Make haste slowly…the value of pausing in doing qualitative research

“Make haste slowly” were words of advice given to me by the principal in the first school that I taught in many years ago. Terry, as he was known to teachers and staff, had many years of teaching and administration experience. His office appeared somewhat disorganized, with stacks of papers piled on his desk. Yet, rather than sitting in his office, Terry could often be seen walking around the school grounds, talking to children, teachers, and parents. He frequently dropped by my classroom to see what was going on. These were friendly, supportive and encouraging visits, and Terry allotted specific time for me to gain mentorship from a more experienced teacher.  As a young teacher I was enthusiastic to try out new ideas, although I did not always consider these within a broader context. Terry’s advice to me still lingers:  “Make haste slowly.” At the time, I did not fully realize what he was getting at, but with the years, I’ve come to appreciate this advice. In particular, I’ve come to understand that to do qualitative research of quality, slow work might be needed. What is the value of completing tasks slowly in a world in which we are continually pressed to do more, faster, in shorter time frames? Continue reading “Make haste slowly…the value of pausing in doing qualitative research”

Qualitative Research for Social Justice

Some have argued that research for social justice compromises the scientific process. For example, Hammersley and Gomm, in their article, “Bias in social research” argue that research that aims to promote “some practical or political cause” is a threat to the scientific community. Others have argued that research is always and already part of the political research process – that there is no impartial stance that researchers can take when studying the social world (e.g., see Haraway, 1988 on the “god trick”). The third edition of the Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research, edited by Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln (2005) takes an explicitly critical perspective to research. Scholars who have taken up Denzin’s call to arms (2010) assert that qualitative research must be used to change the world in positive ways. How might qualitative researchers approach this task? Where might one begin? Below I discuss several texts that discuss approaches that forefront issues of social justice. Continue reading “Qualitative Research for Social Justice”

Examining the archives

This year I have been involved in a program that introduces faculty to archival collections at my institution, the University of Georgia (UGA). I have been learning about how archival collections are organized and catalogued, how to locate information that is useful for research purposes, and what to do next. I have a lot to learn! Continue reading “Examining the archives”

Tips on transcribing qualitative interviews and naturally-occurring interaction

After interviews have been conducted or events have been recorded, the task of transcription begins. For those who have not transcribed before, it is easy to under-estimate the amount of time needed to transcribe interviews and interaction. What does transcription entail? Continue reading “Tips on transcribing qualitative interviews and naturally-occurring interaction”

What I learned about qualitative research from learning how to weave

Sometimes, learning a new skill can illuminate central issues to do with what is already known. Over the last two years, I have been learning how to weave. This was something I have wanted to do for a long time, so I was really excited as a beginner. I started with some basics.weaving Continue reading “What I learned about qualitative research from learning how to weave”

Call for proposals: Southern History of Education Society

The Southern History of Education Society will be holding their annual conference March 10-11, 2017 at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. There is still time to submit an abstract to the conference. See the proposal guidelines below. For more information about the conference, go to Southern History of Education Society 2017 Annual Conference Continue reading “Call for proposals: Southern History of Education Society”

Common failings in first (and sometimes later) drafts

Sometimes you come across some good advice that stands the test of time. Such is the case of a chapter I came across many years ago written by British educational researcher, Peter Woods. In this chapter, Woods (1985) talks about the “false solutions” that we sometimes use to counter the pain of writing up our research (p. 100). Woods refers to various flaws in argumentation that prevent researchers from making the best possible case in writing up findings from qualitative research studies. By avoiding these kinds of arguments, we not only improve our writing, but make a stronger case for using qualitative methods to examine the social world. Below is a brief summary of Woods’ list of “common failings.” Continue reading “Common failings in first (and sometimes later) drafts”

Tips on conducting qualitative interviews

The ubiquity of the “interview” in contemporary society can mask what Harold Garfinkel (1967) termed the “seen-but-unnoticed” work that goes into everyday activity. For researchers, an important routine activity is the conduct of a “good” interview. In qualitative research, interviewing is one of the most popular and widely-used methods to generate data. For novices to research, it may come as a surprise that conducting an interview with a stranger is not quite as easily accomplished as one might anticipate. What strategies help with generating the kinds of data in qualitative interviews that might be used to examine research questions? Here are some tips… Continue reading “Tips on conducting qualitative interviews”