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Qualitative Methods in Institutional Research


... on the philosophical stance taken with respect to the nature of social science. ... I kinda find it weird that each of their ethnic group clubs have outreach for ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Qualitative Methods in Institutional Research

Qualitative Methods in Institutional Research
  • Workshop
  • CAIR Annual Meetings
  • November 12, 2003
  • Judith Richlin-Klonsky, Ph.D.
  • UCLA Student Affairs Information Research
  • jrichlin_at_saonet.ucla.edu
  • http//www.sairo.ucal.edu

The goals of the workshop
  • To outline the issues that need to be considered
    when undertaking a qualitative research project.
  • To describe experiences with specific qualitative
    research techniques.
  • To respond to questions about using qualitative
    methods in institutional research.

Our agenda
  • Introductions
  • Overview of qualitative methods in institutional
    research (JR-K)
  • Quick Easy Focus Groups (WW)
  • Blitzkrieg Ethnography (BB)
  • Fishbowl Discussions (JR-K)
  • QA/Discussion

What do we mean by qualitative research?
  • Examples of qualitative data-collection
  • Individual interviews
  • Group interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Ethnographic observation
  • Participant-observation
  • Archival and/or documentary research
  • Journaling
  • (see handout for descriptions)

What do we mean by qualitative research? (2)
  • Not just a set of techniques.
  • Not just non-quantitative research methods.

What do we mean by qualitative research? (3)
  • Research design and methods that help us fulfill
    specific goals as researchers
  • By gathering data through participants own words
    and/or (inter-)actions, we seek to learn about
    the phenomenon being studied from their point of
  • By spending time with experts (those directly
    involved), we seek to learn in depth about the
    phenomenon being studied.

What do we mean by qualitative research? (4)
  • Unlike most quantitative institutional research,
    qualitative research typically doesnt
  • Measure. (Ex What is the rate of graduation?)
  • Produce a quantified product (Ex 86 of our
    students are satisfied with their learning
  • Seek to establish a causal relationship. (Ex
    Summer attendance shortens time to degree.)

But its not scientific
  • Whether qualitative techniques are considered
    scientific description or explanation, or whether
    they offer merely a prelude to scientific
    inquiry, depends on the philosophical stance
    taken with respect to the nature of social
    science. Indeedsome have argued that
    qualitative data provide the only empirical
    foundation on which social science can be built
    (Walker, p. 3).

Research design When is qualitative research
most useful?
  • When the research topic is
  • Sensitive.
  • Complicated.
  • Unmeasurable.
  • Concerned with interaction and/or process.

Research design When is qualitative research
most useful? (2)
  • When the research objective is
  • To learn about research subjects who are few in
  • To brainstorm (generate as many ideas as
    possible, not reduce to a single number).
  • To identify important issues to be explored more
    broadly through quantitative methods.
  • To interpret, illuminate, or illustrate.

Examples of data-collection issues
Individual group interviews, focus groups Recruitment Representativeness
Ethnographic observation Site selection access
Participant-observation Recruitment training of participants to be effective observers
Archival /or documentary research Access
Journaling Data management
Data collection issues
  • All
  • How to maintain subject privacy and demonstrate
    to IRB that you are prepared to maintain
    anonymity or confidentiality?

Data analysis
  • Analysis is aimed at
  • Answering the research question.
  • Identifying themes, categories, or types.

Data analysis (2)
  • Analysis of qualitative material is more
    explicitly interpretive, creative, and personal
    than in quantitative research, which is not to
    say that it should not be equally systematic and
    careful (Walker, p. 4).

How do we know when we have valid results?
  • Saturation
  • When not hearing new types of experiences,
    observations, roles, etc.
  • Triangulation within qualitative methods
  • Data gathered at different times or places, at
    different levels
  • Between multiple observers of the same
  • Triangulation between methods
  • Quantitative and qualitative data

Reporting issues
  • The report on a qualitative study will be
    completely different than that on a quantitative
    study. The structure for the report will have
    emerged from that used in the analysis the
    findings will be presented in terms of
    impressions gained, as hypotheses rather than as
    firm conclusions.
  • continued

Reporting issues (2)
  • There will be no tables and no references to
    numbers or percentages at most the researcher
    will use such phrases as most respondents or
    around half ora minority view was. The
    researcher will be mainly concerned to identify
    and describe the range of behavior and options
    rather than to indicatehow many hold each view.
    In all cases the description of beliefs,
    attitudes, and motivations should be supported by
    evidence in the form of verbatim quotations form
    the interviews and discussions (Morton-Williams,
    in Walker, p. 41).

Reporting issues (3)
  • How to encourage the audience to give
    appropriate attention and weight to the data?
  • Not too little avoid being dismissed because of
    small N.
  • Not too much avoid emotional effects of direct
    participant voices.

Selected resources qualitative methods
  • Sharon B. Merriam, Qualitative Research and Case
    Study Applications in Education, John Wiley
    Sons, 1998.
  • Sharan B. Merriam Associates, Qualitative
    Research in Practice Examples for Discussion and
    Analysis, Jossey-Bass, 2002.
  • Jean J. Schensul and Margaret D. LeCompte,
    Editors, Ethnographers Toolkit, Altamira Press,

Selected resources qualitative methods (2)
  • Robert Walker, Editor, Applied Qualitative
    Research, Gower Publishing Company, 1985.
  • Elizabeth Whitt, Making the Familiar Strange
    Discovering Culture, in Cultural Perspectives in
    Student Affairs Work, George D. Kuh, Editor,
    American College Personnel Association, 1993.

  • The following slides describe use of student
    fishbowl discussions.

UCLA Student Fishbowl Discussions
  • Judith Richlin-Klonsky, Ph.D.
  • UCLA Student Affairs Information
  • Research Office
  • jrichlin_at_saonet.ucla.edu
  • http//www.sairo.ucla.edu

The Fishbowl Discussions 1999-2003
  • Format
  • Background
  • Permutations

Five Fishbowl permutations
1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
First yrs First yrs Soph. Junior Seniors
Senior Senior Seniors Grad students --
Recruitment and planning (see appendixes of
reports at http//www.sairo.ucla.edu, Recent
  • Campus leaders only as general participants.
  • Invitations to be considered for participation
  • Cold calls based on lists generated from
    student records, using parameters related to
    gender, race/ethnicity, class standing, source
  • Referrals from Student Affairs directors.
  • Ad in Daily Bruin
  • Offered incentive as thanks for participation
  • Made clear it would be videotaped
  • Topic areas identified in dialogue with Student
    Affairs leadership.

  • Participation not automatic, not promised.
  • Each candidate contacted personally for a short
  • Selection based on perceived contribution to
    group mix, ability and interest to share
    experience, energy.
  • Frequent follow-up contact prior to event.

Room set up
  • Varied by year, depending on anticipated size of
    audience and location classroom stage in law
    school classroom well tiered lecture hall
    meeting room.
  • Goal is to arrange students so that they can
    easily conduct conversation, but that audience
    can see and hear them
  • Facilitator and assistant sit with students.

Types of subjects addressed
  • Academic experience
  • Co-curricular activities
  • Personal and academic development
  • Perceptions of campus climate
  • Access to/use of student services
  • Residential life (especially crowding)
  • Use of technology

  • Refreshments
  • Mingling

Reviewing and summarizing the data
  • Review notes taken during discussions.
  • View duplicated copy of videotape.
  • Make notes from videotape, transcribing comments
    that concisely capture main points being made.
  • Use notes to summarize student comments in major
    areas covered in discussion.

  • Full reports and executive summaries posted on
    the SAIRO web site at http//www.sairo.ucla.edu
    (Recent Reports).

  • Campus Diversity
  • I came from a very heterogeneous background,
    mostly minorities My thinking was when I left
    high school, oh cool, Im going to UCLA and
    theres going to be all these other people, but
    this time it wont be cliqued, meaning that all
    the pilipinos will be together and all the
    shrug will be together. But when I went to
    college, it was more of the same and I was
    surprised especially with all of the diversity
    issues coming up and especially with the
    abolition of affirmative action I kinda find it
    weird that each of their ethnic group clubs have
    outreach for their ethnic group and it is cliqued
    even more. (ud, 212432)

  • Campus diversity
  • Its such a diverse campus, but people of the
    same background still congregate together. ld
  • When I walk around campus, the only ones who
    are smiling at you are the ones that look like
    you. ld

  • Transition to UCLA
  • Ive been told for the last two years in hs,
    College is going to be such a different
    experience for you. And then I got here and it
    was more different than I ever thought. You
    cant describe it. You cant explain it. Its
    just a transition. And its just a transition.
    And its a different part of life that you have
    to go through. Just be prepared to change your
    outlook on academics and everything. ld

  • Learning to persevere
  • A member of the senior group used the metaphor
    of UCLA as an emotional roller coaster and the
    image resonated with other participants as well.
    Part of the bumpy ride they described was the
    discouragement they felt after arriving as
    someone who had been very impressive in high
    school and then feeling thrown in a pile with
    other high-achieving students. Another student
    agreed that at UCLA you have to cope with ups
    and downs, have to deal with discouragement

  • Learning to persevere
  • Other seniors described in various ways their
    personal developments in light of the challenges
    they faced in a large, complex, and competitive
  • UCLA does grind you into a tough person. In
    applying for jobs, you have that toughness going
    for you created by adversity.
  • UCLA has taught me to persevere.

  • Student culture time to degree
  • Never once during this fifth year have I
    regretted that decision. It was the best thing.
    It helped me mature and I think I would really
    encourage first year studentsto consider a fifth
    year (211457)

  • Full report and executive summary distributed to
    all those invited to the event Student Affairs
    AVCs and directors, Chancellor and his executive
    team, deans.
  • Posted on web site.

  • Some in audience moved and/or energized by
    hearing from students, especially in early years
    and in 2003 good-bye discussion.
  • Concrete changes made, e.g., changes in hours of
    operation for some Student Affairs offices
  • Contribution to planning for various areas (e.g.,
    technology development, external affairs).
  • Format also used in session for student loan
    counselors and planned as a forum for staff
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