This essay talks about qualitative research. It is to discuss my understanding of qualitative research from my reading and discussion in qualitative research class. It briefly covers the definition of qualitative research, research paradigms, research designs, and characteristics of qualitative research. It also describes the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative research, differences with quantitative, data collection and data analysis techniques of qualitative studies. The last part of this essay raises some explanation of why qualitative research is important especially in educational research. Definition
Beginning with the definition of qualitative, just like all researches, qualitative research is a type of research that seeks answers to a question. It is systematically conducted and it also involves the collection of evidence of the research process; data collection, data analysis and report writing (Creswell, 2012). However, the uniqueness of qualitative research is that it captures people’s live experience of the social world instead of world of nature (Liamputtong, 2009). It reveals the social reality of individuals, groups, and cultures. The study involves the description and analysis of behavior, perspectives, feeling, thought, experiences, social actions of people and what lies at the core of people lives (Holloway & Wheeler, 2002; McMillan & Schumacher, 2001). Therefore, qualitative research is mostly recognised as the social studies which obtain specific information of a particular issue. Paradigm
In exploring the social phenomena, a researcher must select the research paradigm properly. As it is explained on encyclopedia of qualitative research (2008, p.591), a paradigm is a set of assumptions and perceptual orientations of the research. It is the basic belief that guides the researchers represent the range of phenomena in relationships to the world and its part (Denzin & Lincoln, 1994). It determines how researchers view the phenomena of particular community studies and the research methods that should be employed to study those phenomena (Given, 2008). Thereof, research paradigm can be understood as an important part which determines the research method appropriately. Interpretivist /constructivist, and criticalist are the two paradigms of qualitative research. These paradigms lead the researchers to reveal the phenomena in social study. As Interpretivist believe that people act because they choose to act (Emilia, 2000; Snape & Spencer, 2003), the study under interpretive paradigm will recognize and describe the value of human social reality which attach meaning (Nunan, 1993; Holloway & Wheeler, 2002). Instead of determining the issue statistically as natural science, interpretivist explains social science by the interpretation of the action in community. Those interpretations would be based on the interpretivist understanding of people construct reality. There are two research methods under interpretive approach; case study and ethnography (Emilia, 2000). A case study is an exploration of a "bounded system" or a case (or multiple cases) to understand in-depth and detail data collection involving multiple sources of information rich in context (Creswell, 1998). This bounded system is bounded by time and place in which involving a natural socio-cultural and face to face interaction. (McMillan & Schumacher, 2001). It provides an investigation of real people in real situation, enabling readers to understand phenomenon within its real-life context, presenting them in which multiple sources of evidence are used (Cohen, et al, 2007; Nunan 1993). As it is followed, a case study is a research approach in which a phenomenon is studied in depth of a small group of participants. A bit different with case study, ethnography involves the study of the culture/characteristics of a group in real-world rather than laboratory settings (Nunan, 1993). The interpretation describes the patterns of behavior, customs,...
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