The main goal of this course is to position you to develop an active and engaged posture toward data collection. To accomplish this goal, we will emphasize strategies to employ a posture of openness, flexibility, and responsiveness in our data collection practices.
Course content will direct interaction with four qualitative data collection strategies:
- Focus Groups
- Online data collection
Ten data engagement strategies, listed here, will direct our course content and provide you with a checklist and action plan for your fieldwork:
- Understanding: How well do you understand the topic of and audience for your project? Are you familiar with the properties, dimensions, and dynamics of your topic and how further work in your field will affect audiences for your work?
- Aligning: How do your data collection strategies and the questions in your interview/focus group guide assist you in achieving project goals?
- Preparing: Who are your participants? How does knowledge of the participants inform your data collection format and approach? How do you foster a sense of ownership for participants in the data collection experience?
- Opening: What are ways to open the interaction and conversation appropriately and comfortably?
- Asking: What do you ask participants when and why? What questions open conversation topics? When and how do you probe and ask for further detail and example? What do you note from the field? How do you develop your observation skills?
- Following: How do you maintain a proper posture to discover, but not unduly influence, your participants’ experiences? How do you manage the conversation and observation in a way that allows you to follow your participants’ unfolding narratives while keeping them interested and involved in their own story telling?
- Shifting/Adjusting: When and why do you make adjustments to data collection protocols and interview or focus group approaches? How can you shift your approach, language, and direction on the spot as you listen to and observe people’s unfolding narratives?
- Closing: How can you naturally and affirmatively reach the conclusion of each data collection episode?
- Processing: How do you track and understand the evolution of your interview/focus group guide and data collection protocols to process the meanings these changes have for your project?
- Contextualizing: How do considerations of ethical, political, and social implications related to your study, your participants, and the communities in which your study is located guide and direct your practices and what you present?
Employing these strategies through the life of your project will ensure you ask the right questions to the right people at the right time and in the right way. This practice will also help you to understand how the conversations and interactions occurring during data collection fit what is currently known about, and practiced in, your field.