Guidelines for Block 4 Assessment Synopsis Source: Maxwell (2013) The objective

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Nov 27, 2021


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Guidelines for Block 4 Assessment
Source: Maxwell (2013)
The objective of the Block 4 Assessment is for you to demonstrate your fundamental understanding of the nature and purposes of Qualitative research, by conceptualizing your dissertation research in such a way that it can be designed as a Qualitative study to answer a Qualitative research question.  It involves integrating your actual research goals and basic conceptual framework with the special nature, assumptions, and purposes of Qualitative research to arrive at a well-stated research question that can be answered using Qualitative research methods.  A successful assignment will
demonstrate a sound understanding of the nature, strengths, and limitations of Qualitative research
demonstrate your creativity in conceptualizing or imagining your own dissertation research as a purely Qualitative study
clearly describe your own research goals and experiences
clearly describe the nature and basis of a conceptual framework for your research
clearly state central research questions relevant to your dissertation research that can be answered using Qualitative methods
clearly explain the interrelationships among your research goals, conceptual framework, and research questions
A.  Taking Stock of Your Research Goals
Revisit your notes or expanded Memo from Session 2 on Researcher Identity.  By this time, after engaging in further reading and workshops, you may have new answers to some of the following questions.  Make some notes or an outline in answering again some of these interrelated questions:
1.What prior connections (social and intellectual) do you have to the topic, people, or settings you plan to study?
2.How do you think and feel about these topics, people, or settings?
3.What assumptions are you making, consciously or unconsciously, about these?
4.What do you want to accomplish or learn by doing this study?
5.What prior experiences have you had that are relevant to your topic or setting? 
6.What beliefs and assumptions about your topic or setting have resulted from these experiences?
7.What goals have emerged from these, or have otherwise become important for your research?
8.How have these experiences, assumptions, and goals shaped your decision to choose this topic, and the way you are approaching this project?
9.What potential advantages do you think the goals, beliefs, and experiences that you described have for your study? 
10.What potential disadvantages do you think these may create for you, and how might you deal with these?
B.  Reviewing the Purposes for Which Qualitative Research Methods are Appropriate
Re-read Maxwell (2013) Chapter 2 (Section on “What Goals Can Qualitative Research Help You Achieve”), Creswell (2013) Chapter 3 (Section on “The Characteristics of Qualitative Research” and “When to Use Qualitative Research”), and Fairbrother (2007), focusing your attention on the purposes for which Qualitative methods are particularly suitable.  Write your own brief summary of these purposes. 
Next, compare your own research goals as outlined in Section A with the Qualitative research purposes outlined just above.  Among your own research goals, which are most suited to achieving in a Qualitative research project?  Alternatively, how can your own research goals be adjusted to fit with one or more specific purposes of Qualitative research? 
C.  Conceptual Framework
Based on the sum of your relevant reading (the one or more articles relevant to your dissertation research topic that you have selected for workshop activities and any other outside readings) and workshop discussions, you should now be able to develop a basic, tentative concept map to begin developing a conceptual framework for your own Qualitative research study. 
You should now attempt to develop this concept map to guide your writing of this Report.  Reproduced below is Maxwell (2013) Exercise 3.1 with some modifications.  Engage yourself in these thinking and note-taking exercises to develop your concept map. 
How do you develop a concept map?  First, you need to have a set of concepts to work with.  These can come from existing theory, other empirical literature, or from your experience.  The main thing to keep in mind is that at this point you are trying to represent the ideas or theory you already have about the phenomena you are studying, not primarily to invent a new theory. 
If you don’t already have a clear conceptual framework for this, there are several strategies you can use to develop your map.
1.Think about the key words you use in talking about this topic; these probably represent important concepts in your theory.  You can pull together some of these concepts directly from things you’ve already written about your research. 
2.Take something you have already written and try to map the theory that is implicit (or explicit) in this.  (This is often the best approach for people who don’t think visually and prefer to work with prose).
3.Take one key concept, idea, or term and brainstorm all of the things that might be related to this, then go back and select those that seem most directly relevant to your study. 
Once you have generated some concepts to work with, ask yourself how these are related.  What connections do you see among them?  What do you think are the important connections between the concepts you are using?  The key pieces of a concept map aren’t the circles, but the arrows: these represent proposed relationships between the concepts or events.  Ask yourself the following questions:  What do I mean by this particular arrow?  What does it stand for?  Think of concrete examples of what you are dealing with, rather than working only with abstractions.  Brainstorm different ways of putting the concepts together; move the categories around to see what works best.  Ask questions about the diagram, draw possible connections, and think about whether they make sense. 
Finally, draft notes or an outline (at this point, there is no need to draft a complete developed narrative or memo) that encapsulates what this concept map ways about the phenomena you are studying.  Try to capture in words the ideas that are embodied in the diagram.  See Maxwell (2013) Chapter 3 for examples. 
(Source:  Adapted from Maxwell [2013], Exercise 3.1)
D.  Developing Research Questions
The Written Report will ask you to present one encompassing research question and three to four sub-questions and relate them to your goals and conceptual framework.  To help you modify and build on the preliminary research questions that you have discussed in the Session 4 Workshop, you can engage in the series of thought exercises adapted from Maxwell (2013), Exercise 4.1, as below: 
1.Begin by setting aside whatever preliminary Qualitative research questions you already have, and starting with your concept map.  What are the places in this map that you don’t understand adequately, or where you need to test your ideas?  Where are the holes in, or conflicts between, your experiential knowledge and existing theories or empirical research, and what Qualitative research questions do these suggest?  What could you learn in a Qualitative research study that would help you to better understand what’s going on with these phenomena?  Try to write down all the potential Qualitative research questions that you can generate from the map. 
2.Next, take your preliminary Qualitative research questions and compare them to the map and the questions you generated from it.  What would answering these questions tell you that you don’t already know?  What changes or additions to your questions does your map suggest?  Conversely, are there places where your preliminary questions imply things that should be in your map, but aren’t?  What changes do you need to make to your map?
3.Now go through the same process with your researcher identity outline or notes.  What could you learn in a research study that would help to accomplish your goals?  What Qualitative research questions does this imply?  Conversely, how do your preliminary Qualitative research questions connect to your reasons for conducting the study?  How will answering these specific questions with data that can be gathered with Qualitative research methods help you to achieve your goals?  Which questions are most interesting to you, personally, practically, professionally, or intellectually?
4.Now focus.  What Qualitative research questions are most central for your study?  How do these questions form a coherent set that will guide your study?  You can’t study everything interesting about your topic; start making choices.  Three or four main questions (ideally encapsulated in the form of one encompassing question) are usually a reasonable maximum for a Qualitative study.
5.Evaluate how well your question matches one or more of the specific purposes for which Qualitative research is appropriate (Part B above).  If the match is not clear, re-draft the questions to ensure they are appropriate for answering with Qualitative research.
(Source:  Adapted from Maxwell [2013], Exercise 4.1)
Guidelines for the Written Report (1,200 – 1,500 words)
1.Begin with a concise introduction that outlines the content of the whole report.
2.Write a brief summary of the purposes for which Qualitative research is particularly suitable, based on the first part of Section B above.  The rationale for this summary is to focus your attention specifically on and to demonstrate your understanding of suitable purposes for Qualitative research.
3.Briefly describe your own background experiences, assumptions, and research goals, as you have thought about in Section A above.  Then carefully explain either in what ways these match specific Qualitative research purposes, or how they would need to be adjusted to match specific Qualitative research purposes, based on the second part of Section B above. 
4.Describe your conceptual framework, as you have thought about and worked out in Section C.  You can include a diagram if you wish, but make sure that you also explain it explicitly (as if there was no diagram presented).  Explain what the conceptual framework is based upon (such as your own experiences, assumptions, literature review).  Then carefully explain how your conceptual framework relates to the specific Qualitative research purposes you have identified in Step 2-3. 
5.State the central research questions as you have determined in step 4 in Section D above.  Ideally these should be encapsulated in the form of one primary research question which encompasses three to four sub-questions.  Then carefully and explicitly explain how your research questions relate to your conceptual framework.  Finally, carefully explain how your research questions relate to the specific Qualitative research purposes you have identified in Step 2-3. 
6.Make sure that you include a reference list of any articles you cite in your report, following the proper reference formatting as explained in Chapter 14 (Citation System) in the Student Handbook (  The reference list does not count in your overall word-count for the Report. 
Very Important Formatting and Submission Guidelines
Use Times New Roman, 12-point font
Single line spacing
Indent paragraphs or leave a blank line between paragraphs
Referencing should follow APA guidelines as outlined in the Citation System chapter in the Student Handbook
Submit your assignment as a MS Word document (.doc or .docx). 
Please do NOT submit your assignment as a .pdf file.
Submission Guidelines
Submit your assignment from the “Submit Block 4 Assignment Here” box in Moodle.  See for instructions on assignment submission in Moodle.


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