ERIC Number: ED319759
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Theory and Concepts in Qualitative Research: A Theory of Methodology in a Study of Directed Change.
Mills, Geoffrey E.
The importance of theory in qualitative work is discussed through an examination of the search for theory that arose in relation to a case study of educational change in an American school district. Theory is defined as an analytical, interpretive framework to help the researcher make sense of what is going on in the social setting. Certain propositions may be described as "foreshadowed problems" (in contrast to "preconceived ideas") revealed through educational and cultural change literature. These propositions were the foundation of beliefs about educational change. The concepts of "process" and "function" as defined by R. K. Merton (1967) were essential to the study. The search for theory to support the multiple levels of change observed in the McKenzie school district is detailed. It is suggested that theory has the following roles in qualitative research: (1) identifying theoretical concerns about selectivity of data and implied theoretical biases; (2) helping the researcher acknowledge competing theories and the limitations of any singular perspective; (3) providing a framework for addressing a problem; (4) allowing the anticipation of problems and an initial analysis of a research problem; (5) allowing the study to search for increasing levels of abstraction to move beyond a purely descriptive account; (6) providing a means for judging qualitative research; and (7) promoting creativity through the search for a theory of best fit. (SLD)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Boston, MA, April 16-20, 1990).