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Article

Qualitative Data Analysis and the Use of Theory  

Carol Grbich

The role of theory in qualitative data analysis is continually shifting and offers researchers many choices. The dynamic and inclusive nature of qualitative research has encouraged the entry of a number of interested disciplines into the field. These discipline groups have introduced new theoretical practices that have influenced and diversified methodological approaches. To add to these, broader shifts in chronological theoretical orientations in qualitative research can be seen in the four waves of paradigmatic change; the first wave showed a developing concern with the limitations of researcher objectivity, and empirical observation of evidence based data, leading to the second wave with its focus on realities - mutually constructed by researcher and researched, participant subjectivity, and the remedying of societal inequalities and mal-distributed power. The third wave was prompted by the advent of Postmodernism and Post- structuralism with their emphasis on chaos, complexity, intertextuality and multiple realities; and most recently the fourth wave brought a focus on visual images, performance, both an active researcher and an interactive audience, and the crossing of the theoretical divide between social science and classical physics. The methods and methodological changes, which have evolved from these paradigm shifts, can be seen to have followed a similar pattern of change. The researcher now has multiple paradigms, co-methodologies, diverse methods and a variety of theoretical choices, to consider. This continuum of change has shifted the field of qualitative research dramatically from limited choices to multiple options, requiring clarification of researcher decisions and transparency of process. However, there still remains the difficult question of the role that theory will now play in such a high level of complex design and critical researcher reflexivity.

Article

Oral History Approaches in Education in Brazil  

Zeila Demartini

This article analyzes the relationship between oral history and education in Brazil. First, it addresses changes in theoretical and methodological approaches in some disciplinary fields, a move that increasingly questions production based mainly on quantitative research and favors a renewal of qualitative research. In this context, qualitative research incorporated discussions of life histories and the subjects’ narratives as methods of collecting data. At the same time that shifts in sociology and history drew both disciplines together in research that used the biographical approach and oral reports, qualitative research on educational issues was becoming stronger in the field of education. Questioning routine forms of research in these various fields ended up addressing common themes of interest to all of them. Such an approach allowed for the introduction and development of oral history in Brazil as an interdisciplinary field in which questions flowed from one discipline to another, in which sociologists, anthropologists, historians, and educators took part. Oral history is understood as a methodological approach to research in which the researcher commits to the object of study, approaching it based on the oral reports of the subjects involved along with other written, iconographic, and material sources in order to understand the different representations of the subjects. Oral history brought fundamental changes in education: subjects were incorporated into the production of knowledge about the history of education, social relations in the educational field, the way of looking at the formative processes of educators, discussions regarding curricula aimed at diverse social groups, group cultures, among other aspects; the educational field was no longer analyzed mainly from an educational, pedagogical-methodological approach, but one based on the centrality of the subjects and their demands. This change in perspective, no longer only on the part of the State or supporting institutions, provided a link between school and non-school education, as well as in the processes of participation of social groups. It also encouraged the incorporation of diverse data sources and their preservation. New research topics were also taken up, which has had a strong influence on the process of training historians and educators. Educational issues have been at the fore from the first incursions of oral history in Brazil and, precisely because of the exchange being built, new research paths are now being developed.

Article

A Culturally Affirming Approach to Research Methodology Through the Caribbean Practice of Liming and Ole Talk  

Camille Nakhid

A culturally affirming approach to research methodology centers Indigenous, Black, People of color in the research process and recognizes the value of our own ways of knowing and sharing knowledge. Unlike a decolonizing methodology that remains tied to a colonial discourse against which it seeks to argue its relevance, an affirming methodology originates from within the worldviews, realities, and practices of the people from whom knowledge is sought and shared. Culturally affirming research is surrounded by its own traditions and ways of knowing so that its worth is in its own right, and it is valuable in and of itself. The Caribbean region, with its indigenous history and localized present forged from peoples both local and global, has created social interactions, rituals, and cultural practices that signify and affirm themselves and their ways of knowing. Indigenous knowledges affirm the diversity of histories and experiences that shape our human development, and indigenous scholarship challenges the oppression by Western academia of indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing. Liming and ole talk is a uniquely Caribbean way of knowing, having its origins in the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Liming explains the way we have learned to share knowledge and is reflective of our thinking, experiences, values, and principles. Ole talk is not only what knowledge we share but how we share that knowledge. Liming methodology, incorporating liming as research methodology and ole talk as research method, is not derived from Western interpretations but grounded within a Caribbean context. Liming methodology has been developed and employed as a culturally affirming research methodology for use with Caribbean peoples and in Caribbean contexts. Understanding ourselves can only be done when we center our cultures without the shadow of a colonial or decolonizing framework and when the questions that we ask and the solutions that we seek emanate from what we truly affirm and embrace to be ours. Liming methodology emphasizes the relational aspects of sharing knowledge and the solidarity that this brings to the practices, experiences, and histories of Black, Indigenous, and People of color. Research methodologies such as liming and ole talk, based on regionally relevant theoretical frameworks intrinsic to Caribbean social and historical authenticities, allow us to gain a more accurate and true knowledge of the world of our people.

Article

Qualitative Methods for Gender and Education Research in Brazil  

Marília Carvalho

Qualitative research predominate in Brazilian studies on gender and education. This article points that these methodologies contribute to this field as powerful tools that break the naturalization of gender relations, uncovering the subtle forms of gender inequality in everyday life and highlighting the social construction of gender. The common effort in ethnographies to make strange what is familiar are useful in overcoming these pitfalls. Qualitative methodologies are also important in the construction of contextual analyses that avoid essentialist statements about men and women as fixed universal notions, a frequent bias in gender studies. Latin American research on gender in education has used these principles with good results and this article offers some examples, developed mainly in Brazil. It also suggests researchers use qualitative methodologies to link gender to other social determinations such as class and race, in an intersectional perspective. The challenge of constructing intersectionality finds in qualitative research methods a powerful ally because it allows investigators to understand how each form of inequality combines with the other, creating new meanings. The article also stresses that analysis based on qualitative data may help break the dichotomies between social structures and individual action, fostering the understanding of the simultaneity between actions of the subjects and social determination, between change and permanence, between individuals and society. Finally, the conclusion draws attention to the need for greater dialogue between quantitative and qualitative research in the area of gender and education studies, opening space for issues highlighted in statistical analysis to be explored in qualitative research, which in turn might generate new questions to be investigated in macro-social databases.

Article

Qualitative Methods and the Study of Identity and Education  

Luis Urrieta and Beth Hatt

The paradigmatic turn of the latter half of the 20th century enabled a phenomenal growth in research studies exploring the multiple, fluid, and changing complexities of culture and identity. The nuanced, contradictory, and process-oriented nature of identity and identification has meant that these studies of identity in education have been and continue to be largely, and appropriately, qualitative and ethnographic. Theorizing about researcher positionality within qualitative research, especially ethnography, have changed over time and paralleled changes in how we think about identity in relation to education. Paradigmatic shifts regarding positionality, epistemology, and research ethics have included positivist dominated (1900s–1950s) to a critical paradigmatic shift (1960s–1980s) to most recently post-critical and decolonizing paradigms (1990s to today). Recent research centers that identity formation is central to learning and schooling contexts, directly related to student marginalization and performance embedded in issues of power. As we look towards the future, we anticipate a shift in qualitative research that is less individualistic and centered on reciprocity for communities.

Article

Designing Research for Meaningful Results in Educational Leadership  

Karen Moran Jackson and Ric Brown

Making appropriate methodological and analytic decisions in educational research requires a thorough grounding in the literature and a thorough understanding of the chosen methodology. Detailed preplanning is important for all method types and includes an understanding of the assumptions, limitations, and delimitations of the study. For quantitative research, researchers should be cautious with data analysis decisions that give preference to statistically significant results, noting that quantitative research can proceed with intents other than confirmatory hypothesis testing. Decisions and procedures that are used to search for low p values, rather than answer the driving research question, are especially problematic. Presentation of quantitative results should include components that clarify and account for analytic choices, that report all relevant statistical results, and that provide sufficient information to replicate the study. Consideration should also be given to joining recent initiatives for more transparency in research with the use of preregistered studies and open data repositories. For qualitative research, researchers should be thoughtful about choosing a specific method for their project that appropriately matches the method’s framework and analytic procedures with the research aim and anticipated sample. Qualitative researchers should also strive for transparency in their method description by allowing for a view of the analytic process that drove the data collection and iterative dives into the data. Presentation of qualitative results requires a balance between providing a compelling narrative that establishes the trustworthiness of results with the judicious use of participant voices. Mixed methods research also requires appropriate integration of different data types.

Article

Feminist Theory and Its Use in Qualitative Research in Education  

Emily Freeman

Feminist theory rose in prominence in educational research during the 1980s and experienced a resurgence in popularity during the late 1990s−2010s. Standpoint epistemologies, intersectionality, and feminist poststructuralism are the most prevalent theories, but feminist researchers often work across feminist theoretical thought. Feminist qualitative research in education encompasses a myriad of methods and methodologies, but projects share a commitment to feminist ethics and theories. Among the commitments are the understanding that knowledge is situated in the subjectivities and lived experiences of both researcher and participants and research is deeply reflexive. Feminist theory informs both research questions and the methodology of a project in addition to serving as a foundation for analysis. The goals of feminist educational research include dismantling systems of oppression, highlighting gender-based disparities, and seeking new ways of constructing knowledge.

Article

Risky Truth-Making in Qualitative Inquiry  

Aaron M. Kuntz

Conventional approaches to qualitative research seek to distill and capture meaning through a sequence of determined, progressive methodological steps that serve to synthesize difference toward a series of overarching claims regarding human experience. This approach reifies contemporary neoliberal values and, as a consequence, short-circuits any possibility for progressive social change. Through conventional research practices, the principles of security, schizoid, and statistical society accelerate, extending normalizing processes of governmentality, and producing a docile citizenry adverse to key elements of an engaged democracy. In such circumstance, risk is identified as the production of findings that are ambiguously defined, not attending to values of certainty and generalizable outcomes. As a consequence, conventional methodological practices fail to engage the postmodern condition—fragmented experiences with inconclusive outcomes are displaced by methodologies bent on merging difference into foreclosed meaning. Contrary to conventional approaches to research, post-foundational orientations emphasize relational logics that maintain difference within the inquiry project itself. A provocative example of this extends from newly materialist approaches to qualitative inquiry that emphasizes the productive possibilities inherent in difference and, as such, displace the simplified dialectical reasoning of conventional approaches in favor of more dialogic recognition of diffractive patterning. In this sense, open-ended difference makes possible previously unrecognized (even unthought) possibilities for being otherwise. As such, newly materialist approaches to inquiry manifest alternative ontological and epistemological practices that are not available to the conventional methodologist; they make possible an open-ended vision of the future that is necessary for radical democratic action. Furthermore, the fluid nature of such methodologies align well with Foucault’s explication of parrhesia, a means of truth-making that creates new possibilities for becoming otherwise. The intersection of newly materialist methodologies with parrhesia challenges methodologists to risk the very relations that secure their expertise, establishing a moral challenge to the impact of past practice on the possibilities inherent in the future.

Article

Facets of Quality in Qualitative Research  

Staffan Larsson

How to judge the quality of a piece of research is a question that permeates academic work. A clear conception of quality is the backbone of the design and conduct of research, as well as the basis for supervision, manuscript review, and examination papers. Qualitative methodologies justify their usefulness through the development of more sophisticated interpretations of specific study objects than can be achieved within other methodologies. However, it is difficult to arrive at a decision concerning the quality of a piece of research because there are many aspects or facets to consider. Academics develop their competence for reaching decisions through experience, coupled with taking part in ways of reasoning about quality in qualitative research. Within this reasoning process there are a number of quality facets that should be considered. Each facet is grounded in various ways in different research traditions, and each has a foundational meaning but must also be assessed in relation to limitations. From the perspective of the text as a whole, one must consider whether it shows an awareness of the consequences of the research assumptions and other aspects of internal consistency. Ethical considerations are yet another facet. From a narrower perspective, the quality of the interpretation of empirical data must be able to capture rich meaning and present it in a structured way so that the interpretation can be clearly discerned. Another facet is how the interpretation contributes to existing knowledge about the issue or phenomenon that was studied. A classic question concerns the relation between an interpretation and the empirical basis, its credibility or validity. Here there are various facets to consider: Is the interpretation well anchored in data, and how do specific data fit when they are put together? Another facet is whether the interpretation opens up new ways of understanding an issue or process and whether more sophisticated action can result from embracing the interpretation. A proper evaluation of qualitative research should consider all facets; however, the ultimate appraisal rests on professional wisdom of the judge developed through experience and participation in deliberations related to what constitutes quality in academic texts. Determination of quality in qualitative research is not a mechanical process.

Article

Understanding Relational and Responsible Leadership for School Leaders  

Brigitte Smit and Mapula Mabusela

Relational leadership and responsible leadership are important subjects in the literature, and more attention can be paid to these leadership practices in educational leadership. Most educational leadership studies focus on distributed, instructional, teacher, and transformational leadership using mostly quantitative research. The aim is to explore and describe relational and responsible leadership in the context of educational leadership. Qualitative research methodology such as narrative inquiry is not often used for inquiries into educational leadership studies. Moreover, the scholarship on narrative inquiry as a relational methodology for relational and responsible educational leadership is scant, and there is a need to broaden the discussion to include appropriate the concepts of relational leadership and responsible leadership for educational leadership in a context of relational narrative inquiry. Relational and responsible leadership theories can be appropriated through a relational research methodology using narrative inquiry. These scholarly lenses may add value to school leadership research and to school leaders who wish to transform and change leadership practices, specifically in diverse school communities with challenging and problematic educational landscapes.

Article

Philosophical Tenets of Action Research in Education  

Luis Sebastián Villacañas de Castro and Darío Luis Banegas

The juxtaposition of action and research conveys a sense of the richness and complexity of action research, yet it does not entirely translate its nuanced and sophisticated philosophy. In turn, an understanding of this philosophy is crucial for grasping action research’s radical originality. In this context at least, it may be more accurate to define action research by drawing on the term practice, even though it does not form part of the basic conceptual pair. Not only does practice make it easier for us to trace the constellation of philosophical influences behind the theory and practice of action research—from pragmatism to postmodernism, including Greek philosophy and Marxist and psychoanalytic schools of thought—but also to identify where these influences end and action research emerges as the bearer of a nontransferable view. Beyond this, at the heart of action research lies a structural affinity with singular social practices, which are its key ontological sites—that is, the context where action research in each case fills its epistemological and ethical dimensions with meaning. What kind of knowledge does action research aim to produce? What behaviors do action researchers engage in? Compared to other research paradigms in the social sciences—the field of education included—the specific quality of action research has to do with how its epistemological and ethical dimensions are shaped not from without but from within any given social practice. This is the key to its specific ecology. In action research, the epistemological and ethical realms do not stand beyond or above the situated social practices, with their values, principles of procedure, knowledges, and discourses, including their own literacies and modalities—in short, their own internal cultures. Action research conceives and presents itself as a rational and systematic way for members of the different social practices to build and rebuild their own epistemologies and ethics precisely by drawing on, and selecting from, their own internal cultures. How does this ecological perspective translate itself in education? Education is one of the key areas in which action research is generally applied, together with welfare and healthcare. Yet apart from the specific use of action research by educators, action research carries within itself a specific educational philosophy (and a political philosophy as well) which underlies its application, regardless of the specific social practice in which it takes place. In the same way that action research is politically democratic, educationally speaking action research is participatory, meaning that learning, improvement, or development can only be realized through a self-determining process in which people act and research freely upon and among themselves. This is precisely what action research facilitates in the different social practices. Action research is always educational, whether one develops it in education, welfare, or healthcare. As a result, action research has contributed a clear-cut pedagogical model that some critical educators have already imported to their own educational institutions and practices: youth participatory action research.

Article

Research Challenges and Innovative Methodologies, Approaches, and Processes  

S. Anthony Thompson

Investigative practices, including research methodologies, approaches, processes, as well as knowledge dissemination efforts continue to evolve within inclusive or special education. So too do such practices evolve within related fields such as nursing, psychology, community-based care, health promotion, etc. There are several research approaches that promote the tools required to effect inclusive education, such as: evidence-based practice (EBP), EBP in practice, creative secondary uses of (anonymous) data, collective impact, qualitative evidence synthesis (QES), and lines of action (LOA). Other approaches that promote a more inclusive education research agenda more generally, include action research and participatory action research, inclusive research, appreciative inquiry, and arts-based educational research.