Qualitative research designs Action Research
Action research is used to investigate the effects of small-scale interventions in real life situations that involve practitioners. It is often used when practitioners want to change their way of working, or introduce a new service and want to monitor that change concurrently. It is a problem solving approach that involves the team in a process of reflecting on their situation, identifying problems and possible responses, implementing the change and evaluating the effects.
Action research is considered cyclical in nature because the team may go through the process of reflection, identification, intervention, and evaluation several times. An example of action research might be the introduction of a particular nurse-led primary health care service. Although included within qualitative research designs, the researcher often collects a combination of qualitative and quantitative data. Ethnography Ethnography is a form of qualitative research. It is used to investigate cultures and population subgroups and seeks to explore, describe and explain cultural behaviour. An example of this might be to explore help-seeking behaviour for mental health problems within a particular ethnic group. In primary health care, ethnography helps health care professionals to develop cultural awareness and adapt existing services to develop new approaches to meet patients’ needs. As a form of qualitative research, ethnography requires the collection of in depth information through face-to-face contact with individuals over a period of time.
Analysis of data concentrates on understanding and describing the situation from the perspective of the culture or subgroup under study. Phenomenology Phenomenology literally means the study of phenomena. It is a way of describing things that are part of the world in which we live: events, situations, experiences or concepts. Phenomenological research investigates individuals’ lived experience of events
The learning process begins with the students’ own experience. In the case of logging applied during writing and translation courses, the experience lies in the fact that the process is observed by a software program – an aspect that initially alerts the students, but which is forgotten as soon as they concentrate on the production task. The experience phase continues during observation of their own process in the replay – where they can follow their own processes (or those of others) along the replay. The students are encouraged to compare their earlier writing and translation experience in the light of observation and reflection. This can at first be hindered due to a lack of words for describing the experience.
Once the words are found to describe the processes, students will be able to comment on their writing and translation task and evaluate them. The lecturer can provide process theory to support this phase to help the students with formulating their findings on their own processes. In the classroom, comments can be used as a shared experience in the student group, where not only individuals comment on their own processes, but also other people’s observations and findings about the process, process phases etc. are subject to further insight. These reflections, especially if backed up with a didactic concept provided by the lecturer, can lead to a deeper understanding of the processes involved. If the writing and translation behavior can be retained in that way, a considerable insight into the current state is gained. On this basis, learners’ abstractions can be carried further into generalizations or theories.
Almost all parts of the text production process can be looked at when using the linear representations and the replay facilities of logging programs. Statistics (linear representations) give interesting insights into the general countable process elements, such as e.g. pauses, which visually can help the students to understand both process phases and the overall process structure better.
The logs can give insights into a wide array of aspects of the writing process, as the following few examples will show: the way in which text is produced (typed, erased, wrongly spelt, corrected, moved around on the screen) and evaluated can be observed when the replay is watched. The replay serves as a trigger to make the student aware of the known and also of the unknown cognitive processes of the process. Instances of the replay will make the students remember production situations, e.g. a pause will remind them of their information gathering (e.g. checking a word in a dictionary), while deletions and re-typed words will remind them of their problem solution phases