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Research Identity Memo

In this assignment, I used Chapter 2 in Maxwell to Guide my Identity Memo in which I identified my goals, experiences, beliefs and emotions relevant to my planned research.

In the Research Identity Memo, I described prior experiences I had that were relevant to my research topic and setting. I explained the goals that emerged for these experiences that have become important for research. I also described how these assumptions, experiences and goals have shaped my decision in choosing my topic. 

Additionally, I point out potential advantages and disadvantages that my goals, beliefs, and experiences have for the study and how I might deal with them.

I discovered the ways that one's subjective thoughts and beliefs could affect the study and participants. Understanding preconceptions, theories and beliefs I hold that are relevant to the study helps me continue to focus the study on answering the research questions.   

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Merriam Chapter 3

After reading Chapter 3 (Merriam et. al., 2002), I had a deep understanding of how cultural views can shape learning in older adulthood. I appreciated that Merriam and Muhamad mentioned Western culture and the norms associated with it before introducing Malaysian culture. The structure and components of the study were clearly defined. The setting of the study was  the country of Malaysia is Southeast Asia. The setting is important because it helps us to possibly generalize the findings or rather consider the possibility that the findings of study will be the same or similar if repeated in a setting quite similar to that of the study. It was important for the researchers to point out the three major ethnic groups: Chinese, Malays, and Indians, but then tie in the common values of the three overall. It helped me to further understand each of the participants a little bit better.  

The researchers pointed out that a qualitative research design would be employed (Merriam et. al., 2002). The sample size was given and thoroughly described. This goes back to the importance of the researchers mentioning the major ethnic groups. Knowing which ethnic group each individual belonged to helped me understand the ethnic group's culture as well as the background for each participant.

Based on the data collected, the three themes found in the study fit well. The researchers explained them in great detail and also provided support for the conclusion. For example, the first theme was that learning is nonformal and experiential. Merriam and Muhamad explain that what the study participants are learning is embedded in their everyday lives (2002). 

The study essentially answered the research questions and gave accounts of what learning in older adulthood meant from the perspectives of the participants. 


Merriam, S. B. (2002). Qualitative Research in Practice: Examples for Discussion and Analysis (1st ed.). Jossey-Bass.


Research Design

The Experiences of Black and Hispanic Women in STEM: A focus on intersectionality and the workplace

The purpose of this study is to reveal the experiences of Black and Hispanic women in STEM careers in Georgia in their efforts to obtain STEM roles and to discover what Black and Hispanic women perceive to as positive organizational practices that lead to desirability regarding recruitment and retention.

I chose to take a basic interpretive qualitative approach for this study. Sharan Merriam and Associates (2002) explain, “learning how individuals experience and interact with their social world, the meaning it has for them, is considered an interpretive qualitative approach (p. 4).



Research Design

Flow Chart

Research Outline

The research outline was the starting point of my research design. When developing my outline, I gained an understanding of how to develop my research questions and structure them in a way that would emphasize the purpose of the study. the research outline, although updated throughout the process, framed the rest of the design. The purpose and focus of the study are the heart of the project.

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Research Overview/Introduction

The research overview explains why the topic is important. It explains the purpose of the study and what the researcher wants to find out. The overview explains the researchers connection to the topic. It also gives insight into how the study can solve a problem and add a different perspective to existing literature.

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Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework is important in showing the relationship between the factors in the study. It is presented as a model. It attempts to explain how each factor may shape the experiences of the participants.

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Research Setting

In describing the setting of the study, it is imperative to include as many details about the setting as possible. One of the reasons for this is because of transferability as it relates to the validity of the study. the setting for the study may even have an effect on the results or findings of the study.

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Research Design/Rationale

The research design and rationale need to make sense and fit with the topic of the research. There are many designs to choose from in qualitative research; ethnography, narrative, case study, just to name a few.

 I chose to take a basic interpretive qualitative approach for this study. This study focuses on the experiences of Black and Hispanic women who are part of the STEM workforce. To understand these women and gain meaning behind their ideologies, I must gather a thick, rich detailed account of their experiences. The basic interpretive qualitative research approach uses methods like interviews, observations, and document analysis which are the most logical ways to gather the data I seek in this study.

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Participant Selection

Choosing the correct participants can make or break a study. if a researcher chooses the wrong individuals they will not be able to gather data aimed to answer the research questions. It is important for researcher to develop criteria for participant selection. This criteria can include requirements for age, gender, living situations, socio-economic level or education level. Despite the criteria, it must be specific enough to limit the study to only those who are beneficial to the purpose of the study.

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Qualitative researchers use three main instruments for collecting data. First, interviews provide the researcher with rich and detailed accounts of a phenomenon as the participant perceives it. Second, observations allow the researcher to witness the experiences of the participants first-hand and observe behaviors and interactions of the participant(s). Finally, qualitative researchers collect documents that may contribute to the study. These documents can be photographs, person diaries, emails, handbooks, or manuals.

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Data Collection

Qualitative researchers use various methods for collecting data. I learned that there are three major instruments used to collect data: interviews, observations, and document analysis. In short, data can be collected using audio recorders, video cameras, video conferencing software, written field notes, and electronic mediums.

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Data Analysis

Subjectivity and culture play a huge role throughout a qualitative study and especially during the analysis of data. Researchers have to make sure when dissecting the data that they use an objective lens or one in which the participant's perspective is at the forefront. I learned that it is helpful and extremely beneficial to analyze data while simultaneously conducting the study. This cuts down on the researcher spending extended periods of time at the end of the study looking at all of the data collected.  It also allows the researcher to recognize themes along the way.

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Validity, in a qualitative research study, focuses on the trustworthiness of the study. I learned that qualitative researchers do not focus on generalizability. the focus is on transferability. In qualitative research, the details of the social context of the study have to rich and thorough enough for other researchers to determine of the study is transferrable to other groups. Triangulation or using several methods of data in a study is also a very aspect of achieving validity.

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Ethics are important in a study because the study cannot happen without going through the proper channels to get approval. The IRB is the first stop. The IRB reviews the research proposal and ensures that it follows the guidelines set forth in conducting studies on humans. The researcher has to understand what, if any, ethical issues will come about during the study. Researchers must be able to explain how they plan to handle any issues that arise. Ethical issues may include confidentiality of participants, confidentially of data gathered from the study,  adverse reactions on the participants due to interviews, etc.



Research Design

When thinking about the different pieces that are incorporated in a researcher design, I think about how each directly effects the other. The research outline helps the researcher to establish the overall topic and importance of the study. It also identifies the questions that the study will attempt to answer.

The research questions determine what type of research design or study one will use. The questions will also effect the instrumentation used. A researcher may choose to use a focus group instead of a one-on-one interview or observation and document analysis.

The conceptual framework is another piece of the puzzle that is developed with the research questions and topic and purpose of the study in mind. 

The instruments used in the study help to establish validity. Validity can be supported through triangulation, which uses all data collected to support findings. Validity can also depend on prolonged exposure.

The ethical issues involved in the study must be established even before the study begins. 

As you can see, each part is vital to research study and one cannot exist with the others. 


Something New

I am very interested in exploring different Qualitative approaches. In this course, we were introduced to all of the various approaches. Sharan Merriam and Associates (2002) did a great job provided a detailed overview of what each study look like in practice. I would like to gain mastery level knowledge of each of the approaches and understand when it is plausible to employ one over the other. As, I am strongly considering a narrative approach for my dissertation, I know the overall design depends on the research questions and purpose of the study.