Today I will be discussing qualitative research. Throughout this class so far, we have mainly focused on quantitative research methods and have learned how this method can be applied in our own research as social workers. My goal for this presentation is to provide you with a better understanding about how a qualitative research design could be an effective method to use for the Capstone project next year. First, it is important to understand what qualitative research is and what this method aims to find. So, what is qualitative research? Qualitative research attempts to gain a deeper understanding of social phenomena. This method emphasizes the many meanings, experiences, and views of the research subject. The findings that result from using this research method can help in developing concepts or theories about human experiences in a natural setting. Topics qualitative research can address. By using direct observation, it is especially appropriate to research topics that cannot be fully understood with quantitative data. Qualitative research methods can recognize the details of attitudes or behaviors that other methods may not. So, topics appropriate for qualitative research include: Number 1, Research that attempts to capture participants realities.
Qualitative methods can help to answer questions such as, “What are the lived experiences of homeless people?” or “What is it like being a transgender youth in high school?” These questions seek to understand a person or group’s experiences and views. Number 2, qualitative research methods can be appropriate to understand social phenomena or social processes. This method can help to answer questions such as “How does the media influence adolescent girls self-perception?” or “What factors influence adult males to seek mental health services?” The types of questions that qualitative research can address focus on the “How”, “Why”, or “What” of social phenomena. Like any other research method, qualitative research has strengths and weaknesses that a researcher needs to consider when deciding what method of research to use. Qualitative research has a variety of distinctive strengths. The key strength of this method is the depth of understanding it warrants. This depth of understanding commonly produces detailed illustrations of social processes.
The in-depth understanding of social processes can provide the basis for future research. Another strength of qualitative research is the flexibility this design allows. Not only can you modify the research design at any time, but you can engage in qualitative research whenever the occasion arises. The beauty of direct observation is that it can be done at any time with minimal materials needed. Lastly, the cost of using a qualitative research design can be inexpensive. It can be done by one researcher with a notebook and a pencil. This is definitely something to keep in mind when brainstorming for the Capstone project next year. There are two weaknesses to qualitative research to keep in mind as well. First, is the issue of subjectivity. There is the possibility that results can be biased to the researchers point of view. Qualitative research measures are in-depth which can make the findings really personal. Because of that, the way the researcher would describe a persons, let’s say… personality trait may not be the same as another researcher. Second, Generalizability is a problem for qualitative research as well.
The personal findings of this research make it difficult for another researcher to replicate the results. Also, the findings of this method only provides information about the actual participants being observed. Not everyone in a group acts the same way and even the actual participants attitudes and beliefs can change over time. So, in the near future, we will be beginning to develop our research questions for our capstone project. There has been a lot of time focused on quantitative research in this class as well as gaining practice in using single-case designs. Using a qualitative research design for the capstone project could be a great way to gain understanding of a social process that is of interest to you. It can also be used to help bring attention to a subject that you believe needs to be addressed. By providing the reader with a detailed illustration of the social phenomena, there is an opportunity to bring light onto a social injustice within the community, school, or department, or anything else you may think of. I hope this presentation provided you with ideas for using qualitative research methods for your capstone project. Thank you for listening.