Take some time to REALLY think about what you believe you know about qualitative research after last week’s discussion and the video tonight. What were your misconceptions? What are challenges that come out of your past knowledge vs. the new? How will you take this forward into your research work?
After reviewing the qualitative research methods over the past couple weeks, I still have a lot to learn about all of the intricacies of this process. I had my first introduction to qualitative analysis this past semester. I have many years of experience with quantitative analysis in an industrial environment, where I collected process data, analyzed it, then created charts that depicted process defects and corrective action changes. I refer to this process as measurement and analysis (rack-and-stack). This type of processes are seen throughout many businesses and industry.
I reviewed the presentation posted for this week. I learned a lot from its content. There are some areas that I still need to gain further understanding. One of the key benefits is that it provides a roadmap into the qualitative analysis process. I now understand the difference between the Positivist and Non-Positivist qualitative process approaches. The qualitative research project that I am currently involved with will focus on the Non-Positivist process as I am focused on the subjective nature of how instructional designers approach and validate their course designs.
Since I have worked at the company for many years, I do have some preconceived opinions concerning the various course designs. Based on my understanding, I align with the ‘Reality’ sections Option A, where there is an objective reality, but I don’t see where anyone can gain a complete understanding of all that is involved in the process (ontological). However, each of the interviewees have indicated an agreement that there are gaps in the design, development, delivery and effectiveness of their courses (epistemology). Once I complete the coding along with two other professors, I’m anxious to see how my preconceived biases align with the results of the qualitative analysis.
I have developed a list of six interview questions that were given to six instructional designer participants. There were several additional questions related to their professional experience. I am currently in the process of coding each of their responses. I was not allowed to make audio and video recordings of the interview process, which placed limitations on the research study. I think that I captured much of the perceptions, feelings, opinions, and thought of the participants.
The design of the six interview questions was based on a course evaluation set of questions that are given to students at the conclusion of each training class. The course evaluation consisted of 23 Likert Scale type questions, in eight categories. The six questions that I created were a condensed version of those 23 evaluation questions. These six questions provide an overview synopsis of a course evaluation. The approach taken was what I refer to as a reverse engineering of the end of the course looking back to the design of the course. Overall, these six questions are a representation of the instructional designer’s efforts to design and develop each of their courses.
The topic of inquiry focuses on the approach that the instructional designer takes when designing the course. The six questions helped to answer the what, how, where, and who questions that are part of the topic of inquiry process. Being the ‘researcher as instrument’, I have considered two of the questions noted: what do I think I already know about the topic, and what is my subjective bias about the topic? Since I have taken many courses at work for professional development and for required compliance training, I have formed some subjective biases. I don’t feel that these biases have influenced the interview questions created for this research study. The reason for my assessment is that the interview questions were developed directly from the evaluation instrument discussed earlier.
In order to establish the credibility of my research I will be incorporation three of the triangulation processes noted. These are as follows:
- Member checks – once I completed the initial interview process, I transcribed my hand-written field notes into a Word document. I conducted a follow up meeting with each of the participants to review the transcribed document. I made updates and revisions based on their follow up responses.
- Multiple coders – I am in process of coding each of the participants responses to the interview questions. I will obtain additional inputs from 1-2 other coders in order to confirm, expand, or eliminate my coding entries.
- Field notes – I have transcribed all of my hand-written field notes into Word documents. In order to assist with the next phases of the qualitative analysis process, I will transcribe all of the Word document content into an Excel spreadsheet. This will enable better collaboration between coders and the final analysis.
My understanding of the coding analysis will be the use of a ‘constant-comparative analysis’ process, which will help to identify knowledge, skills, concerns, and opinions of the instructional designers.
After completing the qualitative analysis, I will need to write an article about the findings. In addition, I will need to create a presentation, which will include and executive summary of my findings, to be delivered to my professors as well as the instructional design participants and their managers. I hope the final qualitative analysis report will provide concrete suggestions for instructional design process improvements. The most important outcome is that I hope to better understand how to conduct effective qualitative research studies for my current Ph.D. and post-academic research studies.
One of the key benefits that is afforded to each Ph.D. student is the availability of tools that provide guidance, checks and balance in research endeavors. The concept where each new researcher builds on the shoulders of giants, is accomplished when the right tools are available that enhance the capabilities of the researcher. Otherwise the researcher is left to spend an inordinate amount of time developing the tools instead of focusing on the research.
With each Ph.D. course that I take, I’m looking for the tools that enable me to be an effective researcher. In both of the qualitative research courses that I have taken, I want to be sure I understand and have performed all of the steps necessary to gain the right experience to conduct qualitative research. If possible, I hope that the content of these courses can serve as a foundation for future offerings of these courses. There needs to be a balance between the understanding of the foundational history and theory, but the hands-on experience is what’s needed for an effective outcome.