The next series of articles will focus on exploring qualitative research designs: basic, case study, phenomenological, grounded and ethnography. These articles can help novice qualitative researchers with the ground work involve with doing qualitative research.


Quantitative and qualitative research methods differ in their investigative objectives, types of questions they pose, types of data collection instruments they use, the forms of data they produce, and the degree of flexibility built into the study designs. Merriam (2009) describes a basic qualitative research study as having been derived philosophically from constructionism, phenomenology, and symbolic interaction and is used by researchers who are “interested in (1) how people interpret their experiences, (2) how they construct their worlds, and (3) what meaning they attribute to their experiences. The overall purpose is to understand how people make sense of their lives and their experiences” (p. 23). From the examples of basic qualitative research studies Merriam provides (2009, pp. 23-24), one can infer that a basic qualitative study can also be used to illuminate and understand the details of an educational process from the experiences of the individuals who created and or apply the process. “A survey design provides a quantitative or numeric description of trends, attitudes, or opinions of a population by studying a sample of that population. From sample results, the researcher generalizes or makes claims about the population” (Creswell, 2009, p. 145). Traditionally, quantitative research relies more on standardized instruments to collect data such as questionnaires, surveys, and structured observations. Qualitative approaches, on the other hand, use self-developed interviews, focus groups, or participation observations, or even a combination of these (Lodico et al., 2010, p.421). In summary, qualitative research is opposite to quantitative in that the research produces findings not arrived at by means of statistics or numbers but rather produces findings arrived at from real-world settings where the phenomenon of interest unfolds naturally, indicative of a naturalistic paradigm.

Link to article: The Basic Design Qualitative Study


Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches (3rd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.Creswell, J. W. (2012). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches (4th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Lodico, M. G., Spaulding, D. T., & Voegtle, K. H. (2010). Methods in educational research: From theory to practice (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam, S. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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