Qualitative Methodology: Drawn to Science Education

Qualitative Methodology

Qualitative Metholdology Page - Drawing of two researchers at a table.

A qualitative methodology was used to interpret interview data, responses to open-ended questions, and drawings. A brief overview is provide here and you can read the full account in:

Professional Identity Development of Teacher Candidates Participating in an Informal Science Education Internship: A focus on drawings as evidence.

In analyzing the data we collected, we considered the goals or strands for science learning from Taking Science to School (National Research Council, 2007) and Learning Science in Informal Environments (National Research Council, 2009).

The later document (NRC, 2009) increased the number of strands to six, including an affective goal and one about identity as a science learner. We utilized the six statements of the NRC (2009) document, because Project Nexus blended formal and informal science education.

The strands state that, "Learners who engage with science in informal environments...

  1. Experience excitement, interest and motivation to learn about phenomena in the natural and physical world.
  2. Come to generate, understand, remember and use concepts, explanations, arguments, models and facts related to science
  3. Manipulate, test, explore, predict, question, observe and make sense of the natural and physical world.
  4. Reflect on science as a way of knowing; on processes, concepts, and institutions of science; and on their own process of learning about phenomena.
  5. Participate in scientific activities and learning practises with others, using scientific language and tools.
  6. Think about themselves as science learners and develop an identity as someone who knows about, uses and sometimes contributes to science." (NRC, 2009, p. 43)

Based on our qualitative methodology we found that the teachers' drawings provided useful data for strands 1, 2, 3 and 5. We used written and verbal data for information for strands 4 and 6. For strands 1,2,3 and 5 we developed a rubric and supplemental scoring instructions to help us communicate the confidence in the inferences that are necessary in any interpretation of data, verbal or drawn. We discussed our interpretative differences and refined the rubric to account for the differences. As a result, we developed both a rubric and an instruction page to describe our ratings based on this continued reliability checking procedure. The numeric ratings reflect the strength of our interpretations of the drawings based on the presence of image evidence.

A key component of our qualitative methodology with drawings was post-drawing communication. Whether by email, phone, or in person, we discussed with the teacher candidates their descriptions of their intentions and their reactions to our interpretations. This allowed us to clarify and validate this form of data.

For a full description of the qualitative methodology used view our article Professional Identity Development of Teacher Candidates Participating in an Informal Science Education Internship: A focus on drawings as evidence.

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