Friday, September 11, 2015
Week #2: Qualitative Research
Teachers are concerned about providing the best education they can to the students they teach. We are concerned about how we can best help our students learn. We know our students and usually have many ideas on ways to try to help them. Qualitative research allows a teacher or any person to collect data in a way that fits the needs they see. According to Merriam in Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation, “Basically, qualitative researchers are interested in understanding the meaning people have constructed; that is, how people make sense of their world and the experiences they have in the world” (Merrian, pp. 15). This allows teachers to be more subjective than they would be in quantitative research. As teachers we care about what is happening in the classroom so we can’t completely be objective anyway. This makes qualitative research an ideal way to collect data on students.
A key point of qualitative research according to Woods (2006) is that “researchers are interested in life as it is lived in real situations.” I think this is a key reason why qualitative research is a good lens for classroom research. There is no magic bullet that fits every situation, so every situation will be different. This allows teachers to research according to their needs, and to change their research if they find it to be necessary. I find this to be a huge advantage because I am constantly changing the way I do things in my classroom. With living in bush Alaska, I frequently get to travel to other villages for sports or other activities. This allows me to connect with other teachers, and to see how things work in their classrooms. I am always getting new ideas or expanding on current practices, as well as, sharing my ideas with other teachers.
The main problem that I see, and was discussed in the reading, is that because we can change what or how we research we may not be very objective. This could make our data not as reliable as if we had done the research otherwise. I found it very interesting to read about perspectives. It was hard at first for me to decipher where I might fit. I think a post positivist perspective may fit my world views the best. According to Trochim’s (2006) discussion of positivism and postpositivism, I find that we can study more than what we can see, and that knowledge is not absolute.
From reading all of the perspectives and trying to determine my own, I find that how we view the world may influence our research. Because we determine what data to collect and how to collect it, our own views may determine what we look for. This may not always be a bad thing, but it could be hard to sort out how reliable our data is without an outside perspective. I think it will be very important to ask for outside knowledge when conducting my own research.
Merriam, Sharan B.; Tisdell, Elizabeth J. (2015). Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation (JOSSEY-BASS HIGHER & ADULT EDUCATION SERIES) (p. 15). Wiley. Kindle Edition.
Trochim, W. (2006). Positivism & Post-Positivism. Retrieved September 12, 2015, from http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/positvsm.php
Woods, P., & Pratt, N. (2006). Qualitative Research. Retrieved September 11, 2015, from http://www.edu.plymouth.ac.uk/resined/qualitative methods 2/qualrshm.htm