Data Collection Discussion
The following readings are required for Module 4. Optional readings can be found at the end of each section and while not required, may help you understand the material better and be useful to you if you choose to conduct a case study research method for your doctoral study. All readings can be accessed in the Trident Online library, unless linked to another source.
Methods of Data Collection in Action Research
Action research, in the same manner as case study research, is fundamentally an inductive undertaking that makes use of an array of qualitative research and data collection techniques. Since the objective of action research is to answer questions, reflect, and to take steps to solve problems—it is essential to build a holistic view of the situation and context. Multiple sources of evidence are brought together, compared and contrasted, and assessed in such a way that the specific nature of the problem and required action becomes clear. The specific categories of the data collection effort will depend upon the specific context under study, but will likely include at least several of the following:
- Stakeholder interviews: Recorded in-depth interviews of those involved in the context of the problem under study. Thematic analysis is then applied to interview transcripts.
- Documentary analysis: Samples of documents such as meeting minutes, presentations, memos, or emails are sorted and catalogued for thematic analysis.
- Focus groups: Focus groups may function as a validation step to review and provide input to data collected from other sources. Further, focus groups may function as a source of primary data collection. In this case, the focus group is presented with situations and issues related to the problem under study. The focus group discusses the problem—and possibly performs brainstorming analysis. Thematic analysis is then applied to the transcript of the focus group (or groups) that meet.
- Surveys/questionnaires: Survey instruments are often associated with quantitative research. Action research, however, does not test hypotheses. Instead, it employs an inductive worldview to build up the “big picture” systems view of the problem under consideration. Surveys or questionnaires therefore provide one data point among many in the quest to understand and prepare for problem-solving action. For this reason, open-ended survey questions are likely to add more value than the traditional Likert-like questions typically employed by quantitative research.