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PGwT Workshop University of Salford 2nd December 2009


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Title: PGwT Workshop University of Salford 2nd December 2009

PGwT WorkshopUniversity of Salford2nd December
Teaching Qualitative Methods

  • Dr. Siobhan Hugh-Jones

  • Institute of Psychological Sciences

  • University of Leeds


Workshop Aims
  • i) to identify what aspects of qualitative
    psychology are important for undergraduate
    students to understand
  • to develop your skills in teaching interviewing
  • to develop your skills in teaching IPA
  • to be more aware of the ways in which the quality
    of student work can be progressed
  • To introduce you to the Psychology Networks
    Qualitative Dataset
  • Qualifier! Tricky to meet all needs given
    diversity in the time allocated to qualitative
    methods in UG curriculums and in the learning
    outcomes specified

Group task 1
  • You have 2 minutes to list what you consider to
    be the key principles / aspects of qualitative
    research methods which undergraduate students
    should know / think about.

Qualitative Methods at Undergraduate Level
  • BPS benchmarking statements
  • include the acquisition and knowledge of a range
    of research skills and methods for investigating
    experience and behaviour, culminating in an
    ability to conduct research independently
  • apply multiple perspectives to psychological
    issues, recognising that psychology involves a
    range of research methods, theories, evidence and
  • carry out empirical studies involving a variety
    of methods of data collection, including
    experiments, observation, psychometric tests,
    questionnaires, interviews and field studies
  • analyse data using both quantitative and
    qualitative methods
  • 3

(Personal) markers of high standard at UG level
  • A flexible way of thinking about the ways in
    which knowledge can be produced in psychology
  • A fit-for-purpose approach to judging the quality
    of differing research paradigms
  • An appreciation of the variety of ways in which
    qualitative research methods can produce data
    (rather than collect it) and outcomes useful to
  • An understanding of the role of idiographic
    approaches in psychology and its attention to
    meaning and process rather than causality
  • An awareness of the ways in which theory operates
    in qualitative studies
  • A considered understanding of the role of the
    researcher (and interpretation) in qualitative
  • A basic knowledge of how the issues of
    subjectivity, validity, reliability,
    generalisability etc. are managed in qualitative

Most common starting point
  • Students are most familiar with quantitative
    approaches and will naturally compare qualitative
    methods to these.
  • Promote flexible thinking rather than an either/
    or approach.
  • Some students seem to have real affinity with
    qualitative methods.
  • Still be prepared for the obvious questions about
    control groups, validity etc.

Example activities Activity 1 Subjectivity
  • Many qualitative approaches in psychology are
    interested in peoples subjective experiences
    (i.e. what were things like for them? How did
    they experience an event / phenomenon?).
  • However, using subjective accounts as research
    data is sometimes criticised by psychologists and
  • Why do you think this is?
  • Do you think subjective accounts have a value
  • in psychological research?

Point is to get them to think about this
(probably for the first time). If they struggle
with accepting subjective data, could point to
survey / questionnaire data. Ask them to
consideration limitations as well as benefits.
Example activities Activities 2 3 Research
  • Research question
  • we want qualitative work
  • to focus on a defined aspect of a research topic
  • to generate a manageable amount of data
  • for use with an appropriate analytic method
  • and to subsequently provoke a critical discussion
    of that research field.
  • in other words, aim to say a lot about a little.

Teaching about interviewing
  • Point out interview society (Atkinson
    Silverman, 1997)
  • Interviews are familiar, legitimate and (mostly)
    respected ways of generating information and
    understanding others.
  • If you want to know how people understand their
    world and their lives, why not talk with them?
    (Kvale, 2009 p xvii).

(No Transcript)
Teaching about interviewing
  • Point out interview society (Atkinson
    Silverman, 1997)
  • Interviews are familiar, legitimate and (mostly)
    respected ways of generating information and
    understanding others.
  • If you want to know how people understand their
    world and their lives, why not talk with them?
    (Kvale, 2009 p xvii).
  • Activity 4 research interview vs. media
  • different types and procedures of qualitative
    interviews, for example
  • structured
  • unstructured
  • semi-structured
  • dilemma interview
  • feminist interview
  • biographical interview
  • free association narrative interview
  • narrative interview
  • life story interview
  • Activity 5 list pros and cons of structured vs
    unstructured interviews

Experiencing interviewing Activity 6
  • Being interviewed
  • Person A interviews person B with the interview
    schedule A for 2 minutes.
  • Person B interviews person A with the interview
    schedule B for 2 minutes.
  • Report on what it felt to be the interview / the
  • Hopefully they notice things such as
  • Feeling there is a right answer
  • Wanting to please the interviewer
  • Finding it hard to remember
  • Knowing when to ask a question
  • Listening to interviewee without being distracted
  • Trying not to lead the interviewee

Interview schedules Activity 7
  • If you wanted to understand the how undecided
    voters made a decision to vote Tory or Labour in
    the last election, what would you ask them?
  • If you wanted to understand how comedians
    conceptualise comedy, what would you ask them?
  • If you wanted to know how older women make
    decisions about genetic testing, what would you
    ask them?
  • Can provoke discussions around how difficult it
    is to devise questions that are both helpful to
    the interviewer and helpful to the interviewee.
  • Interview schedules Activity 8-10
  • closed vs open questions
  • spotting good questions
  • prompts

Key conceptual points in teaching about interviews
  • The interview is not a just type of data, nor
    even a way of collecting it (as Holliday, 2002
    suggests) but rather a way of generating it
    (manufacturing it, Rapley 2004)
  • a professional conversation where knowledge is
    produced in inter-action (Kvale Brinkmann,
  • can treat the interview itself as an
    observational site.
  • This distinction between collection / generating
    data is important
  • remaining aware that the way a person speaks is
    an artefact of the interview is important when it
    comes to analysing it and making claims about it.
  • the entire research enterprise influences the
    nature of data collected / generated
  • Do people think there is an agenda? Do they have
  • Conceptual thinking Activity 11 Do you think
    people tell the truth in interviews? Any speaker
    has at their disposal options to speak about
    things, truthfully, in many different ways.
    Consider talk about ASBOs.

Key conceptual points in teaching about
interviews ontology epistemology
  • Different types of qualitative interviews have
    their own philosophical assumptions concerning
  • what can be known?
  • can we know what people really think, feel, know,
    believe etc.?
  • is there a truth / objective reality to be
  • how we should produce knowledge?
  • remaining sensitive to the context in which it
    was produced
  • based on differing conceptualisations of the
    relationship between language, cognition and
  • Is there a direct link between what happened,
    what one thinks about it and what one says in an
    interview about it?

Diana-Bashir Interview (1995)
  • BASHIR At this early stage, would you say that
    you were happily married?
  • DIANA Very much so. But, the pressure on us both
    as a couple with the media was phenomenal, and
    misunderstood by a great many people. We'd be
    going round Australia, for instance, and all you
    could hear was, oh, she's on the other side. Now,
    if you're a man, like my husband a proud man, you
    mind about that if you hear it every day for four
    weeks. And you feel low about it, instead of
    feeling happy and sharing it.
  • BASHIR When you say she's on the other side',
    what do you mean?
  • DIANA Well, they weren't on the right side to
    wave at me or to touch me.
  • BASHIR So they were expressing a preference even
    then for you rather than your husband?
  • DIANA Yes - which I felt very uncomfortable
    with, and I felt it was unfair, because I wanted
    to share.
  • BASHIR But were you flattered by the media
    attention particularly?
  • DIANA No, not particularly, because with the
    media attention came a lot of jealousy, a great
    deal of complicated situations arose because of

Exploring epistemology / ontology Activity 12
  • Are the interview questions in this extract any
  • What examples are there in this extract of
    co-construction of data?
  • Consider how alternative questioning might have
    delivered a different response.
  • Does this mean that the interview lacks validity?

Theoretical positions on interview data
Data as time and context bound social
Data as a factual verifiable record
Between these two positions, one may consider
that what respondents say does have some
significance and reality for them beyond the
bounds of this particular occasion, that is
part of their ongoing self-story and represents a
manifestation of their psychological worlds, and
it is this psychological reality that one is
interested in (Smith, 1995, p10).
Metaphors for interviewing
  • 1.opening up interviewees head and accessing the
    knowledge inside it
  • job of researcher to extricate information from
    interviewee who was reluctant, or unable, to hand
    it over.
  • 2. have moved away from this basic model to new
    active (collaborative) model
  • focus on allowing participants to speak for
    themselves and formulate own account (Gubrium
    Holstein, 2002)
  • The aim is interpretation and understanding of
    how and why, not 'fact-finding' (Warren, 1988).

Subjective Experience / Psychological world
Need sensitivity to interactional context
Exploring epistemology / ontology Activity 13
  • What does this all mean for the kinds of claims
    psychologists can make when they have based their
    research on semi-structured, qualitative

TQRMUL Dataset
  • http//
  • Collected for teaching purposes participants
    fully informed.
  • On topic of friendship
  • Have two types of transcripts available
    Jeffersonian and playscript we are using the
  • Can never be a mirror image of the interview
    bound to lose some aspects of the interaction.
  • Type of transcription depends on what you want
    to do with the data.
  • Should be verbatim, or near verbatim.

Workshop Part 2 Teaching IPA
  • What are the key features of IPA that we would
    want students to grasp?
  • What do you think they struggle with the most?

Workshop Part 2 grasping meaning-making
  • People are self-interpreting beings (Taylor,
  • Interpretative activity - sense-making is
    central to human experience action.

Early on at University, I met this guy and we
seemed to just hit it off straight way laughing
a lot and finding it so easy to be with each
other. Over dinner one evening, I really felt
that he was interested in me but I began to feel
that I was putting on a bit of an act. I know I
started to withdraw a bit, as I was annoyed at
myself, and though he had probably not seen the
best of me. Out the walk home, I decided to tell
me why I had gone a bit quiet as I really wanted
to keep this openness between us.
I went to University. I met a man. We went out to
a restaurant. We ate our dinner. We went home.
IPA as a tool
  • IPA is a newly developed, and continually
    developing, methodological tool to analyse
  • founded by Jonathan Smith (1997 In N. Hayes
    Doing Qualitative Research in Psychology)
  • Central concern is with
  • the uniqueness of a persons experiences
  • how they are made meaningful
  • how these meanings manifest themselves

IPA grasping theoretical underpinnings
  • Principle of Phenomenology (Husserl, 1859-1938)
  • challenges notion of absolute truth / the
  • Does redness mean the same thing to you as it
    does to me?
  • Did the dinner mean the same thing to Eva as it
    did to her date?
  • valid knowledge and understanding can be gained
    from peoples descriptions of how the world is to
  • measurement of external, observable behaviour is
    not the only means to understand human behaviour

IPA grasping theoretical underpinnings
  • Hermeneutic inquiry
  • Hermeneutics development and study of theories
    of the interpretation and understanding of texts
  • IPAs aim is achieved through interpretative
    activity on the part of the researcher
  • Researcher aims to assume an insider perspective
    (Conrad, 1987) to stand in the shoes of the
  • Double hermeneutic (dual interpretation process)
  • Access to the participants experience depends
    on, is complicated by, the researchers own
  • But interpretative activity is necessary in order
    to make sense of others personal worlds
  • the participants are tying to make sense of
    their world the researcher is trying to make
    sense of the participants trying to make sense of
    their world.
  • (Smith Osborn, 2003 51)
  • Research is a dynamic process the researcher
    plays an active role.

IPA grasping double hermeneutic
IPA grasping idiographic approach
  • Idiography
  • Focusing on the particular rather than the
  • Idiographic studies work at the individual level
    to make specific statements about those
  • The alternative - nomothetic studies - work at
    the group/population level to make probabilistic
  • NOT either/or, rather we argue for (a)the
    intensive examination of the individual in her or
    his own right as an intrinsic part of
    psychologys remit, and (b) that the logical
    route to universal laws structures is an
    idiographic-nomothetic one
  • (Harré, 1979 cited in Smith Eatough, 2006

IPA the analytic stage Key
  • researcher as active in making sense of the data
  • purpose of the analysis to make sense of the
    data in a meaningful way that addresses the
    research question (not trying to just generate a
    summary of what they said)
  • the researcher keeps moving between text and
    theme development
  • your interpretation must fit with the data, i.e.
    someone else could audit your analysis and should
    be able to confirm your evidence for themes
  • analysing the individuals account, not analysing
    the person
  • i.e. not about claiming the individual said what
    they did because they had an awful childhood, are
    neurotic, greedy, in denial or full of themselves

Stages of IPA (see Willig, 2001, p 54)
  • Stage 1 read and re-read transcript
  • in left-hand margin, note your initial
    observations / thoughts about the data. Could
    include associations, questions, comments on
    language use, absences, descriptive labels etc.
    Often terms open coding
  • Stage 2 identify and label themes that
    characterise each section of text
  • these should be conceptual, should capture
    something about the essential quality of what was
    said, can use psychological terminology
  • Stage 3 relationship between themes
  • list themes and consider if any are related.
    Some will form natural clusters, since they share
    the same elements. If clusters can be formed,
    group them, and give a Cluster Label that
    captures their essence.
  • Stage 4 Produce summary table of clusters and
    themes, with quotes and line numbers etc.

Stage 1 Open coding what do you notice?
  • Sure of degree or this place?
  • Getting swept along
  • Idea of the system
  • sense of loss?
  • Ive never really been sure of coming to
    Universitywell, I mean, Ive never been sure if
    it was what I really wanted but
  • I guess it kind of just happened. I filled in the
    forms at the right time, did what everyone else
    was doing, and here I am. I guess there is
  • some comfort in doing the same as lots of people,
    but I dont know if Ive done this for me really.

Stage 2 How to be conceptual
  • Move beyond description of the text, or
    paraphrasing of it.
  • Ask yourself, what is this text referring to?
  • What is the participant really getting at, or
    really trying to convey?
  • Attempt to capture more concisely the
    psychological quality inherent in the extract
    can use psychological terminology here
  • Caution is essential so that the connection
    between the participants own words and the
    researchers interpretation is not lost.

Parallels with film reviewing
  • Description of film
  • Two main characters, both trying to figure out
    how to cheat casino
  • One guy uses big group of hustlers
  • Another guy relies on himself
  • End up having to rely on each other, and share
    the pay out
  • Thematic Analysis
  • Greed amongst powerless
  • Self-reliance vs. need
  • Vulnerability

Stage 2 Generating themes
  • Possible themes?
  • me
  • Wants
  • Conforming
  • Need for comfort
  • Uncertainty me
  • Ive never really been sure of coming to
    Universitywell, I mean, Ive never been sure if
    it was what I really wanted but
  • I guess it kind of just happened. I filled in the
    forms at the right time, did what everyone else
    was doing, and here I am. I guess there is
  • some comfort in doing the same as lots of people,
    but I dont know if Ive done this for me really.

Stage 3 Introduce structure relationships
between themes
  • look for ways in which themes may be grouped
  • this may not be possible from just one transcript
    (but is essential when conducting larger scale
  • between 2 and 5 themes could meaningfully form a

Stage 3 Introduce structure relationships
between themes
  • Cluster Real vs. Supposed me
  • Theme 1 Real me
  • I just dont know if this is right for me for
    the kind of person I am (Line 143)
  • Theme 2 Perceived me
  • I guess everyone just thought Id fit in at Uni,
    that Id do well. (Line 64)
  • Theme 3 Managing discrepancy
  • At times, I can convince myself I fit. Other
    times, I get angry and want to rebel.

Stage 4 Write-up (good practice)
  • Cluster Real vs. Supposed
  • This cluster represents reported experiences
    around a perceived real self, and one that is
    perceived by others. The participant often
    referenced the subjective self (i.e. me) and used
    this as a way to judge the suitability of her
    choices. Three theme have been placed within this
    cluster, Real vs. Supposed Me, Perceived Me
    and Managing Discrepancy

Stage 4 Write-up (good practice)
  • Theme 1 Real me
  • I just dont know if this is right for me
    for the kind of person I am (Line 143)
  • The participant spoke of her University choice in
    terms of a fit with her self. She referred to
    herself a as particular kind of person,
    suggesting a view of her self which was static,
    complete and able to drive her choices.
  • I am the sort of person who likes to
    know whats happening, you know. Im also
  • quite keen to hear others views
  • Im quite a reflective person
  • Much of her account centered around a theme of
    uncertainty, most
  • prominent in terms of her choice of career.
  • quote
  • quote

Stage 4 Write-up (bad practice)
  • Theme 1 Real me
  • I just dont know if this is right for me
    for the kind of person I am (Line 143)
  • The participant did not know what she wanted
    to do. She could not decide whether University
    was right for her. She may have been worrying
    about what others thought of her, or maybe she
    thought she would not enjoy University. She might
    also have been thinking she was too intelligent
    for the place, as she seemed quite aloof in the

From analysis section of Dickson et al (2007)
  • There is no doubt that the most frequently
    reported experience with the GP
  • was a contested diagnosis between CFS and
    depression. The participants
  • reported a sense of being in tune with their
    own bodies, and having a strong
  • sense of insight into their own health. This
    allowed them the knowledge that they
  • were definitely not suffering from depression or
    indeed any other medical
  • condition but were suffering from CFS. The
    participants often had a strong sense
  • of the truth of their own self-diagnosis with
    CFS. This personal understanding
  • of their condition fuelled negotiations with the
    GP. Thomas presents a typical
  • account of such contested diagnoses
  • He GP goes Oh, it sounds like youve got
    depression, he says these are the symptoms of
  • depression, I said No theyre not, I said
    some of the symptoms of depression yeah, Im
  • sleeping! And all these kinda but I said Its
    not depression, I know my own body and I know
  • how Im feeling and I know this is not
    depression. He goes Well, depression can
  • itself in different ways and he goes, and he
    kind of irritated me because what he said was
  • eh, the, kind of, the medical world is just a cop
    out what they call things like this CFS and eh,
  • what was it? and irritable bowel he said
    Its just a cop out on their part, basically
    its just an
  • excuse cause they

Challenges in doing IPA
  • What do / did you feel unsure about in doing this
  • What do you find difficult?
  • What do you get?

Evaluating qualitative studies
  • Criteria such as validity and reliability rest on
    assumptions of objectivity and aim to reduce bias
    (Lyons Coyle, 2007).
  • But qualitative methods acknowledge context and
    role of researcher in production of knowledge.
  • Some qualitative researchers reject these
    criteria, whilst others work with them in
    tailored ways.
  • e.g. Validity the extent to which our research
    method describes, measures or explains what it
    purports to describe, measure or explain.
  • interview data has high ecological validity.
  • reflexivity, transparency and triangulation to
    promote validity.
  • e.g. Reliability not applicable given is time
    and context bound.

Evaluating qualitative studies
  • Henwood Pidgeon (1992) 7 attributes of good
    qualitative research
  • Elliott et al. (1999) Evaluation criteria
  • Madill et al. (2000) epistemological stances
    necessitating tailored evaluation criteria
  • See Willig (2001) Chapter 9 useful for students.

Useful resources
  • Interviews
  • Gubrium, J.F. Holstein, J.A. (2001) Handbook of
    interview research. London Sage.
  • Hermans, H. (2004) Interviewing as an activity.
    In U. Flick, E. von Kardoff and I. Steinke (2004)
    A companion to qualitative research. pp 209-221
  • Kvale, S. (1996) Interviews an introduction to
    qualitative research interviewing. London Sage.
  • Kvale, S. and Brinkmann, S. (2009) InterViews
    learning the craft of qualitative interviewing,
    London Sage.
  • Quality control in interview-based research
  • Smith, J. (2003) Qualitative Psychology. See
    Chapter 11
  • Willig, C. (2001) Introducing Qualitative
    Research in Psychology. See Chapter 9.

Useful resources - IPA
  • Larkin, M., Watts, S and Clifton, E. (2006).
    Giving voice and making sense in interpretative
    phenomenological analysis
  • Michell, J. (2004). The place of qualitative
    research in psychology. Qualitative Research in
    Psychology, 1, 307319.
  • Smith, J.A. (2004). Reflecting on the development
    of interpretative phenomenological analysis and
    its contribution to qualitative research in
    psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology,
    1, 39-54
  • Wilig, C. (2001) Introducing Qualitative Research
    in Psychology adventures in theory and method.
    Buckingham Open University Press.

Useful resources - papers using IPA
  • Lavie, M. Willig, C. (2005) "I Don't Feel Like
    Melting Butter" An Interpretative
    Phenomenological Analysis of the Experience of
    'Inorgasmia'. Psychology Health. Vol 20(1),
  • Parke, A. Griffiths, M. (2005). Aggressive
    Behaviour in Adult Slot Machine Gamblers An
    Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Journal
    of Community Applied Social Psychology. Vol
    15(4), 255-272.
  • Smith, J.A. Osborn, M. (2007) Pain as an
    assault on the self. Psychology and Health, 22
    (5), 517-534.

Useful resources - papers using IPA
  • Eatough, V. Smith, J. (2006). I was like a
    wild wild person understanding feelings of
    anger using IPA. British Journal of Psychology,
    97, 483-498.
  • Dickson, A., Knussen, C. and Flowers, P. (20070.
    Stigma and the delegitimation experience an
    interpretative phenomenological analysis of pole
    living with chronic fatigue syndrome. Psychology
    Health, 22 (7), 851-867.
  • Howes, H., Benton, D. Edwards, S. (2005).
    Women's Experience of Brain Injury An
    Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.
    Psychology Health. Vol 20(1), 129-142
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