Qualitative Research in Education: Focus and Methods

Qualitative Research in Education: Focus and Methods

Qualitative Research in Education: Focus and Methods

Qualitative Research in Education: Focus and Methods

Excerpt

With two exceptions-'lnside Lives: The Quality of Biography' and 'Putting Life into Educational Research'-the papers that appear in this collection are reprinted from the Journal of Thought, Volume 19, Number 2 (Summer, 1984), pp. 24-29 ('Qualitative Research: A Theme Issue'); and Volume 21, Number 3 (Fall, 1986), entire issue ('Qualitative Research: A Special Topic Edition'). They are reprinted with the permission of the authors and the Editor of Journal of Thought. We express our appreciation to Dr Chipman G. Stuart, the Editor, for the opportunity first to publish our views and then for permission to republish them. Dr Stuart has shown that editing a journal is more than a service; it is a distinct contribution to research.

Our thanks also to Dr Samuel D. Andrews, our colleague in Foundations of Education at the University of Florida, who helped in preparing the first issue of Journal of Thought. We wish to thank Falmer Press Limited, Mr Malcolm W. Clarkson, Managing Director; and Dr Ivor G. Goodson, member of the Board of Directors, for arranging to have the papers republished. Because they have gone out of print in their previous form, their republication makes them available for continued use by students and others interested in qualitative research. We also appreciate the authors' willingness to have their ideas exposed to a wider audience.

Our aim with this collection is to clarify and explain some of the different approaches and methods by which 'qualitative' research in education is being conducted and to develop a sense of what is meant by the term 'qualitative'. It is not our view that qualitative research is an alternative, or an antagonist, to quantitative research. We want any research to be rigorous and productive. The contributors explain how that can be accomplished with various kinds of qualitative methods. Our aim also is to provoke discussion and further elaboration of the issues and methods that are represented, so we have taken seriously the matter of citing documentation and giving references for further reading.

A word about the title of the collection. We think it is important to stress the idea of a unity among the methods. There appears to be a general or generic idea of qualitative research that is in the background of all the contributions. But to avoid reductionism or debate over 'unified science', we emphasize unity of 'focus'. The several methods appear to have a similar focus. 'Focus' should be enough to give the sense of what is meant by 'the qualitative' and how qualitative methods are related.

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