Presentation on theme: "Standards for Qualitative Research in Education"— Presentation transcript:
1 Standards for Qualitative Research in Education Margaret Eisenhart
2 A Prolegomenon on Standards Howe, K. & Eisenhart, M. (1990). Standards for qualitative (and quantitative) research: A prolegomenon. Educational Researcher, 19 (4), 2-9.
3 The Trajectory of Debate 1980-90 - Entrenched quantitative methods and standards vs. a highly suspect newcomer- Two strands:1. Research methods vs. epistemologies2. Research methods for different purposes
4 Our position: Side with the second strand Distinguish standards for specific research designs from standards for the general value of an educational research studyFocus on standards for general value
5 The Nature of General Standards AbstractRefer to the educational value (or value added)Apply to both quantitative and qualitative methods
6 5 General Standards (guiding principles) Specific data collection and analysis methods must be competently applied.Contributions from previous theories, previous research, other relevant literature and researcher subjectivity (bias) should be made explicitThe fit between research questions, data collection and data analysis should be clear.
7 Value constraints must be recognized and met. Overall warrant (validity) must be established by rejecting rival or alternative inferences or explanations.Value constraints must be recognized and met.--Educational research should be valuable to education (external value).--Educational research should be ethical (internal value).
8 What’s Happened to the Debate about Qualitative Standards since 1990? Epistemology takes center stageInternal value constraints receive lots of attentionOther general standards receive little attention
9 National Research Council Committee on Scientific Principles in Education Research (est. 2000). NRC (2000). Scientific research in education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
10 SRE’s 6 General Principles for High Quality, Scientific Research in Education Pose significant questions that can be investigated empirically2. Link research to relevant theoryUse methods that permit direct investigation of the question
11 Provide a coherent and explicit chain of reasoning Replicate and generalize across studiesDisclose research to encourage professional scrutiny and debate
12 Side-by Side Comparison Howe & Eisenhart1. Competent application of methodsExternal contributions made explicitFit of research questions, data collection and analysisOverall warrant establishedInternal and external value constraints metNRC1. Link research to relevanttheory2. Use appropriate methods3. Pose significant questions4. Provide a chain of reasoning5. Replicate and generalize6. Disclose research for scrutiny and debate
13 Can We Talk about Shared Standards for the Trustworthiness (Validity and Reliability) of Educational Research?I think so, but both qualitative and quantitative researchers have to take this effort seriously.
14 Necessary First Steps (qualitative and quantitative) Share a definition of trustworthinessOne possibility: When the evidence for the results reported is sound and when the argument made based on the results is strongMake strategies for achieving trustworthiness a formal component of all research designs
15 Qualitative Strategies for Trustworthiness Identify threats to understanding (of social context, meanings, a group, etc.) in situ.Key Q: How could the researcher’s understandings be wrong?
16 Key ReferencesMaxwell, J. (1996). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Maxwell, J. (2002). Understanding and validity in qualitative research. In A.M. Huberman & M.B. Miles (Eds.) The qualitative researcher’s companion (pp ). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
17 4 Kinds of Understandings that Qualitative Research Provides Descriptive understandingInterpretive understandingTheoretical understandingGeneralizability
18 Descriptive validity: Could the description be wrong? Descriptive accounts must be factually accurate—where the physical, concrete, or behavioral details are agreed to by both researcher(s) and participants.
19 Main strategies to reduce threat: Main threat:Inaccurate or incomplete evidenceMain strategies to reduce threat:Detailed evidenceTriangulation of data sources
20 Interpretive validity: Could the interpretation be wrong? Interpretations must be meaningful to study participants, or meaningful from the participants’ perspective.
21 Main strategies to reduce threat: Main threat:Imposing the researcher’s own perspectiveMain strategies to reduce threat:Systematic testing of emergent interpretations against participants’ words and actionsMember checks
22 Theoretical validity: Could the theory be wrong? A theory must provide a good explanation for the phenomena studied. Both the concepts and the relationships among them must be valid.
23 Main strategies to reduce threat: Main threat:Discrepant data, negative cases, or rival explanations not taken seriouslyMain strategies to reduce threat:Systematic attempts to find discrepant data and disprove alternative explanationsConsensus of other researchers
24 Qualitative generalization 2 kindsInternal (within group or site, but beyond those studied directly)External (to other groups or sites)
25 Main threat to internal generalizability: Those observed and interviewed not typical of whole groupMain strategy to reduce threat:Purposeful samplingSurveying
26 Main threats to external generalizability: Phenomena studied is a special or idiosyncratic caseMain strategies to reduce threat:Site selectionAssess generalizability of theory or big idea, not findings
27 A Note on ReliabilityQualitative research does not attempt to eliminate variance between researchers or the researcher’s influence on the setting.It does attempt to illuminate how a researcher’s values, expectations, and background influence the study.
29 ConclusionGeneral standards for qualitative (or quantitative) research in education are within our reach, but to get there, we must get passed epistemological battles and turn our attention squarely to standards for trustworthiness (validity) that are meaningful (relevant) and useful in our field.