Qualitative Research:

Denzin and Lincoln (1994) define Qualitative Research as, “multi-method in focus, involving an interpretive, naturalistic approach to its subject matter. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of or interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them. Qualitative research involves the studied use and collection of a variety of empirical materials case studies, personal experiences, introspective, life story interviews, observational, historical, interactional, and visual texts that describe routine and problematic moments and meaning in individuals’ lives.” While Cresswell (1994) defines it as, “an inquiry process of understanding based on distinct methodological traditions of inquiry that explore a social or human problem. The researcher builds a complex, holistic picture, analyzes words, reports detailed views of informants, and conducts the study in a natural setting.”

Characteristics of Good Qualitative Research:

According to Cresswell (1994), the Characteristics of Good Qualitative Research are:

We use a tradition of inquiry.

  • This means that the researcher identifies, studies, and employs one or more traditions of inquiry.
  • We begin with a single focus. The research starts with a single idea.
  • Problem that the researcher seeks to understand, is not a causal relationship of variables or a comparison of groups. Although relationships might evolve or comparisons might be made these emerge late in the study after we describe a single idea.
  • The study includes detailed methods, a rigorous approach to data collection, data analysis, and report writing. This means, too, that the researcher verifies the accuracy of the account using one of the many procedures for verification.
  • Writing is persuasive so that the reader experiences “being there.”
  • Data is analyzed using multiple levels of abstraction. Often, writers present their studies in stages or layer their analyses from the particular to the general reflecting all the complexities that exist in real life. The best qualitative studies engage the reader.

Reasons to Undertake a Qualitative Study:

If an individual is willing to engage in qualitative inquiry, then the person needs to determine whether a strong rationale exists for choosing a qualitative approach and whether there are compelling reasons to undertake a qualitative study. In this respect Cresswell (1994) offers the following advice:

Select a qualitative study because of the nature of the research question.

  • Choose a qualitative, study because the topic needs to be explored.
  • Use a qualitative study because of the need to present a detailed view of the topic.
  • Choose a qualitative approach in order to study individuals in their natural setting.
  • Select a qualitative approach because of interest in writing in a literary style; engaging in a storytelling form of narration.
  • Employ a qualitative study because of sufficient time and resources.
  • Because audiences are receptive to qualitative research.
  • Employ a qualitative approach to emphasize the researcher’s role as an active learner who can tell the story from the participants’ view.

Qualitative Approaches:

“Qualitative research takes the expansion of data approach by searching for elaborations of hidden meanings and multiple perspectives and letting the voices of the participants become the dominant mode of presentation rather than simply condensing the data into depersonalized descriptions that are removed from social interaction and human experiences in the larger cultural context” (Rohatgi, 2008).

A qualitative “approach” may therefore be considered a general way of thinking about conducting qualitative research. It describes, either explicitly or implicitly, the purpose of the qualitative research, the role of the researcher, the stages of research, and the method of data analysis. Four of the major qualitative approaches are Ethnography, Phenomenology, Field Research, and Grounded Theory.

The ethnographic approach to qualitative research comes largely from the field of anthropology. The emphasis in ethnography is on studying an entire culture. Ethnography is an extremely broad area with a great variety of practitioners and methods. However, the most common ethnographic approach is participant observation as a part of field research. The ethnographer becomes immersed in the culture as an active participant and records extensive field notes.

Phenomenology is sometimes considered a philosophical perspective as well as an approach to qualitative methodology. It has a long history in several social research disciplines including psychology, sociology, and social work. Phenomenology is a school of thought that emphasizes a focus on people’s subjective experiences and interpretations of the world. That is, the phenomenologist wants to understand how the world appears to the experience.

Field research can also be considered either a broad approach to qualitative research or a method of gathering qualitative data. The essential idea is that the researcher goes “into the field” to observe the phenomenon in its natural state or in situ. The field researcher typically takes extensive field notes which are subsequently coded and analyzed in a variety of ways.

Grounded theory is a qualitative research approach that was originally developed by Glaser and Strauss in the 1960s. The self-defined purpose of grounded theory is to develop a theory about phenomena of interest. But this is not just abstract theorizing, the theory needs to be grounded or rooted in observation.

Finally, we can say that qualitative research is a detailed description of situations, events, people, and behaviors. It includes what people say about their experiences, attitudes, thinking, beliefs, and thoughts through recordings, documents, transcripts, records, and narrative histories. It is for this reason that this study uses qualitative methods of study that include detailed methods, a rigorous approach to data collection, data analysis, and reporting. Qualitative data collection methods are used in the study to present the content and structure of personal theories with qualitative findings further reflecting on an in-depth understanding of teachers’ personal theories.


  1. Creswell, J. W. (1994). Research Design: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
  2. Denzin, Norman K. and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds., 1994, Handbook of Qualitative Research, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
  3. Rohatgi, Tanu Shikha. (2008). Notions of reality and processes of knowledge construction among tribal children in Ranchi, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Delhi