Monday, June 23, 2008

Qualitative vs. Post-hoc analysis

Many of the case studies we've read have involved a researcher studying a classroom experience (ostensibly without interfering with it) and then describing it in terms of some learning theory. This is essentially using the theories in a post-hoc (or after the fact) application and analysis. Does this help or hurt the value of qualitative research?

My guy feeling is that qualitative research has its value but that trying to describe an organic classroom experience in light of a post-hoc applied learning theory will inevitably cause the researcher to miss traits/qualities that are outside of that theories framework.

It seems to me that if we're hell-bent on qualitative analysis and the use of learning theories that we should instead design a program around a learning theory and then do qualitative analysis of that, otherwise we should just analyze the classroom experience for all that it has to offer rather than limiting our field of view to a theory that we're applying after the fact.



Heather said...

Unfortunately, much qualitative research is reduced to hunting down evidence for an already decided truth. There are good methodologies for qualitative work but all too often they are overlooked because ultimately you are dealing with matters that are "unmeasureable" or would be socioculturally unacceptable to measure them even if you could. Once you start truly measuring something then you have skipped into the realm of quantitative. Now you have another problem.

I love Warner but I feel that much of my curriculum is driven by the individual research desires of the faculty and less what I really need to know and think about as a teacher. Perhaps, if they really want us to be teachers with a solid foundation of theory, a class in Education Theories might actually be useful (never had a single article in class by Dewey or Piaget). Perhaps if they want us to be good researchers we need a Methods course and an Action Research course (can anyone here explain in detail ONE qualitative method?). Even Classroom Management can be taught on a foundation of theory ... but then we'd have to have the class.
Warner has the faculty and the mission to be a world class Education Graduate School but until then it will always be an education research generator. This is good, very good, just different.

Dougyfresh04 said...

You def got the point when you talked about unmeasurables. I am feeling the same way on this. i recognize the fact that quantitative educational research is education tends to be reductionist and in two with the tenets of NCLB. However, Warner does not present many alternatives other than works by many of the professors at Warner or their colleagues, much of which I do agree with or at least side with in the long run. Still we have to realize we, as pre-service or in-service teachers are NOT working at schools in Warner. We need to learn and discuss what is going on, other methods, etc.

I think I could explain the basics of Action research. However, after doing an Action research assignment for my innovation in social studies courses, most of my understanding about Action research is the result of my own research

Matt said...

I agree with regard to the problem of unmeasurables and qualitative research. While I do appreciate the viewpoints of many Warner professors, I often ask myself how this would apply in a real world classroom. I recently took a class on technology, where I learned a ton, but what are the chances that a classroom will have a SMARTboard or a laptop for every child. While learning the technological applications was great, I would have been more interested in hearing how teachers overcame these obstacles to incorporating technology or the lack of technological resources.