Title

Increasing the Quality of Doctoral Students' Methods Journals in a Qualitative Research Class: An Experiment

Location

3033

Format Type

Paper

Format Type

Paper

Start Date

January 2016

End Date

January 2016

Abstract

Over the last few years teaching qualitative research, I have wondered why my doctoral students’ methods journals tend to be rather low-quality. I provide them with examples of methods journals, we read about the various ways they can be used, and we periodically discuss how and why they should use them throughout the semester. This semester, to assist students with their methods journals, I created a series of prompts to guide their journal entries, despite my misgivings about making it too structured.

Using content analysis, I compared these with former students’ methods journals to determine if the prompts assisted students in increasing the quality of their journals. I looked for deeper reflection on their research processes, an increased number of entries, and more discussion about their role in the data collection and analysis process.

Overall, the quality of students’ journals increased. In past years, students focused mainly used their journals as a way to track what data they needed to collect; they tended to be glorified to-do lists, with a few exceptions. This semester, students engaged in a higher degree of reflection on the research process and their roles in data collection and analysis. Not all students followed the prompts exactly as written, but I emphasized that the prompts were intended to serve as guides, not absolutes. Students also felt that having weekly prompts helped them know what to write about and helped keep them on track for their research projects.

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Jan 15th, 1:10 PM Jan 15th, 1:30 PM

Increasing the Quality of Doctoral Students' Methods Journals in a Qualitative Research Class: An Experiment

3033

Over the last few years teaching qualitative research, I have wondered why my doctoral students’ methods journals tend to be rather low-quality. I provide them with examples of methods journals, we read about the various ways they can be used, and we periodically discuss how and why they should use them throughout the semester. This semester, to assist students with their methods journals, I created a series of prompts to guide their journal entries, despite my misgivings about making it too structured.

Using content analysis, I compared these with former students’ methods journals to determine if the prompts assisted students in increasing the quality of their journals. I looked for deeper reflection on their research processes, an increased number of entries, and more discussion about their role in the data collection and analysis process.

Overall, the quality of students’ journals increased. In past years, students focused mainly used their journals as a way to track what data they needed to collect; they tended to be glorified to-do lists, with a few exceptions. This semester, students engaged in a higher degree of reflection on the research process and their roles in data collection and analysis. Not all students followed the prompts exactly as written, but I emphasized that the prompts were intended to serve as guides, not absolutes. Students also felt that having weekly prompts helped them know what to write about and helped keep them on track for their research projects.