Qualitative Research is a broad field of inquiry that primarily focuses on exploratory research

Description: Qualitative Research is a broad field of inquiry that primarily focuses on exploratory research. It is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, emotions, and motivations. It provides insights into the problem or helps to develop ideas or hypotheses for further research. Qualitative research uses unstructured data collections methods, such as observations, interviews, surveys and documents, to find themes and meanings to inform our understanding of the world. Qualitative research attempts to address reasons for behaviors, attitudes and motivations, instead of just the details of what, where and when. Qualitative research can be done across many disciplines, such as social sciences, healthcare and businesses. Focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, panel discussions are widely used data collection methods in the field of public health. For example, a researcher may organize a FGD to public health professionals to evaluate the potential impact of a public health policy recently passed.

Instruction and Guidelines and Rubric

Students will follow following steps

  1. (10 pts) Identify a research question and evaluate whether qualitative research is the right fit.
    1. Ideally, the research question should focus on exploring reasons for why people do certain things or believe in something.
    2. The research question should be narrowly defined within the scope of this assignment.
    3. The research question should answer ‘What/How’ for example: What kind of emotions and attitudes motivate individuals to take part in mass events?
  2. (20 pts) Conduct a brief literature reviewon the problem
  3. Sample size: usually a senior researcher and a statistician will determine the right sample size using certain parameters; however, for this assignment you will use a small convenient sample.
  4. (10 pts) Choose the research methodology:Compared to quantitative research methods, qualitative research is more flexible, and you can adopt from a number of accepted methodologies. Detailed description of each method is out of scope of this assignment, some are listed as following:
    1. Grounded Theory – it focuses on the development of a theory based on systematic data collection and analysis.
    2. Action Research – focuses on solving an immediate problem
    3. Ethnography – it describes a culture’s characteristics and study human interaction in communities
    4. Phenomenology – the study of the subjective experiences of others.
    5. Case Study– it describes in-depth experience of one person, family, group, community, or institution
    6. This link provides greater details of each method: http://www.umsl.edu/~lindquists/qualdsgn.html (Links to an external site.)
    7. For this assignment, students are encouraged to use, the simplest methodology, the case study method.
  5. (30 pts) Data collection:Qualitative research methodologies usually use more than one data collection techniques; however, for this assignment students will use one technique from the the followings:
    1. Direct observation: research participant is directly observed/recorded or vide taped.
    2. Participant observation: researcher also participate in the activity with the research participants and observe them. For example, a researcher takes a job as a waiter to observe waiting staff in a restaurant.
    3. In-depth- Interview: questions are asked from the research participant(s) regarding his/her experiences/feelings/emotions or opinion regarding the research topic.
    4. Focus group discussion: an open discussion is conducted with a group of people regarding an issue.
  6. (30 pts ) Data analysis and writing report:the main focus is on textual analysis. Following are some common techniques used in qualitative research. There are software, such as Atlas.ti, that can be used for this purpose. For this assignment, a flip-chart method will be used.
    1. Coding: a code is assigned to reoccurring words/phrases to make counting easy.
    2. Descriptive Statistics: study sample, usually FGD participants, are described i.e. male, female etc.
    3. Narrative analysis: Narrative analysis focuses on speech and content, such as grammar, word usage, metaphors, story themes, meanings of situations, the social, cultural and political context of the narrative
    4. Content analysis: Content or semiotic analysis looks at texts or series of texts and looks for themes and meanings by looking at frequencies of words. We try to identify structures, patterned regularities in the verbal or written text, and then make inferences based on these regularities. For example, maybe you find the same words or phrases, like “second chance” or “make a difference,” coming up in different interviews with second career teachers and decide to explore what this frequency might signify.
    5. Write report: usually important ‘quotes’ verbatim are presented in the report when summarizing the findings of your research
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