Maria DachDr. LackeyENG 608312 December 2017 Final Exam – Question #3How could using several methodological approaches regarding one’s participants/research benefit the researcher and their study? Why/how might it be beneficial? Why/how could it prove problematic?There are several benefits to be gained from using several methodological approaches in qualitative research that can benefit not only the researcher and the participants but also the research study as a whole. Although the desirability of using several methodological approaches in qualitative research is beneficial, in my opinion, successfully doing so (and proving one is successfully doing so) could prove problematic. Case studies, interviews, surveys, focus groups, and the like can provide a rich pool of research data with opportunities for both researcher and participant to participate in the knowledge-making and gathering process. However, I think some researchers may find in challenging to make full use of the wealth of data this multiple-methods approach supplies.
I think part of the problem lies in the fact that some qualitative researchers, who often employ a multi-method approach, may feel as if their research will not be found to be sufficiently rigorous enough to shed light on complex social phenomenon, especially if the researcher is attempting to work in tandem with quantitative researchers or would have to defend their research to a quantitative-heavy body of fellow researchers, professors, etc. Even though there may be a growing consensus in the field of research that finds real value in a multiple-methods approach, there probably needs to be more guidelines regarding effective use of multiple-methods approaches. Researchers and their participants need to understand that a multiple-methods approach is about more than simply using a wider range and array of data collection methods. Multiple-methods approaches are about diversifying one’s ways of knowing, allowing more voices and experiences to come to the table and join the body of research that can impact the lives of underrepresented people and communities.Research that is highly focused on quantitative methods and qualitative research that limits its focuses on gathering data via one methodology can fail to capture elusive, but highly informative, aspects of research participation, such as understanding participants’ perceptions surrounding a particular issue, attitudes toward an issue, capturing the nuances of reactions and coping mechanisms. For example, as a teacher-researcher studying methods of integrating technology into the secondary, Title I ELAR (English, Language Arts, and Reading) classroom, it is important not only to collect facts and figures, but to have some method of recording that which can be hard to quantify, such as teacher’s attitudes toward technology, and tracking of instances where students appear to reject technology applied in a given academic context versus a (non-academic) social media context.
These kinds of observations may require multiple methods for capturing data to be used as part of the body of research. This not only contributes vital information to the research study, but it gives researchers and participants multiple avenues for exploring and expanding upon the research questions under consideration. In the end, if done with care and discipline, this can enhance rather than detract from one’s research. It is the job of the researcher to understand each methodology and where it can be most effectively employed.
Research in the field of social sciences seem to employ data collection and analysis methods that seem to rely heavily on contextual methods that attempt to interpret human experience within the sociocultural, socioeconomic, and political trappings of a neighborhood, community, or social group. Non-contextual methods seem to rely more on methods that strive to extract data from observations of the social group for purposes of gauging trends that have more of a general application. The need for generalizability is one of the factors behind some discrediting qualitative research methods in general. However, if research is in part about who has the power of knowledge-making and who gets heard in that sphere of influence, then, ultimately, someone will be silenced if generalizability and the reproducibility of research methods is privileged to the extent that research that cannot stand up to those more quantitative strictures gets ignored.
However, one way to address the issue of generalizability and reproducibility of research methods is to employ a research paradigm that takes a more integrated approach where, in addition to utilizing multiple qualitative methods of research, the researcher integrates some quantitative methods into the mix. For example, a qualitative researcher could work with a quantitative researcher and collaborate on finding ways to present some qualitative research quantitatively. Perhaps the presentation of some qualitative research in this manner would provide the opportunity for the generalizability that is so often sought outside of the humanities and the social sciences. Entities, such as policy makers, have a vested interest in knowing whether or not a set of research findings can be generalized to wider populations. In this case, this generalizability is important. In teacher-research for example, it is the lament of many a classroom teacher that what she observes in the classroom is often discounted and overlooked as merely an issue that is occurring in isolation within one classroom and is not credited as valuable input from a credible source.
If teacher-researchers are too hesitant to consider employing quantitative methods, being open to a mixed methods approach, then they may be denying themselves the opportunity to have their valuable research impact policy. It appears that more traditional research methods are often inadequate when it comes go capturing the views of “outsiders,” the underrepresented and/or the misrepresented. In order to rectify this going forward, I think multi-method research and mixed-methods research, which can create a space for quantitative research in a qualitative research context. The research protocol of the qualitative approach can allow for the protocol to be modified or altered during the course of the study to better fit the changing relationship dynamic between participant and researcher or to address new research questions that emerge over the course of the study. This flexibility provides much more opportunity for the engagement of the “outsider,” the underrepresented and/or misrepresented to enter the dialogue at various points in the study.
The ability to modify the research protocol, the opportunity for information to be entered in the form of narrative text, the utilization of participatory methods that allow research participants to play an active and influential part in decisions which affect their lives, all play a role in the type of community activism that can take place as a result of embracing several methodological approaches.This means that people are not just listened to, but also heard; and that their voices are allowed to shape outcomes that can positively impact their communities. If qualitative research is the systematic inquiry into societal systems in their natural settings, then, the researcher is observing how research participants are moving through their lives, how the participants behave under a specific set of circumstances, how they function, and how they interact, what shapes their relationships take under a set of given circumstances. If a researcher is to be successful at such a complex challenge, then the research framework may have to be continuously revised on the