Research instruments for perceptual study

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  • #5232
    Ahmad Salih
    Participant

    I’m doing a research to understand the perception of participants (doctoral students) of how they think their degree might have an impact on their professional development. I wonder if there are certain instruments (I’m not sure this is the proper term) researchers use for similar study. In summary, I’m looking for tools to help me ask the proper questions.

    Thanks,
    Ahmad

    #5244

    You might want to do a few focus groups initially to give you an idea about themes and then it would clarify what instruments you should use. Such as, if ‘stress’ comes out as a theme then you could use an instrument that measures stress or if a theme is ‘trying to please everyone’ then you could use a social desirability instrument. This way in your methods you can say that you triangulated, that way you can substantiate the choice of instruments.

    #5243
    Sunny Bose
    Member

    Ahmad,

    In this case you search for scales that measure the perception of students regarding their education. I think any handbook of education scales or psychology scales might be a good start.

    #5242

    Hi Ahmad,

    You really need to get an understanding of where you are as a researcher before jumping in and deciding what research instruments/tools you need use. Are you a qualitative or quantitative researcher? Where do you postion youself in regard to how you understand research epistomologically and ontologically? Reflect on you own experiences to decide how you think research comes to know and understand how the world/society ‘works’.

    I personally would seek to develop a deep understanding of doctoral students experiences and perceptions and as such would use a qualitative research strategy. This could entail conducting in-depth, unstructured interviews to elicit the various views and understandings doctoral students have regarding their educational experience. I would then conduct a constant comparison analysis of the converstations to develop a framework from which I could then use to explain the diversity and complexity of the ‘lived’ experience.

    Contemplate your research position before launching into your study. Discuss your ideas with others and then decide.

    Good luck.

    #5241
    Ahmad Salih
    Participant

    Thanks Lisaann,

    Your idea about the focus groups is insightful, but I’m not sure if I’ll have opportunity. I currently live in Kuwait and I intend to conduct my research (the data collection part) during one the residencies organized by the university in the USA. I’ll see if such opportunity exist. The idea of looking for themes through focus groups is very interesting.

    Thanks.

    #5240
    Ahmad Salih
    Participant

    Thanks Sunny,

    I am not aware of the “research scales” measures. Could you please recommend a handbook for me?

    Thanks.

    #5239
    Ahmad Salih
    Participant

    Thanks Richard,

    I am definitely a qualitative researcher. In terms of where I am as a research, I realize that I am at the bottom of the ladder. If you check my profile, you will see that I have already indicated that I am an amateur researcher. The only research I have conducted was my MBA thesis. I am probably still learning the basics. However, although I am in a professional doctorate program (DBA) and I do not plan to teach (at least not in the foreseeable future), I want to enhance my research skills and understanding. It is a learning experience for me.

    I agree, and this is why I intend to use a qualitative research strategy. What’s a ‘constant comparison analysis’? How might I learn more about it?

    Richard, I appreciate that you took the time to respond to my question with such details.

    Thanks.

    #5238

    Ahmad
    I saw from your other posts that you consider yourself a qualitative researcher so I have an idea that might work for you since you have to conduct the study remotely. I have just finished a qualitative study where I interviewed the subjects by instant messaging. I am in the middle of writing it up for publication. But the gist was I was not local and could not easily conduct interviews with the subject either in person or on the phone. Plus the subject matter was sensitive. So, I interviewed subjects by using AOL instant messaging. I did have a local coordinator who recruited the subjects but you might be able to recruit by e-mail blasts at university campuses (I know the campus I am at will do that if you get approval) once you get a few subjects you could resort to snowball sampling. I set up a series of AOL IM accounts that I had control of the name and password and then gave the subjects the AOL account name, password and set up a time that both of us would be online together. I then asked the questions and probes by typing them and they typed the responses. At the end of the interview I saved the session so the interview was already transcribed for analysis. The beauty of this was I could interview them, and probe without the cost of in person or phone interviews and there was no transcription costs. It took some work getting this protocol through the IRB but it was very worthwhile, actually, it took a lot of work getting it through the IRB but it did work. Then you would at least know what constructs/ themes you need to explore in your instruments.
    Lisaann

    #5237
    Ahmad Salih
    Participant

    Lisaann, thank you so much. This is a wonderful suggestion. I was thinking of using Skype. But what you did, using AOL IM, makes it easier. As you mentioned, no transcription is needed, the text is there for you. Magnificent.

    Thanks Lisaann. I appreciate your interest in my post.

    Have a nice evening.

    #5236
    Ahmad Salih
    Participant

    OK here are some follow-up questions:

    1. I will conduct my study on students from one university (my school). Does that weaken the research? How generalizable will my results be?

    2. In qualitative research, using in-depth interviews, is there a minimum number of participants that I should seek? Or does that depend of the nature of the study?

    Thanks.

    #5235

    Hi Ahmad,

    You have identified yourself as a qualitative researcher. As such you will need to explore what type of qualitative research would best suit your research focus (ethnography, phenomenology, grounded theory for example).

    You have indicated you will be conducting the study at one university. That is fine. It would be good to seek out students from a variety of disciplines, though this is not necessary either.

    You have indicated you may have access to students while in residency in the US. You could use this stay to establish a rapport and initial interviews with students and then continue to discuss the topic with them via email or AOL IM as suggested by Lisaann.

    Qualitative research does not actually require a minimum number of participants however you will need to obtain enough data from those involved to enable you to conduct an adequate analysis to assist in answering your research question.

    In regard to ‘constant comparison analysis’, this is widely used in qualitative research, particularly in the grounded theory methodology. There are a number of publications that provide useful explanations of this analysis technique. Check out authors such as Barney Glaser, or Anselm Strauss & Juliet Corbin, or Kathy Charmaz, or Antony Brynat, or Christine Golding (there are plenty of others as well).

    You also need to refrain from trying to force your qualitative study into being generalizable. This is not an applicable concept. A qualitative study should be viewed as trustworthy, credible and relevant rather than judged by its ability to be able to generalise across contexts. Can I suggest you read publication/papers by Norman Denzin, Egon Guba, Yvonne Lincoln or combinations of these authors.

    #5234
    Ahmad Salih
    Participant

    Hi Richard,

    I cannot thank you enough for such great advice and suggestions. I believe a phenomenological strategy would best suit my research focus, as I plan to study a small number of subjects through extensive engagement and try to identify patterns and relationships of meaning (Moustakas, 1994). Your suggestion of interviewing a group of participants in the residency and continue the discussion later vial email/IM is insightful.

    I agree, as a social science researcher, I should realize and accept that an ideal world is not attainable and that any study may never be generalizable.

    Thanks for the suggested readings. I will certainly read some of these titles.

    Happy New Year to the MethodSpace community.

    #5233
    Nadia Ahouari_Idri
    Participant

    Dear Ahmad:
    You can first test whether your topic is feasible or not, but I’m not quite sure about the word degree, does it mean the academic results they got or their proficiency? In both cases, can pilot first the theme and think of the method before the instruments. You can in this case use a case study research. It’s better to use mixed metods. If the number of PhD students is important, you can use the quantitative method first, a thing which is not certain. Hence, you can use observation as technique and create your own observation scheme for a period of time. After this phase, you can use the interview as means to have more details of individuals and have a face to face contact with advanced learners. That’s just a suggestion, but many choices can be possible because the topic seems still wide and needs more limitation.
    Best egards: nadia

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