Education as Change - Volume 6, Issue 1, 2002
Volume 6, Issue 1, 2002
Source: Education as Change 6 (2002)More Less
The theme of the annual Qualitative Research in Education conference at RAU in July 2001 was 'The Quality of Qualitative Research in Education'. All the articles in this edition of Education as Change were read at that conference. They all reflect in some way on what constitutes quality in a Qualitative Research paradigm. Ineke Buskens, for example defines this paradigm in terms of four types of quality: technical, usefulness, social responsibility and recognisability.
Fine lines or strong cords? Who do we think we are and how can we become what we want to be in the quest for quality in qualitative researchAuthor Ineke BuskensSource: Education as Change 6, pp 1 –31 (2002)More Less
The first part deals with the issue of quality in qualitative research. The qualitative research literature testifies to quality concerns amongst qualitative researchers, which can be grouped in three broad categories: technical quality, usefulness quality and social responsibility quality.
Author Louis Van NiekerkSource: Education as Change 6, pp 32 –42 (2002)More Less
Lacking adequate criteria by which to judge qualitative research as trustworthy, South Africans often grab at the concept of rigour, defined variously as "logical accuracy or exactitude". In so doing, they are guilty of naïve realism, that is an over reliance on sense data and, in his / her education, on the memorization of facts at the expense of critical analysis. To replace it the author argues to a hermeneutic approach to research, based on circular relationships of previous to new understanding, theory to practice, and text to context.
Author Hennie Van der MeschtSource: Education as Change 6, pp 43 –51 (2002)More Less
Identifying the weakness of poor qualitative research as lying in the absence of four, kinds of rigour, the author subjects each to critical scrutiny. Ontologically, qualitative researchers have only a limited understanding that reality is socially constructed. This is reflected in a lack of epistemological rigour with examination of subjective interpretation, interview methods and triangulation. Special care must be given to "thick" description, whilst, finally, scientific enquiry is increasingly under siege.
Teaching qualitative methodology for educational research : cultivating communities of deep learning practiceAuthor Elizabeth HenningSource: Education as Change 6, pp 52 –68 (2002)More Less
In this paper I argue for a deep, situated learning environment for students of qualitative research in education (QRE). I briefly sketch the characteristics of typical courses that are textbook-based, and which include only some practical exercises and classroom simulations as opportunities for "learning by doing". I argue that these may lead to a learning of methodology that suits pen and paper assessment on content and not to an understanding of QRE that will assist students to become novice researchers themselves via a "deep learning" path that engenders a disposition of inquiry. The paper claims that knowledge of qualitative methodology is essentially integrated, with conceptual, procedural, conditional and reflective knowledge linked by the experiential process of research-in-action and therefore as situated cognition. This means that learning has to be integrated as well, with experiential learning opportunities as essential pedagogical events. The difficulties of designing and implementing courses with a strong experiential learning base are then highlighted by means of a number of questions pertaining to student learning and also to educational and research ethics. I subsequently present a view of the research methodology course as educational space for both a community of learners and a community of practice, in which optimal research practice is obtained by authentic research experience and learning of principles, methods, techniques and philosophies concomitantly. The paper concludes with the challenge to supervisors to continue this learning pattern established in the coursework by spending time with students on discussion and exploration of methodological issues while they are conducting their dissertation research.
Source: Education as Change 6, pp 69 –84 (2002)More Less
In as far as Critical Emancipatory Qualitative Research is concerned, unlike in other forms of both qualitative and quantitative research, the issues of quality, role and function refer to the same process. Thus while this paper reflects on what constitutes quality in critical emancipatory qualitative research (CEQR), it at the same time refers to its role and function.<br> In order to concretize this reflection, the paper focuses on and draws examples from three CEQR works, namely one DEd thesis, evaluations of one MEd dissertation and reviews for publication of the joint paper we presented with a colleague to a conference in Oxford in 1999. These three research works provide bases for describing what constitutes CEQR and quality thereof. The position we are supporting is the one that sees quality in CEQR as grounded on research's social usefulness, on its relevance to the experienced needs of the people, on being able to respect methodological principles while being true to that which is personal and particular. Seeing quality this way clearly departs from understanding research as being about trustworthiness, or objectivity, or universalizing of findings, or neutrality or pursuance of science for its own sake.
The narrative in the paper proceeds by juxtaposing CEQR against other forms of research so as to explain clearly how quality is multiple and different depending on the paradigm one operates from within. For example, we interrogate quality of the mentioned DEd thesis by looking at whether it would have been possible to research and make the same rich findings as one did using CEQR, had the paradigm and methodology been different. We also look at one successful dissertation of one of our three MEd students who graduated in April 2001 against the background of evaluation reports of the external examiners who assessed him. This exercise assists us in reflecting on what constitutes quality in CEQR. Finally we interrogate the Oxford paper mentioned to above and refer to the views of reviewers who were assigned the task of commenting upon it when it was submitted for publication.
As we move towards the conclusion, we seem to be drawn to the understanding that when it comes to typically human activities like education, better research is the one that privileges social usefulness rather than objectivity. Better research is the one that goes all the way to the depth of meaning construction in pursuance of finding out what makes humans 'tick'. This is not the case for quantification that may provide broad patterns, but it is the case for quality that elicits and exhumes the buried depths of human understanding that do not necessarily generalize or universalize. This exercise has led us to come to the conclusion that research, especially CEQR, is about being truly human as a researcher rather than about reliability or validity per se. Just like quality or the truth, knowledge that research in general creates is multiple and inherently about relations of power especially where humans are involved. CEQR enables the researched in particular, the research community and the researchers in general to ask difficult questions about who controls research, in whose interest are certain kinds of knowledge produced, and so on. We are led to the findings that no other research enables the researched to use and recognize their voices better than CEQR. The question of quality in research therefore is whether it is an appropriate exercise to enable the researched to speak on their own behalf, in their own terms or just to enable the researchers to pursue knowledge for its own sake. The data in this paper convince us of the importance of the former.
Source: Education as Change 6, pp 85 –97 (2002)More Less
Learning and teaching research has for a long time ascribed unequal roles to researcher and researched. Recently, however, this situation has changed dramatically and teachers, the researched, have become equal partners to the researchers, usually academics at institutions of higher learning. This paper argues that these new roles and positions the two parties have to fulfill have to be negotiated continually. It describes a research project in which in-service teachers were engaged in using a powerful research tool, the narrative, as bargaining position. The paper points out that although teachers were enthusiastic about the narrative as research tool, their own narratives were used in a limited way because they failed to contextualise their experiences. As a result their narratives remained descriptive and not analytical, and consequently, showed limited prospects as research tools.
Author Trudie SteynSource: Education as Change 6, pp 109 –129 (2002)More Less
Demands for improved quality in education here led to a rapid paradigm shift. The incompatibility between emerging and current paradigms might be addressed, according to this paper, by adaptation of Total Quality Management (TQM), a successful business strategy, to teaching. The author researched four U.S. schools recognised for their quality education, and argues from the findings that although TQM is not a quick fix, it can provide an alternative to entrenched autocratic thinking about schools.
Author Brigitte SmitSource: Education as Change 6, pp 130 –145 (2002)More Less
In this paper, I discuss a variety of theoretical and conceptual dimensions of Atlas.ti (Muhr, 1994, 1997a, 1997b). I draw on my own Atlas.ti experiences, and discuss advantages and disadvantages of using computer aided qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS) (Lee and Fielding 1995). How can the quality of a research project be enhanced and how will the end product be affected? These are some questions I intend to answer.
Firstly, I will introduce Atlas.ti for qualitative data analysis. Secondly, I discuss how Atlas.ti, focusing on some coding procedures, (cf. Miles and Huberman 1994, and Dey 1993) supports a grounded theory approach for data analysis. Thirdly, I explain the VISE principles, visualisation, integration, serendipity and exploration as the main strategic modes of operation that may enhance the quality in the data analysis. Atlas.ti is a powerful workbench for qualitative data analysis, particular for large sections of text, visual and audio data. This software offers support to the researcher during the data analysis process. Texts are analised and interpreted using coding and annotating activities. It provides a comprehensive overview of the research project, the Hermeneutic Unit, and facilitates immediate search and retrieval functions. Atlas.ti also has a network building feature, which allows one to visually connect selected texts, memos, and codes by means of diagrams.