Data collection is all about the details. It has everything to do with using the appropriate format and approach...combined with the right questions...to generate the right type and quantity of data that will allow new knowledge to be generated as a result of the difficult and time consuming work that is "research." Determining exactly which format and approach are best, developing questions that will get to the heart of the research focus itself, knowing how to sift through mounds of information, and putting it together to tell the story of the research and new understandings is no easy task...and there is no single, "right" way to tackle the task.
After watching Dr. Anne Jones' video, "Writing Your Thematic Literature Review," during Week 4, I created a chart for the research I had encountered. The original intent was to assist with identification of themes. During Week 5 and again during Week 6, I added additional columns to assist in capturing information about methodology, data collection techniques, especially salient points buried in the research that I stumbled upon (or that had new meaning on the fifth or sixth time I came across it). The picture all of this information paints in table form makes questions about methodology and data collection very clear: Nearly all of the research I have focused on to date favors qualitative methods. Only one of the studies on my list used a quantitative approach.
Among the data collection strategies in the literature reviewed, in-depth, semi-structured interviews that were audio-taped, transcribed, and then analyzed using constant comparative method were used. In addition, semi-structured telephone interviews (also using constant comparative method for data analysis) and surveys with follow-up interviews served as the data collection method for other studies. One piece of literature included a single-subject case study with a number of interviews spread over a semester of the school year. Only one study focused strictly on data gathered through multiple-choice surveys with no follow-up interviews.
If it is possible to have a "favorite" piece of research, I definitely favor Kaler's study focusing on Native American high school students in Montana (2011). Kaler used a grounded theory approach and cited John Creswell's Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (2014) throughout her methodology section. I became very familiar's with Creswell's text while taking a research class with Dr. Barbara Adams at UAF last year...and the dog-eared copy was quietly waiting for me on the bookcase next to my desk. Kaler used a series of open-ended questions to collect data in her research; because she was studying a population that had not been specifically addressed in existing literature (Native American high school students), she found a grounded theory approach with open-ended questions most appropriate for her work. Consideration of all of the texts encountered for my lit review, as well as careful thought about the data collection methods used in those studies and the appropriateness of the methods for the questions and populations, has led me to believe that a mixed methods approach involving surveys, interviews with open-ended questions, may "fit" my question best, as well.
Creswell, J. (2014). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. Los Angeles: Sage Publishing.
Jones, A. (July 9, 2013). Writing your thematic literature review. YouTube video. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/kgRu-JhmBm0.
Kaler, Collier. (2011). A Model of Successful Adaptation to Online Learning for College-Bound Native American HIgh School Students. University of Montana ScholarWorks. Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers. Paper 272.
Merriam, S. (2014). Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation. 3rd Edition. San Francisco: Wiley.