ERIC Number: EJ781718
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Myths and Misconceptions about Using Qualitative Methods in Assessment
Harper, Shaun R.; Kuh, George D.
New Directions for Institutional Research, n136 p5-14 Win 2007
The value of qualitative assessment approaches has been underestimated primarily because they are often juxtaposed against long-standing quantitative traditions and the widely accepted premise that the best research produces generalizable and statistically significant findings. Institutional researchers avoid qualitative methods for at least three reasons. First, they are more comfortable with the quantitative paradigm, the kinds of questions it addresses, the tools to answer these questions, and statistical forms of sense making. Second, they are at the same time unfamiliar with qualitative methods, its assumptions, and standards of rigor and trustworthiness. Third, they have been socialized to accept the supposed superiority of qualitative methods. In this article, the authors endorse the use of qualitative approaches because they can help answer some of the complex, vexing questions that concern various stakeholders in higher education. Yet despite growing recognition of the power and utility of qualitative assessment methods, concerns remain about employing these approaches in institutional research. Thus, the authors dispel ten common misconceptions about using qualitative methods in assessment, while acknowledging the relative strengths and limitations of these approaches.
Descriptors: Research Methodology, Qualitative Research, Institutional Research, Methods, Researchers, Misconceptions, Evaluation Methods, Statistical Analysis, Generalization, Educational Policy, Data Collection, Interviews, Inquiry, Higher Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A