Hoepfl, M. C. (1997). Choosing qualitative research: A primer for technology education researchers. Journal of Technology Education, 9, 47–63.
The Hoepfl article discusses qualitative inquiry and compares it to quantitative research. The author suggests that qualitative methodologies probe deeper into educational technology than quantitative methodologies. Using a naturalistic approach applied to specific contexts, qualitative research seeks a distinct type of knowledge generation. She states that qualitative research generates situational responses that can be very powerful in understanding learning science, using open-ended questions to derive information. She also explores the role of the researcher in qualitative research, sampling strategies contrasted with quantitative sampling (which usually involves statistical methods), data collection by interviewing and empirical observation, data analysis strategies for data generated by qualitative research, and how judgments of the data are made via a reader in the context of coherence, consensus and instrumental utility. However, the author also highlights how careful the researcher must be to ensure the reliability and dependability of this type of inquiry.
The author gives us great insights on qualitative methodologies for educational research, discussing the challenges of the qualitative paradigm, including humanistic and empirical examination of topics for research, and can be applied more dynamically than quantitative research. It can generate unique and valuable knowledge, that cannot be done with quantitative research. Qualitative research uses inductive data analysis, instead of generating numerical analyses, and results in highly valuable descriptive data. However, this type of data is harder to manage and categorize. It can be more challenging to design research involving qualitative data collection, usually involving collecting data by recording it. With the appropriate methodologies to analyze qualitative data, it can offer deeper insights in the research study of educational technology.
This article serves as a guide for researchers to approach data collection and analysis in a very humanistic manner for educational technology. Since the qualitative study of teacher and student/learner interactions involved in educational technology are much more complex than the responses to an objective survey, a more subjective approach has to be available to study learning science, than for such subjects as chemistry, physics or math. The similarities and complexities that educational research has to social sciences requires that we look at qualitative methods for research not as an afterthought, but perhaps as the primary choice to analyze learning science.