In qualitative evaluation, the evaluator is more involved on a personal level with the participants of a program than a quantitative evaluator would be. Identify and describe six (6) strategies for increasing the trustworthiness of qualitative results. Be sure to address how you would implement these strategies if you were completing a qualitative program evaluation.
Chapter 4 Qualitative Research Methods, textbook: Royse, D., Thyer, B., & Padgett, D. K. (2016). Program evaluation: An Introduction to an evidence-based approach (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. ISBN-10: 1-305-10196-0 / ISBN-13: 978-1-305-10196-8.
Qualitative Research Methods
Qualitative evaluation requires the program evaluator to be more involved on a personal level with study participants than in quantitative evaluation. Consequently, many questions are often raised regarding this research approach particularly in terms of trustworthiness (Royse, Thyer & Padgett, 2016). Thus, the researcher must address the issue of quality control in order to retain the validity of a study. Without it, it is easy to have a situation where outside pressure and personal bias influence outcomes. Moreover, as the instrument of data collection, the researcher tends to be vulnerable to bias (Royse, Thyer & Padgett, 2016). There are many ways in which this problem can be addressed. Towards this end, one must learn to strike a balance between skepticism and bias. This paper outlines six strategies that can be used to enhance vigor in a qualitative study. The strategies include prolonged engagement, peer debriefing, triangulation of data, negative case analysis, member checking, and audit trail.
To begin with, prolonged engagement involves extending the duration in which a researcher engages with participants. Doing so greatly increases the likelihood that both skepticism and bias will be avoided. To implement this strategy, I would need to come up with an extended timeline for the research process. The second strategy is peer debriefing, and it involves inviting vigilant peers to monitor all potential manifestations of bias during the collection and analysis of data. Unfortunately, finding knowledgeable peers is a difficult undertaking. In this case, I would have to seek assistance from researchers who have conducted qualitative evaluation recently. Thirdly, a researcher can engage in triangulation, whereby different types of data are gathered to corroborate and interpret findings more accurately. Like in the case of prolonged engagement, I would need an extended timeline to implement this strategy.
Fourthly, negative case analysis is also a common evaluation strategy in qualitative studies. In this regard, the focus should be on cases that refute findings. Researchers should regard preoccupation with supporting data as a sign of bias (Royse, Thyer & Padgett, 2016). To avoid this problem, a pursuit of rival explanations in the data set is necessary. Member checking is also a common strategy that involves returning to participants to seek clarification regarding preliminary findings. It not only gives the researcher a better understanding of participants’ subjective meanings but also enhances the participatory aspects of the research process. To adopt this strategy, I would nurture a friendly working relationship with all participants at the outset as a way of ensuring that their cooperation goes beyond the initial stages of data collection. An audit trail is the last strategy for enhancing trustworthiness. In this approach, an evaluator thoroughly documents all the steps that were taken during the collection and analysis of data. To do this, I would need the help of a knowledgeable outsider who can identify all areas where bias is likely to have occurred. Moreover, documenting my interactions with research data and the decisions made each step of the way is an excellent way of creating an audit trail.
In conclusion, evaluation is one of the most difficult aspects of the research process. It is not only time-consuming but also resource-intensive. Although finding knowledgeable evaluators can be difficult, it is an excellent way of getting valuable information on most, if not all, sources of bias a researcher may have overlooked. Similarly, it may be difficult to ensure that participants remain cooperative throughout the duration of a study. Nevertheless, overcoming such difficulties is the best way of striking a balance between skepticism and bias.
Royse, D., Thyer, B., & Padgett, D. (2016). Program evaluation: An Introduction to an evidence-based approach, sixth edition. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
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