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  • 00:00

    [MUSIC PLAYING][SAGE video tutorials][Developing Skills in Formulating QualitativeResearch Questions]

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA: Hi, I'm Nathan Durdella,an Associate Professor at Cal State Northridge.Today, I'll talk about understanding researchquestions, connecting a research question to a research problem,structure a research question, and embeddinga qualitative research tradition in a research question.The goal of today's talk is to support the developmentof your work in crafting a research question using

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: qualitative methods.Let's start with understanding research questions.Research questions serve a central role in social scienceand behavioral science inquiry.From start to finish, they're what guide youin your investigation.They're what you ask at the beginning of a study,and what you answer and evaluate at the end of a study.They guide the importance of a study,

  • 00:54

    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: they establish the significance of a study,they direct what you do in the field,and what frame your discussion of results and findingsafter data collection and analysis.To be effective, research questionshave to be researchable.What is researchable?It means the scope of a study is notso narrow and hyperfocused that it relates just

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: to a personal case.And it's not so broad or overly general that it's more obscureand it cannot be investigated in a single study.Let's take a look at three questions that vary by scope.The following question is incrediblyunique and hyperfocused.From my perspective as an instructor,how do students in my undergraduate English class

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: this semester earn an "A"?The following is overly general and too broad.What is the meaning of academic success?And the following question is just right,balancing generality with specificity.How do community college studentsin developmental English classes succeed academically?You can see from these three examples,the first question is way too focused.

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: It's fine if you teach a class and you're an instructorand you want to improve your student'ssuccess and their learning, but it's notfine for a systematic investigation.The second question is way too broad.It's almost philosophical and conceptual in nature,and can't be investigated in a single study.And the third question is just right.It balances the generality that youneed to apply your result and findings to other settings

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: in the specificity that you require in your studyso that it's narrow that you can be studiedin a single investigation.So with an understanding of research questions,you can now use the following three guidelinesto help initially sketch out your first draft of a researchquestion.Start intuitively, where your general interests lie,and sketch out a question that can lead

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: to a search of the literature.Reshape initial ideas after you'veexplored empirical and conceptual areas of literatureassociated with your working ideas.Connect emerging questions to what's next.Research design and methods, then data collectionand analysis.So you've sketched out a research question intuitively

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: from your general research interest.Now, it's time to connect that question to your researchproblem through your literature review.A literature review really servesas a way to connect your researchstory in your investigation to the researchstories of other investigators and their studies.In every research study, you include at leastone primary research question.

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: Other questions may be asked, but theytend to elaborate this primary research question,and they tend to serve as secondary research questions.So you've sketched out your question intuitively,and you have one primary researchquestion you're working with.This is where you'll start.And then you develop this question over timethrough your literature review, that's the first step.So you go through this iterative process.

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: It's a back and forth, a tug and pull.This is kind of the recursive process of research.Your question takes shape as you gothrough different individual researchstudies in the literature.And, naturally, you narrow the scope of your research questionas you view how other researchers havenarrowed the scope of their studies and their questions.Let's take a look at this example in process.

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: You can see how once you start your literature review,you start very broadly with your scope.And then as you get through the literature and review studies,that scope narrows to one that youcan investigate in your study.So you initially begin with the following topic, facultyand undergraduate students in transition.And then through review of the literature,

  • 04:27

    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: you know the scope of that topic to faculty mentoringand first year students at public universities.And at the end of your literature review,you finally end up with the following topic.Faculty mentoring of first year students at summerorientations in large public urban universities.So you framed your initial question intuitivelythrough your general research interest,

  • 04:49

    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: and then you've narrowed the scope of that research questionthrough a review of the literatureand tying it to your research problem.And now you're ready to structure that researchquestion.You can start by asking yourself,what is most important for me to explore in my study?And you naturally answer with what, who, and where.These are the three central conceptsthat present themselves in all research questions in social

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: and behavioral science inquiry.The what is the phenomenon.It's the people, the places, the events, the feelings,and emotions that you'll explore in your investigation.The who are the group of people that you'll investigate.These are your research participants.They're the folks that you interact with in the field,you'll interview, and you will observe.And, finally, the where is the site or setting where you

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: go for your study.This is the place where you will conduct interviewsand your observations.So you have these three concepts.It's the phenomenon, and the group, and the site.And you take these three conceptsand you can use a formula, or a script,to bring a structure to your research questions.A phenomenon is a lived experienceof factors that shape academic outcomes for in a structure

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: of interactions.A group is African-American graduate students,first generation college studentsand undergraduate students who are former foster youth.And a setting or site can be in engineering and computerscience fields at four year public Hispanicserving institutions in rural community colleges.So you have these three central concepts-- phenomenon,

  • 06:19

    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: and group, and site.And now you could take those three central conceptsand you could build a research question around themthat you've already sketched out intuitivelyand narrowed the scope of through reviewof the literature.Let's take a look at how you do this in practice.Your phenomenon is summer orientation and facultymentoring.And your group and setting are first year and transfer

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: students at community colleges and large urban publicuniversities.You can build the research question from this phenomenon,in this group and setting as follows.How does faculty contact shape experiences of first yearstudents and transfer students in summer bridge activitiesat large urban public universities?

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: All right.So extending this example, you cansee these three central concepts, phenomenon,plus group, plus site, change.You can retain the same phenomenonso your site doesn't change, but when your group and settingchange, and this often happens in qualitative research,then you can change your questionand update your question to reflect a different group,or a different site or setting.

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: Let's take a look at this in practice.So we return to our original research question.How does faculty contact shape experiences of first yearstudents and transfer students in summer bridge activitiesat large urban public universities?And if the group and setting change,you can look at these following two questionsand see how the questions update and change.

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: How do first year, first generation college studentsexperience peer to peer and student faculty interactionin summer bridge activities at large urban community colleges?At large urban public universities,what experiences related to peer and faculty interactiondo first year women students of colorwho participate in summer bridge activities report?

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: All right.So we've seen how these three central concepts changewhen you retain the same researchphenomenon, but your group and setting change.Again, this is often important in qualitative inquirybecause, when you're in the field, conditions change,and you may have to interview a new group of people,or switch sites while you're in the field.So when you do this, ensure that you return to your research

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: questions and reshape them to reflect a new group or setting,and retain that same phenomenon.So you framed your research question intuitivelythrough your general research interests,and you've narrowed the scope of that research questionthrough review of the literature and tying itto your research problem.And, finally, you've brought structurethat research question through those threecentral concepts, phenomenon, plus group, plus site.

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: You've used that script now.You can finally turn to qualitative research visionand embed that in your research question.To give it a qualitative character,ensure that it's consistent with qualitative research goals,which are discovery, description, and verification.So once you've done that, you can thenmake more concrete steps and align a qualitative research

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: tradition to your research question.In qualitative inquiry, we use three general traditions.Ethnography, grounded theory, and phenomenology.So if you're interested in exploring cultural experiences,events, norms, beliefs, and behaviors,ethnography's for you.If you're interested in looking at a set of factors that

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: explain an outcome, and developing explanatory modelabout something, then grounded theory will work well for you.If you're interested in exploringthe structure of an interaction, or an event among a small groupof people, then phenomenology would workbest for your research study.So explore one of these research traditionsin qualitative inquiry, and align itwith your research question.

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: You do this by auditing your research questionwith the language and focus of oneof these qualitative research traditions.Let's take a look at how this happens in practice.Looking at our general research questionin qualitative inquiry, and applyingone of these qualitative research traditionsto the question and seeing how it changes.Our general qualitative research questionis, how do first year students and transfer

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: students in summer bridge activitiesexperience peer and faculty interactionat large urban public universities?Applying an ethnographic lenses question, it would become,what are the peer-peer and student faculty experiencesof first year students in summer bridgeorientations at large urban public universities?Applying a grounded theory lens to this question would mean,

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    DR. NATHAN DURDELLA [continued]: how does