Interview With Sharan MerriamPresented by Mike Worthington, Core Faculty

Basic Qualitative Research

Dr. Mike Worthington

Thank you Sharan for participating in this interview. One of the things that I have noticed is that the most common design that you — you have also stated the most common design used in the field of education as basics qualitative design. It is kind of a center piece of the course, so the learners are going to learn a great deal about that.

Well, why do you think design is so common and it is such a good fit for qualitative researchers in education setting?

Dr. Sharan Merriam

Well, I think that it is good for people in lots of settings besides this education because essentially the basic qualitative design is for those kinds of questions we — you are trying to understand, the experience of the other. You are trying to make sense about the people's lives and experiences. And that actually is the basic structure of all qualitative research, so the way I sort of made sense out of this arena is that you know the basic qualitative study is trying to make sense of other people's experiences.

Now, if you add another dimension, another aspect to that that is when you get into these different types of qualitative research. For example, if you want to look at the social and cultural structure, if you want to understand the meaning and experience but within the social cultural context, then you are likely to be doing an ethnographic study. Or if you are interested in the essence and underlying structure of the lived experience, then you are likely to be doing a phenomenal logical qualitative study. Or, if you want to build a theory or build a substantive theory, then you are likely to be doing a grounded theory study.

So, my sense is that all these types of qualitative research, what underlies all qualitative research is the search for understanding, the search for meaning, making sense out of other people's experiences. And it seems to me that usually, graduate students when they first get introduced to qualitative research that is unclear paradigm and to me, it is enough to sort of master a basics qualitative study without having to get into yet another variation of it because all of these other types of qualitative research have their own strategies and their own procedures and the way they do things. So, I think that is why basic— why I see the biggest percent of qualitative studies in education which is in my field also is that it is because that it is enough to master that and actually get to act what qualitative research is designed to do which is to get you understand the meaning of experience for people that you are interested in their lives and their experiences.

Dr. Mike Worthington

That is really a help in it. What you have said is really validated the approach we are taking here because we are building upon that basic design.

Conducting Effective Interviewse

Dr. Mike Worthington

We will be conducting interviews with colleagues at least two interviews and for some of them, they may never have done interviewing before. What advice do you have for this novice qualitative researcher in conducting an effective interview?

Dr. Sharan Merriam

Well, first, maybe do this as part of the course or the assignment. I will have them practice with a friend. I do workshops all over the world basically on qualitative research and in the work — in the section on data collection and particularly interviewing, I have them tear off and the person who is being interviewed just role plays whatever the topic is. If you are interviewing a school administrator or something, that person even bully may not be that. Just pretend that they are so that you as the interviewer can get a chance to try out your questions, just practice and then, I have them reverse role. So, I think it is — first of all, I think practicing in a comfortable environment, not sort of a nonthreatening situation is really good.

And then, I might suggest that they practice with someone who is in the role that they are interested in interviewing, but that is not going to be in the study. That might just be a friend that can give him some feedback and a real, a real possible trial interview with somebody. So, I think the practice is where it is happening. There are couple of other things that are equally important here. One is that the — and this is why it is fun to do like dyads in the class or something, that you should strike — you should like your research questions or have someone else look at them. And any research, any interview question that can be answered yes or no probably will be if somebody answered yes or no. We still did not give you that any information.

When I do the segment in my workshop with stuff, I always sort of demonstrate this. I pick somebody in the group and I ask him. I said, "Now, I want you to answer as few words as possible, few words as possible." And so, I will say, "Do you like this workshop so far?" And then, they will say like, "Yes or no." So, do you think might use qualitative research in your next study? You know what I mean so I demonstrate it. So, I said to someone until I get done with this little mock interview. I said, "So, what do we learn from this interview?" It is virtually nothing, because those questions do not go anywhere. So then, I asked them. "How can we reword these questions such that you will get more information?" So, you can say, "What activity have you liked the best in the workshop so far?" And we just sort of get them saying something besides yes and no.

So, I think trying out the questions to make sure that there is — getting a devil's advocate on the other side to make sure you have got a question that says they are going to get you something beside yes and no. And then, a comfortable site, you know, you just — and that to me means noise and whether it is cold or hot, wherever your interviewee chooses like the office or home or wherever. It should be a place to stay we choose that they will fee comfortable in and that is another thing.

I mean, you have to be a good listener when you are interviewing. The tendency for new interviewers and actually even myself, I do a lot of studies, but always the first couple of interviews that any new study I tend to do this which is I am thinking ahead to the next questions I want to ask. And so, I am not listening really well to the question they are answering. So, that is another thing, you know, trying to really listen to what they are saying because they might be saying something which would then prompt you to ask another question to follow up and get even richer detail.

Here is absolutely the biggest thing for good interviews, a minimum of open-ended questions. If you have 25 questions, you are going to be so busy looking at your list of questions. You would not be hearing them. You will be worried about asking them. You will be thinking, "Oh, which one did I miss?" You would not be listening very well. You might die. My PhD students, I would say to them, "Okay. I do not want any more than 10 questions, 10 questions maximum." And I think in the book, my qualitative research book I gave them an example of somebody. The whole dissertation thing was, I think should be open-ended questions.

And so, I don't let them ask a ton of questions if I have in their interview schedule where you got the questions, but you do have some, but you keep those to a minimum because when you ask the first question if it is an open-ended question, "Tell me about your experience or whatever." Then, whatever they say is going to lead you to your next question. You do not have to be tied to your interview. I found that if this does take a little practice and it does take maybe, I do not know, two or three interviews to free yourself up from the interview schedule, that list of questions. And I found in my own research that by the time I am into the fourth or fifth interviews, I do not even know if I brought it with me because I am familiar enough with the topic. And also, I have already used open-ended questions and which ones were good and which ones do not seems to work so well, so a minimum of open-ended of questions — with no yes and no kind of questions practice at.

And you know, being patient and having the tolerance for some ambiguity here, you will not have the answer right away. So, just kind of keep it open. And then, there is a couple excellent questions that I found work really well to get really good data and I always have my students who whatnot incorporate a couple of questions. And one of those questions is. Tell me about a time when you encountered a severe discipline problem or whatever your topic is. Tell me about a time when or can you give me an example of that or tell me more about that. What you want to do, you want to get instances. You want to get little stories. You want to get descriptions of the behavior or the perspective that you are trying to uncover here.

So, let us say you are doing a study of leadership or something in administration leadership. So, you select somebody who is identified as a real leader of other administrators and you want to find out their leadership style, so you could ask them. "How would you classify your leadership style?" Well, maybe they will say, "Well, I tried to engage the people who I am dealing with." Follow that up immediately with. Can you give me an example of time when you actually employed that strategy? Tell me about a time when and that is when you get the best data, really, really good examples of the phenomenon that you are trying to understand and uncover.

Dr. Mike Worthington

Those are really helpful tips.

Conducting Qualitative Data Analysis

Dr. Mike Worthington

Well, learners in this class are being asked to do, they are being asked to conduct at least two interviews to learn more about their colleague's educational processes and strategies, practices that are working well. They are going to be asked to use the — and we will follow the inductive and compare to data analysis you have outlined in your qualitative research textbook. But what advice do you have for learners in conducting qualitative data analysis?

Dr. Mike Worthington

Well, it is not going to be an issue with doing two interviews, but the thing that I would absolutely, absolutely — it is never been required as if you can is that they do one interview and analyze that before they do the second interview. Because in qualitative research, ideally, you analyze as you go because if you go pull — if you collect all your data — and sometimes as I understand it, sometimes you have to go to a different part of the country or something and you can only get three people in one day or something. I understand that but do the best that you can is to try not to collect all of your data and then start analyzing because you probably would not be able to do it and you also are missing a good opportunity to improve the data you are collecting.

So let us say you do one interview and I will see if it is possible. I would require this of students that they are going to agree with. They do one interview and they type up the transcript and they should go down through that interview first before they do with preliminary data analysis. Two things happen then. One is that they can see where they could have done better in the interviewing. For example, they will say, "Oh, my gosh. I cut the speaker off. I cut the person off." There, I should have let her keep talking or I should have followed up with another question or it looks like I talk too much, if you got a lot of interviewer and not much interviewee.

So, those are the things that you can see when you look at a transcript that I have found even after doing many, many interviews in years of experiences. I have found that it is very hard for me to tell how good an interview is until I look at the transcript. You can come often in interviewing. You can say, "Wow! That was really a good interview. I got lots of information, blah, blah." And then you look at the transcript and say, "Well, they sure talk a lot but there is not much here or vice versa."

That was really harder to get a person. I did not get much at all and then you look at the interview. Well actually, they did say quite a few important things. So, it improves your interviewing by looking at the interviews as you go. Second thing is if you do even just a preliminary analysis of your interview, then you get sort of a sense of what — somebody answers to your research questions that might be. Those are in the back of your mind when you go to interview the next person.

So, you go to interview the next person and maybe that person does not mention something the first person mentioned. Well, you can check that out or you can say something like, "You know, I have interviewed someone else on this topic and they made this interesting point." And what do you think about that?" So it gives you a chance to check out something you heard from the first interview.

And so that's really, really important to analyze as you go because it then and improves your data. It improves your interviewing and then it improves your analysis. So then after you do the second interviewee, you do the same thing. And after you have done two interviews, you have looked at them carefully and you sort of kind of pull together from both interviews what you think some of your tentative analysis is, some of your tentative answers.

And then you go to your third interview and by the time you get done interviewing, you already have tentative findings. And so as you go along in your interviewing at the end or other data collection, observation which works well too. At the end, you are confirming it. But if you have not analyzed as you have gone along, I mean you do not know what is in there, basically. So, that is crucial.

And then, I think the main strategy here in analysis is that you are trying to answer the question you raised. So I always have people say, "Well, what is the answer to your question about how they do something or what their perspective is on something or what is the answer?" So you go down through the interview and you say, "What in here helps to answer my research questions, question or questions, whatever you have?"

That answer is a tentative finding. I mean it is a finding and then become a category or a theme or whatever you want to call these things. But your findings in a qualitative study are the answers to your research questions. So let us say you are looking at, I don't know, whatever, a process of some sort, how do teachers handle difficult discipline problems? And anything that is a how is a process.

So, I would look in my answers, I would look — well, what is the first thing. What is the first thing in this process? What is the first step in this process? What is the first part of this process? Well, let us say the educator has to correctly identify the discipline problem itself. Maybe that is the first step, then what? I mean, then what is the second and what is the third? So, you are looking for answers to your research questions and those answers are your findings or your themes or categories, whatever you want to call them. That is what it is.

And in your data which is the interview or your field notes or documents in the data, an answer can be as short as a word or it can be several pages which is the recounting of an incident of a story that illustrates an answer to whatever question you are answering. So, you go down through your data and you — you know, I have them often write inside the margin. I just have them write — it can be the same words that are in the data or it can be something they named but that is another thing. That is really, really important.

For data analysis, it is crucial when you do these transcripts that you do line numbering down the left, do consecutive line numbering. You can just set the tab to do that. You do line numbering down the left and I always think the best format is single space or double space between speakers and it makes the data analysis much easier if you got the line number.

I mean if you got one or two interviews, it is no big deal. But if you got 20 interviews and you interview somewhere — you interview in number 11, they said something about X. If you have a line numbers where that they said that, you can immediately go to that piece of data and what you call it is this finding. You can immediately find it, review it and look at it and see if that is what you still feel about it and so forth.

Dr. Mike Worthington

Right, that line up comes in off handy. It is what you are really describing.

Dr. Sharan Merriam

Oh, absolutely. I do not know how anybody does it without that. I do not know how — you know, it is just impossible in my mind to think how you would do this. If you only got a couple of interviews, that is not such a big deal. I am assuming these learners who are going to do two interviews in your course will — perhaps, some of them will go on and do a study where they will have 15 or 20 or whatever. And if they have learned how to do this from one interview, then that should stick with them and it will make it much easier down the road for a larger data set.

Dr. Mike Worthington

And what you just is coding and I think sometimes learners will get a little anxious about that term itself, coding.

Dr. Sharan Merriam

Oh, yeah. I know. Well, I say, "Well, there is all this jargon for coding." And what I say and I sort of — when I do this I sort of demonstrate this. I say, "The first thing you do when you go down to an interview is what some people like to call open coding." Here, often the margin and I do not actually do this. Off in the margin, I write down anything as you go along in the interview that you think might be responsive to your research question. That is open coding and if you want to capture right now anything possible.

And again, you can use the words the person used, the interviewee used or you can use your own words, but off to the right that is open coding. So, when you go through an interview, if they do current transcripts, 12, 15 pages long, you could have as many as, I do not know, you can have 50 of this or let us say open codes. These are just words. These are going to be turned into findings. So, that is open coding and then you go back down through and you review that.

You say, "Well, here is one that can be combined with this other one on line 72 and I can combine those two and I can call that, call both of those, this other term." People call that axial coding but I do not care what you call it. The process is what counts. So at first, the first pass through in your data is anything possible that is why it is called open, open coding. Anything possible is tagged, identified as possible answers to your research questions.

Then, the second go through is where you start combining and pulling them together and that is the second phase of this thing and that you can call that axial coding if you want but you do not have to. So it is the process that is important. So, it sounds like you have a good handle on this two and it is demystifying this process which a lot of the people like to have, like to use all this jargoning words and stuff in it and sort of been my crusade over the years to demystify this process so that — what you are actually doing when you are doing axial coding, whatever that is, right?

Dr. Mike Worthington


Dr. Sharan Merriam

So, that is what — and then, it depends and this is all in through the basic concept compared to method which underlies all of qualitative data analysis. But there are some other strategies that got their own fancy names, like if you are doing a phenomenal, logical, qualitative study. You got some things in poche' and this kind of stuff. And that is why I mean that is sort of like — in addition to what our qualitative research is doing or narrative analysis if there is maybe, I do not know, at least six different ways to analyze stories.

And that is a form coding in itself but those are different strategies. Ultimately though, even if you are doing narrative analysis, let us say, you would analyze everybody's story according to one of these narrative analysis techniques. Ultimately, you are going to compare each story with one with the other. So ultimately, you are going to be doing this inductive, comparative analysis because you cannot just give people 15 stories for your findings. You have to cut across them all and come up with a set of findings.

Understanding Theoretical Frameworks

Dr. Mike Worthington

In teaching this course or teaching research in general, one of the most challenging areas is having learners draft the concept of a theoretical framework for a study that they are proposing. And do you have a teaching technique or process that has worked well for this? What is it that learners really need to understand about a theoretical or a conceptual framework for a qualitative study or any study?

Dr. Sharan Merriam

Well, this is a great, great question because I think everybody who approaches a research as you said of any kind, it comes up against this thing called a theoretical framework. And I remember years and years ago, a colleague of mine said to me. She said, "You know, if I could have figured out what a theoretical framework was, I could have cut off a year of graduate school." And I think that is true because people throw these terms around. They do not want what it is exactly, it is so vague and everything.

But what I do when we are doing this is I have them develop a problem statement and problem statement again that gives a 'what is that?' Well, this is setting up your study basically. And in order to set up any study, you have to position it somewhere, somewhere in a literature. I mean, what is the study about? What is the study about? Is this study about curriculum? Is this study about discipline in the school? Well, what is this study about? So, you study and you develop your problem statement and why you are going to do the study. It has to be situated or positioned within some literature somewhere, leadership literature or whatever. So, to me, that is — I mean, that is where your theoretical framework is.

So, if you are interested in studying leadership, then you would be looking to leadership literature. But what about the leadership whenever it is upon a leadership literature? So, let us say you are particularly interested in transformative leadership, transformational leadership this will serve like a body of literature. There is a little bit of theory around that and there is even an instrument that measures that. So, that would be where your theoretical framework is in most studies. I would say most study. I cannot even think of one where it is not true.

In most studies, you have two maybe three pieces of literature that you are drawing together. It is kind of like braiding, you know, you pull something from one theory, one set of research. You pull another strand from another and you pull one from a third and you weave them together to form your theoretical framework. This is where your study is situated. Where are you placing the study? So what I do — in order to teach this — well, I go over — I have people to look at and I get one page of problem statements and so, I say, "Okay. So, what is the theoretical framework of the study?" Well, I mean you cannot miss it because this is what the whole problem is about and it is also what the title of the study is about and that is where —.

And then, I look at some article, some published researched articles. And in fact, I am doing some workshops next week in South Africa as a matter of fact. And we have one whole session on the problem statement and I have got maybe four or five, the first, two or three pages of several published articles, qualitative research because this is a qualitative research workshop. And I say, "Okay. Let us look at the first two pages of this article. What is the theoretical framework?" Well, it is what the study is about, usually what the study is about and one other thing besides the literature that your study is situated in. A lot of people use the word conceptual framework for this and in a literature you see both, theoretical framework and conceptual framework. I prefer theoretical framework, because to me a theoretical framework is a little bit broader. Conceptual framework, well, a colleague who does a survey research explained to me that in the survey research, the conceptual framework is often in the third chapter in methodology where you are defining the concepts and how you are going to measure them.

So, to me, a conceptual framework is a little narrower because it is about those concepts, but theoretical framework of course covers for those concepts. So, I prefer to use theoretical framework.

Dr. Mike Worthington

They are great tips, thank you. You made that thing so easy, the explanation when you said still.

Dr. Sharan Merriam

Well, you know I think people make it hard. I think it is because there is a word theoretical. People make it harder than it is. I mean, how can you talk about your study without talking about the literature out of which you are coming to develop your study? I mean, you cannot do it. So, where is the theoretical framework? It is there.

Dr. Mike Worthington

And I like the knowledge you use in braiding together, theory and literature.

Dr. Sharan Merriam

Right, right. Well, I mean, it is hard to set up your problem without knowing what is in the literature. And so, you have to make a case for your problem. You have to make a case for doing the study, so you review the literature. You review the literature and you point out what the gap is. What is the gap? I mean, what do not we know yet about this problem or this issue or these phenomena? What do not we know? What is the gap? And that gap becomes the purpose of your study. That is what your study is all about to address that gap, but it is a gap in the literature. It is what we do not yet know about that.

One of my PhD students said a study of math anxiety. Well, anybody who knows anything about or even peripherally, you know what I am saying. Math anxiety, there is thousands of studies on math anxiety. It has been studied a gazillion times over the years with all kinds of audiences and blah, blah, blah. In fact, she found four, four reviews of literature. So, I said to her. "So, what is your —" I mean, it looks like there is nothing else to study to me. What has been studied was how adults made the transition from being math anxious to feeling comfortable with math. I mean there were all these gazillion studies, but there was a gap. Adults said we are just inhibited in terms of their daily activities and helping their kids with their homework or in the grocery story or whatever, math anxious and they overcame it somehow. So, she studied that transition of overcoming math anxiety in adulthood and that was the gap in this massive literature.

Dr. Mike Worthington

It makes me think about why we do qualitative research in the first time and it is informed practice.

Dr. Sharan Merriam

Absolutely, absolutely, informed practice and especially in a practice oriented field like education. We always have an eye to how we can improve practice, informed practice, how we can do things better, so let us find out. And a lot of studies in education are about how people are doing things well and what we can learn from those processes and activities and perspective and things.

Personal Impact of Doing Qualitative Research

Dr. Mike Worthington

You know, in my experience in conducting and supervising a qualitative research that over the course of doing research. I always experienced sort of qualitative researchers change somehow by the experience of conducting qualitative research. And that change of transformation sometimes just involves a shift in the world view. They see the world a bit differently or even on their dream of becoming an advocate for people who have been marginalized or groups that have been marginalized. What are your experiences with this then? Did people have a personal transformation?

Dr. Sharan Merriam

Yeah. I would say that the more common personal transformation is falling in love with qualitative research and realizing that sort of what we are seeing of what you can learn through qualitative research. I mean it is discovery oriented. You are trying to uncover, discover what people think or how they do things or their experiences. And the insights that you get from doing this kind of research is for a lot of — new research is like, "Wow!" They see the power, the power of this method because we have all been brought up in the paradigm. Anybody who has been in education has just been brought up in that.

And so, we all assume that the way you do researches and surveys or experiments or whatever. Well, when introduced to these methods it is like, "Wow! Here is what you can learn." And I think in terms of becoming advocates for social change, my experience is that those students or those new researchers who are sort of oriented that way will often take a qualitative research topic.

That is very much in that sort of social change realm or at least sort of more of a critical social orientation. For example, I had one woman do a study of women in homeless shelters. Well, I mean that was always kind of a thing with her and another one did a study of advocacy groups and so forth. So, the topics people skip often, I would say, reflect — it might reflect to this orientation. In which case when they get into the research, they become even more strongly advocates for marginalized and maybe even make that their sort of future research and practice orientation.

But I think in terms of transformation, I think that the bigger transformation that I see in over the years is becoming totally persuaded and enamored by the power of qualitative research and what it can tell you about the world.

Dr. Mike Worthington

I think that is — this one helps that you to study with us. I started off as a quantitative researcher but I cannot stay away from the qualitative because it does. It teaches us.

Dr. Sharan Merriam

Right, right, exactly. But you know, occasionally do you know what happens is people find out and that is why this course is great because they can dabble in it and sometimes people find out this is not for them.

Either you have to have a big — first of all, you have to be okay with interviewing people generally. Secondly, you have to have a big tolerance for ambiguity because it is not at the beginning. It is just not clear what you are going to find and how the design is going to emerge. You can start interviewing and discover you are interviewing the wrong category of people.

I do not need to be talking with administrators. I need to be talking with teachers. And so, these things change and sometimes as we engage in the study and for people who like the things, the goal pole set up right at the beginning and whatever, this is sometimes — this is not to their liking and I can understand that. They just rather have it laid out and whatnot. But I cannot tell you the number of times a student has said to me about using this technique or doing any of this.

What if I cannot find anything? What if I cannot find anything? It was such a different way of thinking. It is inductive. So, what if I cannot find anything? And I say, "You will always find something. You always find something. It maybe not what you are thinking." That is the beauty of it. You may discover some things you never would have thought of before and they say, "Oh!"

So, it is a different way of thinking and this is scary for some people. So sometimes, people try this and they just prefer the upfront security of a quant or a quant design and I can understand that. So nothing I can ask a lot and maybe you do too is, "Well, does a qualitative research take longer?" Do you ever get that question?

Dr. Mike Worthington

Sure, yes.

Dr. Sharan Merriam

Right. So, this is my answer to that. Well, no, it does not take longer. What will get you through a quant or a qualitative study the fastest is taking a topic you are genuinely interested in. If you are really interested and you really want to know the answer to a certain problem or question that you are posing, that will get you through you study, not which methodology you are using.

And so I encourage them to pick something that they are really are curious about, whichever paradigm they are using and that distribution of time is different in the two paradigm sets. That is what sometimes people are thinking about when they say, "Well, it does not take longer." In quantitative research, the work, the vast majority of work is upfront, setting the study up or devising the survey or making sure your training is variables or accounted for in experimental study, all is set up.

All the stuff you worry about and set up ahead of time and get all planned. The actual data analysis is very fast in a quant study. In a quant study, the distribution of time is reversed. At the beginning, you set up to your best, your best guest here and who to interview and what to look at and documents to collect or whatever. And then, the workload it is unloaded. It is the data analysis. That is where your time is. So, that is why I see some differences there.

Dr. Mike Worthington

Well, yeah, related to descriptions you are telling us for ambiguity. I think a lot of qualitative researches are — qualitative research is messy. That is true.

Dr. Sharan Merriam

Yeah. Well, that is true. That is true and those people are not — once again, they are not comfortable with the ambiguity of it all and you have to go with the flow sort of it and try it out and maybe your interview schedule is — you are not asking. I think I can give really good example of this.

I did a study of older adult learning in Malaysia. I was with a Malaysian colleague and we have done the over the adult learning, we have done all the literature research and all of that stuff which mostly was done in the West. And so, one of our early interviews, one of our early questions was — so, how do you think about successful aging? Totally, can I answer it? Because in their world view, they do not separate out that life stage, the way we tend to do in the West and it is like, "Well, I am just going along with my life." What do you mean? It just did not work. It did not work.

And so sometimes you find your questions do not work and it is a little messy and you do have to make adjustments and that kind of thing, but it is very reinforcing though when you start getting information and people say, "Oh, wow! That was really neat. That was great insight, blah, blah." And you get real excited about it and that is when you get captivated by the methodology.

Dr. Mike Worthington

And one way that I would separate in a very a general sense, understanding quantitative from qualitative, quantitative is all about verification and confirmation but the qualitative is all about discovery.

Dr. Sharan Merriam

Right, exactly. Yeah. It is about discovery and understanding, understanding how people see the world, understanding how they construct meaning in the world and what meaning they make of what is happening in their lives or the practices that they are doing or it is understanding and it is discovering, whereas in the quant, you are verifying or assessing the distribution of some phenomenon or looking for the cause and effect. So yeah, it is really — depending on how you phrase the question. One strategy will be more appropriate than another. That is why that research question in qualitative research is the key.

It is really about understanding and it is often a lot about process and perspective in world views and that kind of thing. So, that is where the — it is a big difference and defining the phenomenon. For example, one study was all about adult learning or ABE adult literacy centers and there was a center where they had a very high success rate, all of the — lots of the people who stayed with the program and finished it — and got under EDL and sort of stuff.

Well, that is so out of the norm. There is about 60% dropout of adult literacy students. And what is it that this center was doing that allowed it to have this greater success rate? So, you have to go in and look. What is it doing? I mean they did not know. They did not know, so cannot set up a survey instrument and ask them how much they do, X, Y, Z because they did not know what they were doing.

So it is often very much uncovering the basic processes or the basic variables or the basic world view to begin with. And then a lot of times, qualitative studies are followed up by quant studies where they take these understandings or conceptualization and then do — put them into a survey format and then measure the distribution of that.

And I think about my colleague's research in literacy and he used to be — every person, every adult who drops out of a literacy program will tell you it is time and money. You know, they do not have the time and they do not have the money. Well, when they actually did some qualitative research on that, they found that yeah well, everybody says it is time and money, but what really was going on is that they felt like they could not learn and they had a very poor image of themselves as learner.

And so, they uncover quite a bit more reasons why people would not stick with it. They were intimated. They did not want to go onto a college campus where somebody's programs were. So, there were those kinds of things that you do not think. If you think about doing a survey like, "Well, everybody just talks all the time. Let us see how much time and how much money is and how much distance it is and where they have babysitting or you know what I mean." These are things you can get from a literature. But when you actually go ask the people, sometimes they turn up different things.

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