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Week 8 – Assignment: Critique Your Qualitative Researcher Positionality – Due
Advanced Qualitative Design and Measurement
Using reflective writing as a critical thinking process, consider your researcher positionality as a doctoral-level qualitative researcher and offer a reflective discussion that encompasses four to five paragraphs:
1. After reviewing the Week 8 Resources and Figure 8.1, use writing-as-inquiry to reflect on the aspects of yourself as a scholar and qualitative researcher and begin to articulate how you would describe your own researcher positionality.
2. Review the five Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs, see them listed again below) and assess the new learning you have gained in this course and how you will apply it to your future qualitative research design.
Learning Outcome 1: Discriminate the strengths, challenges, and limitations of the qualitative research designs used in educational research.
Learning Outcome 2: Analyze the rationale and methodological conventions of qualitative data collection techniques used in educational research.
Learning Outcome 3: Analyze the rationale and methodological conventions of qualitative data analysis techniques used in educational research.
Learning Outcome 4: Evaluate qualitative educational research designs with attention to alignment, feasibility, trustworthiness, and quality.
Learning Outcome 5: Synthesize strategies for developing and aligning a qualitative research study design to address an educational problem.
3. Reflect on the gains and challenges in this course experience and evaluate the current state of your ability to offer a substantive rationale for the choice of the qualitative method for doctoral-level research and the justification of a specific qualitative research design to explore a focused educational problem.
4. Finally, consider the additional development you will need as you continue your coursework and your development as a doctoral qualitative researcher and your researcher positionality.
Your reflective narrative should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards.
Week 8 – Assignment: Critique Your Qualitative Researcher Positionality
Writing-as-Inquiry: Qualitative Researcher Positionality
Throughout this course, you have considered qualitative research and a specific research design aligned with the qualitative method as relevant and appropriate to address an educational problem. Educational problems can be viewed quite differently when approached from an individual theoretical or professional perspective that carries with it an educator’s worldview. Therefore, it can be also important for doctoral-level qualitative researchers to contemplate their own researcher positionality as a necessary process for critical self-reflection and examination to determine the researcher’s stance within the social constructs, biases, layers and contexts, power balances, dual/multiple identities, transparency, and objectivity/subjectivity within the research (Throne & Bourke, 2019). For example, think about where you stand in relation to your potential participants and the data you will gather.
Through the description and illumination of researcher positionality, the qualitative research can serve to reduce bias within the doctoral study by offering a transparent and elucidated perspective of self-as-researcher to approach the educational problem of inquiry (see Figure 8.1). The elucidation of researcher positionality can also clarify ethical and respectful boundaries for the doctoral researcher, human subject participants, and assumptions and preconceptions carried into the research study thereby strengthening the fidelity of study results and for many, doctoral student confidence, agency, and skill as an independent investigator ready to conduct further research. As you successfully complete this advanced research methods course, you will move on to the design of a qualitative research prospectus to demonstrate your ability to propose an initial study design for dissertation research.
Figure 8.1. Doctoral researcher positionality.
Be sure to review this week’s resources carefully. You are expected to apply the information from these resources when you prepare your assignments.
Throne, R., & Bourke, B. (2019). Online research supervisor engagement: Fostering graduate student researcher positionality. In K. Walters & P. Henry (Eds.), Fostering multiple levels of engagement in higher education environments. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Throne, R., Bourke, B., Bowlin, L., Hailey, V., Joseph, S., & Yedgarian, V. (2018). Insider/outsider, betwixt and between: Post-doc perspectives of researcher positionality after dissertation research. 2nd annual Conference on Academic Research in Education, Las Vegas, NV.
• Andres, L. (Academic). (2015). Segment 3: Locating yourself in the research design and process. In Mapping out the survey research process…
This brief segment of a longer video (3:40) offers an overview of the importance of how and why qualitative researchers determine where they stand in relation to study participants and the research setting as well considerations for transparency, power relations, subjectivities, assumptions, and values that represent the researcher’s positionality.
• Dean, J., Furness, P., Verrier, D., Lennon, H., Bennett, C., & Spencer, S. (2018). Desert island data: An investigation into researcher positionality.
In this article, the authors reflect on the role of researcher positionality within the context of qualitative research and differences that may occur in data analyses due to differences in researcher positionality and qualitative researcher-as-instrument.
• Brooks, R., te Riele, K., & Maguire, M. (2014). Chapter 6: Identity, power and positionality. In Ethics and education research (pp. 100-116). London,
In this chapter, the authors discuss researcher positionality from the context of ethics in educational research including considerations for practice-based or practitioner research.
• May, T., & Perry, B. (2017). Reflexive practice. In Reflexivity: The essential guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
In this chapter, the authors discuss how reflexivity can be utilized for reflexive practice and the ongoing development of a qualitative researcher as insider/outsider and within research spaces. Practice-based examples are provided for qualitative research within institutional contexts.
• Rowe, W. E. (2014). Positionality. In D. Coghlan & M. Brydon-Miller (Eds.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Action Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
In this chapter, the author discusses the considerations for researcher positionality from the context of action research.
• Saldaña, J. (2018). Researcher, analyze thyself. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 17(1), 1-7.
Researcher, Analyze Thyself Johnny Saldan˜a
. Positionality is an important consideration in action research because it not only directly influences how the research is carried out but also determines the prevailing outcomes and results—whose voice(s) will be represented in the final reports or decisions. Ospina, Dodge, Foldy, and Hofmann-Pinilla (2008) noted that the funder’s power elevated the position and perspective of the outsiders while minimizing or ignoring the interests of some community participants. In conclusion, researchers must be acutely conscious of the positionality issues and how they will influence the course and reported outcomes of an action research project, continually bringing them to the forefront for discussion with participants and seeking to redress power imbalances that disenfranchise or minimize the voice of key participant groups.
Positionality refers to the stance or positioning of the researcher in relation to the social and political context of the study—the community, the organization, or the participant group. The position adopted by a researcher affects every phase of the research process, from the way the question or problem is initially constructed, designed, and conducted to how others are invited to participate, the ways in which knowledge is constructed and acted on and, finally, the ways in which outcomes are disseminated and published. Following is a description of the outsider and insider roles of researchers and a discussion of the multiple dimensions influencing how researchers may relate to the action research participants.
• Insider or Outsider Role In action research, the concept of positionality is referenced in terms of the researcher’s insider or outsider relationship to the community engaged in the inquiry. Kathryn Herr and Gary Anderson in their book on action research dissertations provide extensive discussion on the continuum of insider and outsider relationships. An insider is a researcher or participant who works for or is a member of the participant community, while an outsider (e.g. an academic researcher) is seen as a non-member. Herr and Anderson describe six positions along a continuum: • 1. Insider (researcher studies own practice) • 2. Insider in collaboration with other insiders • 3. Insider(s) in collaboration with outsider(s) • 4. Reciprocal collaboration (equal insider and outsider teams) • 5. Outsider(s) in collaboration with insider(s) (non-equivalent relationships) • 6. Outsider(s) studies the first five ‘positions’ are consistent with the foundational principles of action research as a participatory and reflexive practice that involves researchers and participants in a process of co-inquiry to address identified problems, create change or explore opportunities. Researchers as outsiders (the sixth position) involves gathering data about others as objectified research subjects, a position more typical of traditional research.
• To me, what makes someone smart is not their intelligent vocabulary or sense of arrogantly deserved seniority and entitlement, but their analytic creativity. To me, what makes someone smart is someone who makes me say out loud “Wow” as I am reading or hearing their research reports because they made insights that never occurred to me. Their analyses transcend science. Their analyses are poetry.
The Elements of Our Style I once put forth in a book chapter, “If you want to discover the meaning of your life, then closely examine the style of it” (Saldan˜a, 2018, p. 173). So, what is our style? What are the elements of our style? Remember: It’s not important that you understand what something “means,” what’s important is that you understand that something has meaning. But meaning isn’t something that’s fixed in something else; meaning is activated when you abductively encounter the puzzling. So, what is the meaning of a qualitative researcher? Based on my reflections and the input of the TQR and QM conference attendees, we offer the following 10 categories: Being a qualitative researcher means meticulous vigilance of details yet the ability to condense the minutiae, and to find what is salient and significant, even in the mundane.
Being a qualitative researcher means humble vulnerability—open to empathic understanding, open to other people’s fragilities and idiosyncrasies, open to messy collaboration, and open to bring wrong. Humbly vulnerable to being utterly confused and so awash in data that you have no idea where to begin or what direction to take. Humbly vulnerable to the possibility that your opinion does not matter and that your interpretation is incorrect. Humbly vulnerable to expressing your political beliefs, humbly vulnerable when asserting your moral compass, knowing right from wrong, and realizing that there are many more gray areas that black and white ones in this world.
Being a qualitative researcher means finding your methodological tribes. In this eclectic field of inquiry, there are some approaches we may find more appealing to our personal interests, and we socialize and bond with those who share those same affinities. We invest ourselves in selected research genres or styles because they feel right as forums for our creative investigation. If there are negative aspects to being a qualitative researcher, this meaning category may contain them, for it is this sphere where we may encounter isolation from others who do not share those same interests, and selected tribes that become warring factions, asserting their paradigmatic dominance or superiority over others. But when we find our tribes, we find our colleagues; we find our friends; we find our place. Being a qualitative researcher means emotional immersion, connection, feeding your spirit, an openness to the highs and lows of humanity, an angry sense of social justice and activism when things are not the way they should be, and a coming together of like minds and like souls. It means a passionate investment in the inquiry, not just working at it but loving what you do, finding joy, hope, and even fun in the endeavor. Too much emotion can be harmful, but too little of it can be dangerous in the world today. It means acknowledging that emotions are not an analytic nuisance to be kept in check but a driving force of human action and inquiry. Emotional immersion means your eyes watering up after you’ve written something down. Being a qualitative researcher means gifting your ideas. Remember that the root meaning of datum is not something collected but something given. And giving your new ideas about the human condition back to the academic and lay communities is paying it forward, leaving a legacy of qualitative work that contains not just your knowledge but your ways of working and your personal signature. It is more than simply revealing your findings—it is enthusiastic revelation of your discoveries for the current generation to ponder and for future generations to refine. And finally, being a qualitative researcher means knowing and understanding yourself—knowing and understanding yourself so deeply that it scares the hell out of you. You are your own case study, a mirrored perception of self that is reflective, reflexive, and refractive about your age, your gender, your ethnicity, your sexual orientation, and all the myriad ways you categorize and construct your personal identities. It’s dwelling deeply in your own presence, knowing where you are in place and positionality, in space and standpoint, and in context and in contrast. It’s knowing that if you think and feel a certain way, then perhaps others do, too. And maybe that means a connection, a relationship, and possibly a universal truth. You can’t analyze others until you’ve analyzed yourself.
Qualitative research is not just inquiry about other humans. Qualitative research makes us human.
Purpose: Personal and Professional Validaon Meculous Vigilance of Details Unyielding Resiliency Visionary Reinvenon Belonging: Communal Grounding Social Savvy Humble Vulnerability Representational Responsibility Finding Your Methodological Tribes Meaning: An Enriched Life Emotional Immersion Giving Your Ideas Knowing and Understanding Yourself