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EDUC.6922: Qualitative Research Methods for Practitioner Scholars

Research Design

Initiating research requires extensive preparation, both in thought processes and in logistics. In weeks 3 and 4, you will read about: 

  • articulating a personal stance
  • considering who and what to study
  • devising your research questions
  • considering the time, place, and participants for your research
  • ethical considerations in research
  • seeking ethical approval from an institutional review board (IRB)


Considerations for planning qualitative research

  • Qualitative research projects are bounded or focused by issues related to the problem and field, as well as issues related to theoretical or methodological stance.
  • Qualitative researchers are informed about the content of their studies, but may aim to hold that knowledge aside at various points in their study as they seek to achieve an insider's understanding of the issue.
  • Qualitative researchers rely upon a broad range of digital tools to conduct their work - from initiation to completion.
  • Team based qualitative research, which is on the rise, brings new models and challenges to research design.


Personal Stance and Positionality

Educational Consultant Mylene Culbreath explains positionality. 

Framing the study: Identify the phenomenon

Identifying the "who" or "what" of the study. 

The participants are not necessarily the "who" unless the participants are the topic; remember, we are studying a phenomenon.

Developing Research Questions

Nova Southeastern University professor of education Abraham Fishler provides this slideshow to show the process for forming research questions. 

Time, Place, Participants

Selecting participants in qualitative research differs from the sort of random sampling researchers may employ in quantitative research. Often, we select participants based on particular qualities or experiences. Protecting participants is as important as selecting participants. In part 3 of a 6 part discussion, Fiona Holland and James Elander from the University of Derby discuss factors involved in choosing participants for a qualitative research project.

Carol Gilligan on Moral Development

Carol Gilligan is the author of the landmark feminist book In A Different Voice (1982).  Here, she talks about the starting point for her psychological research, noticing in her class that the psychological theories at the time were not reflecting men's or women's experiences accurately. As she conducted her research in Boston she realized, "It was listening to other women that focused, for me, what was the problem with these theories that weren't representing women or men accurately." One reason her book was so influential was that it demonstrated that existing theories of morality could not be generalized to all men or all women, illuminating the importance of researchers listening to different voices. 

If you cannot access the above video, you can watch it here