Term Paper: Verification of Interpretation -- Trustworthiness

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[. . .] The level of theory development may also indicate qualitative methods. When advanced theories exist to explain a group of phenomena, relationships and testable hypotheses can be generated and tested through controlled experimentation. Even if there are only focus areas and broad insights into the phenomena, directed assessments, evaluations, and co relational studies can be performed. If there is little to no theory, of it the theory is available is speculative or anecdotal, then descriptive studies are most useful. A useful

Qualitative Methods

Trochim (2002), "a qualitative approach is a general way of thinking about conducting qualitative research. It describes, either explicitly or implicitly, the purpose of the qualitative research, the role of the researcher, the stages of research, and the method of data analysis." According to Conger and Toegel (2002), case study methodology is categorized as a qualitative relatively than a quantitative research approach. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches are legitimate, but their appliance depends on the in general purpose of the research. Quantitative methods are typically one of two types: experiments or surveys. Often, there is a body of literature with defined variables which the quantitative researcher can test. Conger and Toegel noted that quantitative methods are "designed largely to capture a reality that is composed of concrete and objective structures & #8230; and far less effective at capturing interpretive dimensions" (p. 180). Qualitative research is more suitable in a situation where the research problem is not clear and is subject to explanation, the variables are unidentified, and the researcher spotlights on the background that controls the phenomenon (Creswell, 1994). Types of qualitative approaches include case study, ethnography, grounded theory, and phenomenological studies. These approaches often involve interviews, observations, and the study of documents or artefacts that yield both objective and subjective data (Creswell; Dyer, 1995).

Holton and Burnett (2005) stated that "one of the strengths of quantitative research method is its ability to provide inferable conclusion from a small representative sample" (p. 32). According to Rossman and Rallis (2003, p. 180), "in-depth interviewing is the hallmark of qualitative research." It is an opportunity to explore the "participants' worlds" and worldviews by having them share their experiences, ideas and understandings.

On technique is "interview guide approach" in which the researcher has categories and topics he wants to explore but is open to exploring other topics that the participant brings up instead of simply following a prepared set of questions (Rossman & Rallis, 2003, p. 181). "Interviewees were unwilling or uncomfortable sharing all that the interviewer hoped to explore" (Rossman & Rallis, 1998, p. 125).

Focus Group

Another important qualitative method is a focus group discussion. Focus groups are "an interview style designed for small groups" in which the atmosphere is structured to encourage participants to speak openly and freely about their behaviours, attitudes, and opinions (Berg, 2001, p. 111). Focus groups can be excellent opportunities for the participants to feed off of each others' ideas and can result in the exploration of a greater number of ideas and issues than are discussed in one-on-one interviews. Focus group interviews are often held when a "one shot collection" (Berg, 1998, p. 100) of information is necessary. During the focus group discussion researcher should attempt to "encourage discussion and the expression of differing opinions and points-of-view" (Rossman & Rallis, 2003, p. 193). For conducting qualitative research the note that "researchers supplement & #8230; interviewing & #8230; with gathering and analyzing documents produced in the course of everyday events or constructed specifically for the research at hand." (Marshall and Rossman,1999, p. 116)

As defined by Morgan (1997) a focus group is a group interview that relies on interaction between participants to produce data and insights on a topic selected and moderated by the researcher. This group was used as a supplementary source of data upon completion of the other methods of data collection (Morgan, 1997). Focus groups generally contain seven to ten people, but can range in size from four to twelve participants (Marshall & Rossman, 1999).

The choice of a qualitative design is based on Patton's (1990) assertion that the intent of qualitative research is to "provide perspective rather than truth, empirical assessment of local decision makers' theories of action rather than generation and verification of universal theories, and context-bound explorations rather than generalizations" (p. 491).

Case Study

Feagin, Orum, and Sjoberg (1991) defined a case study as "an in-depth, multi-faceted investigation, using qualitative research methods" (p. 2).A case is defined as a "single bounded system or an instance…" (Merriam 1988, p. 153); each participant serves as a specific case. Case studies allow an intensive, holistic, and in depth investigation of each teacher as a unit (Feagin et al. 1991; Merriam 1998; Stake 1995). Merriam's (1998) contention that a case study is more focused on process and context, perhaps the most important factor in the selection of a case study methodology is the Feagin et al. (1991) statement that case studies explore in detail the how and why of specific situations. Yin (1994) added that case studies are not only suitable for answering how, but also what.

Regarding qualitative research, Marshall and Rossman have noted that "there is no such thing as a perfectly designed study" and case studies are no exception to this rule (1999, p. 42). Case studies have a number of limitations; chiefly, a case is one instance of a "single bounded system or an instance…" and not representative of a certain population (Merriam 1988, p. 153). Moreover, case studies rely on descriptive information provided by researchers and participants, leaving room for the loss of important details and differing perceptions. Finally, much of the interpretation in case studies is based on the recollection of past events, and therefore is susceptible to problems inherent to memory.

Interviews

Patton (1990) stated that "qualitative interviewing begins with the assumption that the perspective of others is meaningful, knowable, and able to be made explicit" (p. 278). According to the research topic, interviews are designed to made participants' perspectives explicit by giving them an opportunity to explain themselves and their situations (Spradley 1979). Interviewing is "a powerful way to gain insight into educational issues through understanding the experience of the individuals whose lives constitute education" (Seidman 1991, p. 7).Much of the data generated from interviews as Patton's (1990) stated: "The raw data of interviews are the actual quotations spoken by interviewees. There is no substitute for these data." (p. 347)

Semi-structured as described on Patton's (1990) interview guide approach in which the format, topics, and issues are covered in a specified outline form, and the interviewer determines the order and the wording of each question. The interview guide allows for adjustments of each interview and participant. All interviews are recorded and transcribed by the researcher, and reviewed by the participant for accuracy (Lincoln & Guba 1985).

Surveys

Survey is recognized as the most commonly used means for collecting data in managerial research for exploring the nature, proceedings, and results within organizations that cannot be observed directly (Fowler, 2009; Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2003). As noted by Dillman (2000), the increased acceptance and use of surveys in organizational research has been associated with shifting societal attitudes, advancement in technology, increased emphasis on cost and efficiency, and a better understanding and mitigation of the errors that may be associated with surveys. Fowler (2009) argued that the purpose of survey is to produce statistics that are quantitative or to derive numerical descriptions about some aspects of the population of interest; it involves collecting information by asking questions to a small sample of the population under investigation (p. 1).

Cooper and Schindler (2008) noted that the strength of survey as a data collection instrument is its versatility; a few well-chosen questions can yield information that would otherwise take much more time and effort and a higher cost to gather any other way. Self administered Internet, email, mail and fax surveys administered with a return mechanism provides the added advantage of providing access to otherwise inaccessible participants, lower cost, requiring minimal staff, allowing participants time to think about the questions, appearing more anonymous, and rapid data collection (p. 223).

Cooper and Schindler (2008) described survey as "a measurement process used to collect information during a highly structured interview -- sometimes with human interviewer and other time without" according to them "the goal of survey is to derive comparable data across subsets of the chosen samples so that similarities and differences can be found" (p. 215).

The role of the researcher

The role of researcher in any qualitative study is to capture the reality and/or contexts the research subject inhabits. The researcher should become the human instrument for data collection and interpretation by having a theoretical sensitivity that creates an awareness of the subtleties of the data being collected and analyzed (Lincoln & Guba 1985). This theoretical sensitivity is demonstrated by the researcher's insights and ability to derive meaning from the data.

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