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While many external accountability instruments exist, such as state testing, very little research has been done on how internal policies and informal procedures arise. I’m interested in how these come to be, and also in how schools respond to these internal mechanisms.
That’s the power of qualitative research. Instead of just numbers, this multimethod approach to research helps us get to the heart of issues. Qualitative research helps analyze people’s opinions and attitudes, and while more quantitative data can give a picture of results, qualitative research gets to the heart of issues in a unique way.
Qualitative research isn’t for everyone. There is a softness to it that makes many people uncomfortable, yet for those students who persevere, qualitative research can bring forth incredibly rich results. It’s a pleasure to introduce these methods to each successive group of students, and I am always delighted to see the fruit of my teaching in their excellent research.