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Children and Young Peoples Services Q methodology -combining the best of qualitative and quantitative techniques John Bradley Nottingham University 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Children and Young Peoples Services Q methodology -combining the best of qualitative and quantitative techniques John Bradley Nottingham University 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Children and Young Peoples Services Q methodology -combining the best of qualitative and quantitative techniques John Bradley Nottingham University 2009

2 Aims of the workshop Describe Q methodology Locate it within quantitative and qualitative approaches What sort of research questions it is useful for? Illustrate its use from my research Look at some Q data

3 Limitations of existing methodologies Quantitative- surveys with large samples but narrow answers Qualitative – richer interview and focus group material but… …concerns about reporting qualitative material

4 Archer, L. and M. Hutchinson (2001). "Higher than Einstein: constructions of going to university among working class non- participants." Research Papers in Education 16(1): our respondents constructed two very different pictures of HE. One was of Oxbridge and campus universities, pleasant environments in which middle- class students, who had gained entry with good A- levels, and who have adequate financial support, are able to enjoy either leisure (partying, drinking) or study (as boffins), and can look forward to achieving prestigious degrees and careers. The second construction was of rather unattractive buildings in which skint working-class students (who had entered through vocational qualifications, or through Access or special entry) have to work hard under considerable pressure, combining study with a job and having little time for social life. This second picture was the sort of HE that our respondents generally talked about as available to them, and they saw it as inferior to real HE.

5 majority discourse minority discourse no evidence..our respondents constructed two very different pictures of HE. One was of Oxbridge and campus universities, pleasant environments in which middle- class students, who had gained entry with good A- levels, and who have adequate financial support, are able to enjoy either leisure (partying, drinking) or study (as boffins), and can look forward to achieving prestigious degrees and careers. The second construction was of rather unattractive buildings in which skint working-class students (who had entered through vocational qualifications, or through Access or special entry) have to work hard under considerable pressure, combining study with a job and having little time for social life. This second picture was the sort of HE that our respondents generally talked about as available to them, and they saw it as inferior to real HE.

6 Looking for a methodology : Give rich, detailed complex accounts Rebalance the power of the researcher and participant Transparent processes of analysis Well warranted accounts

7 And would be… Engaging for participants Interesting to use Have wide range of applications …novel

8 Q – the traditional story William Stephenson Spearman, Burt and factor analysis in search of g Stephenson came to reject the model

9 Using factor analysis to map opinions (subjectivity) Spearman gave people tests and factor analysed the test scores (by item FA) Stephenson asked people to express their views and applied factor analysis to the pattern of responses (by person FA) ….to explore the pattern of opinions around a topic he looked at people measuring rather than being measured – correlating persons instead of tests (Brown 1995)

10 The British Postmodernist interest in Q a collective of British critical psychologists social constructionist and postmodernist approaches have lacked any attempt to find new methods Numerical data has been treated as suspect (intrinsically masculinized, positivist) a quest for new methods of scrutiny a systematic approach to DA

11 Both traditional and critical approaches are Interested in the flow of ideas Interested in patterns of opinion not in quantification Interested in preserving minority voices

12 Q methodology Collect a concourse of statements Select representative Q sample The Q –sort Sorted according to a condition of instruction Factor analysis (by-person not by-item) Interpretation

13 Q methodology Collect a concourse of statements Select representative Q sample The Q –sort Sorted according to a condition of instruction Factor analysis (by-person not by-item) Interpretation

14 Statements… Even if your not keen on the course its worth doing it anyway to have the university experience University students are poor Its hard to go to university if youre the first one in your family to do it Going away to university breaks you away from your real friends

15 Mini- activity In your area of research interest: Identify a contentious issue Think of some of the statements in the concourse around your topic

16 Q methodology Collect a concourse of statements Select representative Q sample The Q –sort Sorted according to a condition of instruction Factor analysis (by-person not by-item) Interpretation

17 Most Disagree Most Agree The layout for a 60 item Q sort

18 Doing a Q sort Read the statements and roughly sort in to 3 piles – agree/dont know/disagree Then sort them out on to the sorting sheet Keep going till you are happy with the result

19 Most Disagree Most Agree

20 Analysing the data Exploratory factor analysis Grouping together participants with similar viewpoints By-person FA Contrast with typical use of FA in psychology which is by-item PQMethod

21 Describing each viewpoint (factor ) PQMethod gives rich detailed data Description of each viewpoint (factor) Comparisons between viewpoints (factor) Distinguishing statements Consensus statements Take a look at some of my data

22 My data came from 53 participants Year 12 students Studying for level 3 qualifications From former coalfield communities

23 The five viewpoints… 1.Positive 2.Put off 3.Perplexed 4.Pragmatic 5.Other plans

24 Beyond the Q study Q gives the pattern of views but makes no claim to quantify these – use Q to design a survey (Q Block ) Use the Q findings as the basis for a content analysis (my thesis) Feed back the Q findings to promote dialogue and solution finding (environmental issues)

25 Activity - PMI Pluses – what seem to be the positives of Q methodology? Minuses – what seem to be the drawbacks of Q methodology? Interesting – what other issues strike you and leave you thinking – thats interesting Chat in twos or threes then well open up

26 Further reading Handout

27 Evaluation of the session WWW (What worked well…) EBI (It would have been even better if…)

28 Additional material

29 Content analysis of a prospectus

30 Viewpoint (factor) 2 Strongly held statements: You might get to university and find you dont fit in What to do after school is the first really important choice you have to take in life Im really not sure what to do next after school Choosing a course and a university is stressful Distinguishing statements: I dont even want to think beyond the next year or so In the long run Id earn more as a graduate Boring lectures, writing essays: university would drive me mad Once youve been to university you dont fit in so well, back where you came from

31 Content analysis: One of the statements factor 2 feels strongly about is: Choosing a course and a university is stressful. Coders identified the sentence: Choosing a university is often difficult and confusing, however your decision might be made easier by asking yourself certain questions… as referring to that issue.

32 Another example: At university you dont really get that much support from the teachers/ lecturers, so its all down to you. We provide you with the practical support you need to flourish.

33 ten Klooster et al (2008) Used the same statements, with the same participants, using Likert questionnaire and Q-sort Compared the results

34 Mean item scores using Q Very high correlation R=.93 Mean item scores using Likert Comparing the overall scores

35 Mean item scores for factor A Mean item scores using Likert Mean item scores for factor B Mean item scores for factor C No correlation Comparing overall Likert picture with individual Q factors

36 Factor array for factor

37 Generating factor arrays Qsort e (.916) Qsort f (.873) Factor 1 Q sort array Qsort d (.758)

38 Abductive methodInductive methodHypothetico–deductive method Sequence: Data– Phenomena– Theory– Theory appraisal Sequence: Data– Theory Sequence: Phenomena– Theory– Data– Theory appraisal Examples: Q–methodology Grounded theory Exploratory factor analysis Example: Stimulus–response studies in radical behaviourism Examples: Most experimental cognitive psychology 1945–present

39 RAW SCORES ParticipantItem AItem BItem CItem D Rate these statements from 10 (strongly agree) to 1 (strongly disagree) (Brown 1980)

40 RAW SCORES ParticipantItem AItem BItem CItem D NORMALISED SCORES ParticipantzAzBzCzD

41 1. Positive Overall this is a positive and optimistic viewpoint on universities, held by a group of pupils who are certain to apply. They anticipate social, developmental, academic and economic benefits from a university education.

42 2. Put off For this viewpoint the perceived benefits of going to university are negated by a fear of not fitting in and of finding the academic side unpalatable. They see the process of deciding as stressful and are adamant that they will not be applying.

43 3. Perplexed Concerns about money, a general sense of uncertainty and puzzlement, a weak sense of any career or social benefits, doubts about the advice received at school and the support they would get at university all combine here to leave these young people only weakly committed to applying to university

44 4. Pragmatic This viewpoint sees the question of going to university as still undecided – they can see good practical reasons for going, they have a broadly positive view of university, but they have not closed down other options and are yet to make up their mind.

45 5. Other plans A viewpoint that is not antagonistic to university – it holds a generally positive view, but is not convinced of its importance to future life chances and holds positive views about alternatives such as an apprenticeship. These young people are saying universities may be fine places, but I dont think I need to go and Ive got other options.

46 Activity In small groups Choose an issue to explore Have a brief discussion Use what emerges from the discussion to devise a set of statements


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