Qualitative Data Gathering

I might be jumping the gun here a bit with an early reflection, but it's timely for me, so I'll post!

I've completed 2 of my 4 interviews and have transcribed the recordings. Wow, I went into that blind! I was completely caught off guard by the amount of time it took to do this. I think I got better (about 2/3 of the way through my second interview) of playing the tape slowly enough that I could keep up with the typing (I'm about 70 wpm typing) but even then it was like listening to two really drunk people talk (because the tape was going sssoooo sssllloooowwww). Thank goodness for modern software - now if I could only afford that Dragon Naturally Speaking I'd interview more people!

The main thing I want to reflect on here and get feedback from others is with regard to the actual transcripts. Cresswell suggests recording everything word for word, indicating pauses, laughter, even gestures. I've tried my best to do this, but as you transcribe you realize very quickly that we speak MUCH differently than we write. I also plan to do some member checking and indicated to my participants that I would share their transcripts with them so they could make sure that I've captured the essence of what they meant to say.

What I'm worried about is this: I can recall, this summer, one of our presenters talking about sharing the transcript and the interviewee being very offended by the number of "umms", "yeahs", "you knows", "likes", etc. How much of this can I clean up or can I clean up any of it? It seems to me right now that some of it is noise and I'd like to remove that, I don't want people to read what they said and feel surprised about speak patterns and at the same time I want to make sure I stay true to the process and not lose any meaning in the data?

Look for you thoughts?

Research Process: Reflection #1

Outside of flying, anytime I travelled to Vancouver from Alberta we would take the Trans-Canada/Coquihalla route. A beautiful trip on a great highway and even though the trip was long the sights are always so stunning that time goes by quickly. A few summers ago, we planned a trip to Victoria and needed to attend a wedding in Waterton just prior to our trip. We decided to combine the two trips and left for the coast directly from Waterton.

The people I spoke to prior to leaving gave me mixed reviews. Some talked about the beauty, some spoke of the perils of single lane traffic on the #3, some highlighted places I needed to check out and still others told me I was crazy and that I wouldn’t save any real time. In the end we decided to approach the trip with open minds. Being teachers and it being July, we also decided that we would not rush the trip at all. We would stop when we felt like stopping, if we saw something interesting we would pause to check it out. If we wanted to stay an extra night somewhere, we would.

As I embark on my research, I am reminded of this trip. I’m going down a road I haven’t travelled before; like others I’m not sure how hard the transcribing is going to be or how good I’m going to be at interviewing or whether or not my questions are any good. I’ve read lots, many people have “told” me what the experience will be like, but until I’ve been down the road, I will not truly understand.

The groundwork for me is finished. Permissions granted, consents received. This part was surprisingly easy and I feel that I have a nice cross-section of people to interview. My project is a qualitative study of four teachers engaged at various stages of a District wide professional development project. My hope is to better understand how these initiatives are perceived by teachers and to learn a bit about what they perceive “effectiveness” to mean. I certainly have some concerns about whether some of my participants have had enough time/experience to reflect on their involvement in the project, but at the same time I think this will offer an interesting contrast with those that are involved for the second year.

My first interview is on Tuesday and I am busy preparing for that: reviewing my questions, testing my recording device(s). Like others, I’m anxious to get started and to see (hopefully) some patterns emerge from my data.