Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Learning to Appraise the Quality of Qualitative Research Articles: A Contextualized Learning Object for Constructing Knowledge

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Learning to Appraise the Quality of Qualitative Research Articles: A Contextualized Learning Object for Constructing Knowledge

Article excerpt

Introduction and Rationale

Helping beginning qualitative researchers critically appraise qualitative research articles is a common learning objective for introductory methodology courses. The learning activity allows students to become acquainted with the form of qualitative research reports, to identify key parts of a qualitative research article, and to judge the quality of authors' representations of methods and findings. The developmental levels of beginners may also make the activity a challenge due to the students' lack of fundamental knowledge of what elements constitute a qualitative research article let alone what may define a "best practice" in qualitative research reports. In addition, the shear variety of qualitative research methods and criteria for assessing quality of qualitative research result presentations (Cohen & Crabtree, 2008) can make acquisition of competencies in this area quite challenging.

To aid students in achieving competency I have designed and used an assignment called "Appraising the Quality of Qualitative Research Articles" to evaluate qualitative research reports. The assignment consists of multi-part task in which students locate three qualitative research articles, assess the retrieved articles using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme's (CASP) Making Sense of Evidence Tool: 10 Questions to Help You Make Sense of Qualitative Research (http://www.phru.nhs.uk/Doc Links/Qualitative%20Appraisal%20Tool.pdf), write of their assessment of each article, and compare and contrast the relative quality of the articles.

In this paper I will share this assignment as a reusable learning object--"self-describing, self-contained small chunks of learning that accomplish a specific learning objective (Oakes, 2002) or as Wiley (2002a, p. 6) describes them, "any digital resource that can be reused to support learning" (Chenail, 2004, p. 113). The style in which I will present this learning object is known as CLOCKs or "Contextualized Learning Objects for Constructing Knowledge." In contrast to other ways of rendering learning objects, CLOCKs are described in terms of their contexts, evaluation components, exemplary outcomes, and options for customizing the parts of the CLOCK (Chenail, 2004).

Appraising Articles with the CASP Tool

I drew upon the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme's (CASP) Making Sense of Evidence Tool: 10 Questions to Help You Make Sense of Qualitative Research to give the appraising assignment structure and to help students engage qualitative research articles efficiently. I have also found the use of the CASP tool provides students with the scaffolding they need to begin to make distinctions within qualitative research articles and to have a system within which they can compare and contrast articles relative quality. The CASP tool contains 10 questions designed to help readers appraise qualitative research reports broadly in terms of rigor, credibility, and relevance. The tool is not meant to be a definitive guide, but rather presents probes students can use to identify the salient features of a qualitative research article and to note what elements may be missing from a report.

The CASP tool's ten questions help the students begin to identify the basic parts of a research article (e.g., sample, data collection, data analysis, and results) and to consider how well the author presented the steps taken in each of these areas during the study and the rationales for making each of these decisions. As the students query the article from the perspective of the CASP's questions, they can begin to appreciate the quality of these texts and to see how the theoretical and conceptual material presented in an introductory qualitative research textbook is operationalized (e.g., Creswell, 2006) and practiced in actual qualitative research articles.

The use of the CASP tool also helps the assignment become a mini-data analysis activity as students must first conduct a within-case analysis of each individual article and then an across-case analysis in which they compare and contrast the three articles. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.