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Naturalistic Inquiry: Methods of Qualitative Analysis Recurring Features, Multiple Approaches & Analytic Method E. Ayn Welleford, PhD, VCU Department of Gerontology Recurring Features of Qualitative Method Qualitative Research • Is Naturalistic • Is conducted through an intense and/or prolonged contact with a “field” or life situation • Typically involves normal day to day experiences, reflective of everyday life of individuals, groups, societies, and organizations. • Requires that the researcher gains a “holistic” (systematic, encompassing, integrated) overview of the context under study:its logic, arrangements, explicit or implicit rules Recurring Features of Qualitative Research Qualitative Research • Attempts to capture data “from the inside” through – Deep attentiveness – Empathetic understanding – Suspending or “bracketing” preconceptions about the topics under discussion • Directs the researcher to isolate certain themes and expressions that can be reviewed with informants, but must be maintained in their original forms throughout the study. Recurring Features of Qualitative Research Primary task: explicate the ways people in particular settings come to understand, account for, take action, and otherwise manage their day-to-day situations. Recurring Features of Qualitative Research Interpretation… ah, the big question! Many interpretations are possible but some are more compelling for theoretical reasons or on grounds of internal consistency Recurring Features of Qualitative Research Qualitative Research – Involves the researcher as a measurement device – Involves little standardized instrumentation • Participant directed • Emergent process – Involves mostly analysis of text data • Words are organized to permit the researcher to compare, contrast, analyze, and bestow patterns. Three Approaches to Qualitative Data Analysis Interpretivism – Phenomenologists are looking for the deep understanding – Capturing the essence of an account – “interpretation” of the account by the actors and the researcher – Require that researcher is no more detached than the informants – Often difficult to separate interviewer from interviewee – Phenomenlogists generally do not use coding – Semiotics, deconstructivism, aesthetic criticism, ethnomethodologists Three Approaches to Qualitative Data Analysis Social anthropology – Ethnographers focus on extended contact within a given community, looking for “patterns”, or “rules” – Description of local particularities, individuals’ perspectives and interpretations of their world – Uses multiple data sources (language, artifacts, diaries) – Condense the data with less concern for conceptual or theoretical meaning than observation Three Approaches to Qualitative Data Analysis Social anthropology – Many social anthropologists are interested in the genesis or refinement of theory and may begin with a conceptual framework and field test – Cross-cultural theory in socialization, parenting, and kinship has resulted from field research – Life history, Grounded theory, ecological psychology, narrative studies, wide range of family studies follow this line Three Approaches to Qualitative Data Analysis Collaborative social research – Action research is a general strategy for institutional change. • Researcher, with local help, design a “field experiment” (e.g., changing the offerings in a cafeteria, redesigning staffing of a unit, student evaluations, program evaluation) • Date are collated and given to the “activists” both as feedback and to craft the nest stage of operations Three Approaches to Qualitative Data Analysis Collaborative social research – Collaborative action research • Researchers join closely with the participants from the outset • The aim is the transform the social environment through a process of critical inquiry – to act on the world rather than being acted on. • Critical ethnography, action science Analytic Methods Affixing codes to field note drawn from observations or interviews Noting reflections or other remarks in the margins Analytic Methods Sorting to identify similar phrases, relationships between variables, patterns, themes, distinct differences between subgroups, and common sequences Isolating patterns and processes, commonalities and differences, and taking them out to the field in the next wave of data collection Analytic Methods Gradually elaborating a small set of generalizations that cover the consistencies discerned in the database Confronting those generalizations with a formalized body of knowledge in the form of constructs and theories Analytic Methods: Specific to Grounded Theory Method Theoretical Sampling Constant comparison Generative & concept relating questions Conceptual integration Member checks Peer review Analytic Methods: Specific to Grounded Theory Method The object of grounded theory is to discover or validate a conceptual framework that explains the scene being investigated. Grounded Theory Method: Fit, Grab, & Work To Fit, means that the categories that are generated must be indicated by the data and applied readily to the data To have Grab, a theory must be relevant to the participant group and the practice group. To work, a theory should be able to explain what happened, predict what will happen and interpret what is happening Analytic Methods Data collection Data reduction Data display Drawing & verifying conclusions Process of Constant Comparative Analysis Sources Stage 1 Data Incidents Coding Stage 2 Categories/Properties/ Memos Stage 3 Concepts/Propositions/ Stage 4 Memos Theory Source: Pickler, R.H. 1990 Strengths of Qualitative Data Focus on naturally occurring, ordinary events in natural settings Local groundedness Case based Richness & holism “thick descriptions” Sustained period of analysis Strengths of Qualitative Data Assess causality Flexibility - “emergent design” Discovering the meanings of lived experience Connecting meaning to the social world Strengths of Qualitative Data Develop hypotheses Test hypotheses Supplement, validate, explain, illuminate, or reinterpret quantitative data Weaknesses of Qualitative Analysis Lengthy process Stigma & Misunderstanding of qualitative method Application to your work? Jim Birren states that Gerontology as a field is data rich but theory poor. How does this relate to the need for qualitative exploration? Can you see a use for qualitative data analysis in your work?
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