As I learn more about qualitative research, the more I see its implications and usefulness. I traditionally thought qualitative was only about thoughts and feelings. I was told time and time again that qualitative was not “real research” and to “stay away” from researchers that conducted qualitative research. As a young, naive researcher, I never questioned it – we were quantitative researchers.
In the past semester, my views have started to shift (and I hope it continues to shift the more I learn). I’m starting to realize that one side is not better than the other, but instead depends on the research questions. For qualitative, my previous perceptions were that researchers held focus groups and asked a lot of questions or spent years living with a particular group of people and writing down everything they observed. Even though this may be a few examples (and maybe not the best examples), the commonality is the need to understand a particular phenomenon or situation. By gathering information by those directly involved with the situation, a researcher can better understand and contextualize the meaning that people make out of their own experiences. This can be very helpful in a variety of situations, including education (an area that I am currently involved in).
Recently I started to conduct qualitative research at work and it has sparked my interest. I’m in the initial stages of learning how to design qualitative studies. I started working on coding and exploring qualitative research (which I have never experienced before). By using qualitative methods to analyze the data, we are getting a more in-depth analysis of the transformative learning process in students. Using quantitative methods, would have never provided us with this meaningful of data. I’m most excited to not only learn about the designing, analysis, and reporting of qualitative data, but also being about apply what I am learning in class to research I’m conducting at work and other hands-on experiences.