods involve the comparison of pre-test and post-test data.

Qualitative Quantitative

10. Data collection and data analysis take place simultaneously.

If you are submitting from off campus, enter your name:

3. Read Prudence Merton's study and identify which qualitative methods were used in the study. What is the nature of the relationship horticultural educators have with their plants? Find another study anywhere on the Internet and evaluate it using Eisner's criteria.

3.1 Qualitative Methods Used

3.2 The relationship

The relationships horticultural educators have with plants were classified into five different categories, although participants spanned more than one category to a greater or lesser degree. The relations that were identified were:

  1. Naturalistic - the intimate experience of plants
  2. Professional/Utilitarian - plants as livelihood
  3. Moralistic - sharing the environment
  4. Aesthetic - plants are beautiful
  5. Symbolic - special plants and their meaning

Something all these categories seemed to have in common is that the educators all had a relationship with their plants that they valued at a personal level. This confirms the statement made in the Introduction: "Anyone who gardens knows intimately that working with plants promotes well-being."[9]

3.3 Eisner's evaluation criteria

(This is very brief.)

Title:

Strategic management decision support for a firm in pursuit of the displaced ideal utilizing data envelopment analysis and entropy

Author:

Velayas, James Michael

Degree:

Ph.D.

Year:

1992

Abstract:

A firm engaged in competition with other firms is constantly evolving as it pursues its goal of maximizing shareowner wealth. This evolution can be thought of as the firm pursuing the goal of becoming the ideal firm. An ideal firm would be one that embodies all of the superior characteristics of the firms that are in competition with one another. Clearly, with the passage of time firms become more efficient and effective in the pursuit of their goal. So as the firms change so does the ideal firm's characteristics. The purpose of this research is to develop a procedure and illustrate the use of data envelopment analysis (DEA) and entropy as analytical techniques in providing strategic guidance to the firm. The information provided by the companies evaluated under this procedure will originate from the companies' annual reports. This research will use the set of the seven publicly traded Bell Holding Companies in the formation of the empirical database. The database will be used to illustrate the procedure developed in this research. The database will contain financial and operational information concerning each firm's performance. Then this information will be linked with DEA and entropy measures and will provide a normative framework upon which each firm's decision makers can determine the direction they wish to follow in pursuit of the ideal. The analysis will be conducted based upon the publicly available information contained in the seven companies' annual reports during the years 1984 through 1989. Additionally a qualitative dimension will be incorporated into the study to provide additional insight. This research will present the value of DEA and entropy being linked together as a procedure to assist in the strategic management of the firm. The ability to apply these two nontraditional analytical methods in providing strategic direction to the firm will be shown to be a valuable managerial asset.

  1. Field focused
    There is a purpose statement that names the particular techniques that will be used.
  2. Self as an instrument
    I do not see this here.
  3. Interpretive character - account for and interpret
    Identifying "superior characteristics" and judging which ones and to what degree would be interpretive.
  4. Use of expressive language
    The bulk of the dissertation is probably quantitative, with a "qualitative dimension" to "provide additional insight." The interpretation of the analytical data to give this insight no doubt relies on expressive language.
  5. Attention to particulars
    Everything about this abstract suggests that details are considered to be of the utmost importance, at the raw data level, in the application of the analytical techniques, and in the application to management in making strategic decisions to gain competitive advantage.
  6. Coherence, insight, and instrumental utility
    The dissertation specifically mentions that insights will be provided, and that the application of these analytical methods will prove to be valuable to management.

4. Visit the QualPage [10] and find one conference you could attend this school year. Why would you want to attend this conference?

I may have to visit this page again after July. I do not want to attend a conference with a single focus on health or education as several of these have, and most of them take place in July 1999, which rules them out anyhow.

One possibility is Advances in Qualitative Methods 2000: Creating Possibilities, Auckland, New Zealand, January 24-28, 2000, but New Zealand is a long way to travel. However, the variety of approaches being explored could mean there will be sessions that I would find relevant and helpful.

"the conference will not be limited to a specific health focus and will include contributions from other human science disciplines as well as health. Qualitative approaches will be explored that are being developed in social anthropology, women's/feminist studies, sociology, psychology, social geography, education, indigenous people's studies, political science and history." [11]

As I finally get around to completing this course on Qualitative Research, this conference is now long in the past. However, there is another conference - Research Management & Development being held at the same institution (Auckland Institute of Technology)

This conference is intended for staff of Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education and agents from Business, Industry and Community Groups. These include Vice-Chancellors, Pro and Deputy Vice-chancellors (Research and Development), Deans and Directors of Postgraduate Studies, Research Managers, Research Co-ordinators, Research Consultants, Research Librarians, Researchers, Supervisors, Academic Developers and Postgraduate Students.

Conference sub-themes for abstracts are:

Research Management and Development

5. Look through the links on my Qualitative Research page (on local server) and identify one site you would use again and explain why.

(I have listed four sites, not one.)

(a) Links to Qualitative Research from the University of Saskatchewan
      http://www.usask.ca/education/coursework/links/qualres.htm
      Bibliographic Formats for Citing Electronic Information: APA, MLA

I will return to this site to check out Bibliographic Formats for Citing Electronic Information.

(b) The QualPage: from the University of Alberta
      http://www.ualberta.ca/~jrnorris/qual.html
I will return to this page to check out conference announcements.

(c) I may want to check the sites with software links at some point:
Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software
      http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/qual-software.html
The Ethnograph Web Site: Software for Qualitative Research
      http://www.qualisresearch.com/
Qualitative Research Information
      http://www.uwm.edu/~brodg/qualres.htm

(d) Qualitative Research List of Web Sites
      http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/web.html

There is a wealth of links on this page that I will want to check out. I am looking for cases where some kind of qualitative research approach is used to study business change resulting from decision support information provided via data warehousing.

6. Preview my qualitative samples [13] and raise five questions you have about data collection, analysis, and/or representation techniques.

6.1 Representation techniques

I believe that graphical representations, along with descriptive text, are very powerful in helping to make concepts and meanings clear. This is obviously true in helping to understand trends and make comparisons with numerical data. Data visualization software is an integral part of making a data warehouse successful. But diagrams can also be useful tools in explaining relationships and concepts in other ways also. I hope to be able to represent some of what my studies will reveal via diagrams. Is this reasonable?

6.2 Why use a Qualitative Research approach in an Information Systems area?

Data warehousing is driven mostly by numerical data, which seems to indicate a quantitative research approach. However, I am thinking that my research is likely to be more qualitative, such as the social/cultural issues surrounding the introduction of data warehousing, its impact on decision making, and its relation to change process.

I am drawn to examples such as those by Glenda-mae Greene, not because of their familiarity, but because of their strangeness, and the way they use words to create pieces of art. I feel enlarged when I read them.

6.3 Data Collection and Venn Diagrams

I feel that Venn Diagrams can be a powerful way of classifying findings, and finding the essence of meaning in the data. During Orientation last year, I was introduced to this technique as a way to narrow a field of search. I would like to be able to use it in my data collection and analysis also.

Venn Diagram intersection

I am interested in the use of Data Warehousing to provide improved Decision Support in Higher Education, and in the changes that can be attributed to that improved Decision Support. I entered the three phrases shown in the above Venn diagram in a search on the OCLC Dissertation Abstracts Online! database, to see what research had been done in this area. The shaded area represents records found that match all three search criteria. However, in searches I did, no records were found in the shaded area.

6.4 Journaling

I have written into my IDP in a number of places that I will write a reflective journal on books I have read, courses I have taken, conferences I have attended, etc. But this is not something I do naturally. I need to learn how to do it effectively. You have some valuable links in Qualitative Samples -> Data Collection Techniques -> Journal Writing that I need to study.

Here are links to some of the places where I have said I would write reflective journals in my portfolio:

My Journaling Links

6.5 Analysis of Themes

I find that tables help me a lot to organize and present analytical findings (see my Tabular Analysis of the interview we did in our group activity for this course). Are there other ways of doing this that I could apply in my research?

Bibliography

[1] Kerlins, Bobbi. Bobbi's Place.
Retrieved 20-Jun- 2004
URL: http://kerlins.net/bobbi/research/qualresearch/what.is.research.html

[2] Trochim, William M. The Research Methods Knowledge Base, 2nd Edition
Retrieved 20-Jun- 2004
URL: http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/

[3] Elery. Postings to Qualitative Research List
Retrieved July 4, 1999 (not found January 3, 2002)
URL: http://www.irn.pdx.edu/~kerlinb/qualresearch/research.html
URL: http://kerlins.net/bobbi/qualresearch/research.html, the new address, also not found.

[4] Schwandt, Thomas. Qualitative Inquiry: A Dictionary of Terms (taken from Shirley Freed's Syllabus at
URL: http://www.andrews.edu/~freed/60599.htm, or on local server)

[5] Compiled from various contributors. Postings to Qualitative Research List
Retrieved July 4, 1999 (not found on January 3, 2002)
URL: http://www.irn.pdx.edu/~kerlinb/qualresearch/research.html
URL: http://kerlins.net/bobbi/qualresearch/research.html, the new address, also not found.

[6] Sharkey, Paul. Postings to Qualitative Research List.
Retrieved July 4, 1999 (not found on January 3, 2002)
URL: http://www.irn.pdx.edu/~kerlinb/qualresearch/research.html
URL: http://kerlins.net/bobbi/qualresearch/research.html, the new address, also not found.

[7] Allen, Roger E. and Allen, Stephen D. Winnie-the-Pooh on Management & Problem Solving. 1998, page 208, 341
London, Methuen, 1998. ISBN# 0 416 19513 X

[8] Qualitative versus Quantitative
Retrieved 20-Jun- 2004
URL:http://edweb.sdsu.edu/Courses/Ed690DR/Class01/QvsQ.html

[9] Merton, Prudence. What is the nature of the relationship horticulture educators have with plants?
Retrieved 20-Jun- 2004
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthknd/merton/toc.html

[10] Norris, Judy. QualPage: Resources for Qualitative Research
Retrieved 20-Jun- 2004
URL: http://www.qualitativeresearch.uga.edu/QualPage/

[11] Advances in Qualitative Methods 2000: Creating Possibilities
Retrieved July 4, 1999 (not found on January 3, 2002)
URL: http://www.ait.ac.nz/news/conf/qual2000/about.htm

[12] Research Management & Development
Retrieved 20-Jun- 2004
URL: http://www.aut.ac.nz/conferences/innovation/

[13] Freed, Shirley. Qualitative Research Samples
Retrieved January 3, 2002 (not found 20-Jun-2004)
URL: http://www.andrews.edu/~freed/QualResearch/Home.html


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Created: Sunday, July 25, 1999 05:51 PM
Last Modified: Monday, September 28, 2009 5:17 PM