“Qual folks are also their single best enemy. I trained in comparative politics, where qual scholars are respected, because they adopt a case study approach. Many of the qual researchers I see in education and other areas tend to do dumb things like:
- Abandon any approach to representative sampling when they select participants. They refer this as “purposive sampling” but it is often just an excuse for laziness – representative samples require a lot of work to collect. In a world where K-12 students are now being trained in the nuances of populations and samples, how do you think the average person, or policymaker, reacts to your study when you admit that the people you interviewed are not representative of anything?
- Some qual researchers insist there are multiple realities. What do you think the average person, who lives in a single reality like most of us, thinks of this idea?
- Some are also opposed to any notion of causality and reject the entire concept. Yet we live in a time when voters and policymakers are desperate for solutions to society’s problems. Do you honestly think they want to hear from someone who says, “Sorry, but I can’t really say whether smaller class size causes students’ test scores to increase. I can only describe the students’ experiences”? Such an approach is not very helpful to school districts trying to decide between hiring more teachers versus increasing teacher compensation.
In short, the future of qual research looks grim.”