While a research methods class isn’t necessarily an ideal venue to receive revelations of a personal nature, the latest readings on quantitative analysis have made me aware of how my ever devouring mind works as it continues to seek out and absorb valuable information and higher-level knowledge. Here, there is the qualitative side that is always talking to people, making new friends, learning their stories, and offering help. That’s the creative side. Then there is the quantitative side, the side that wants to break down almost everything into a method, into a process, to make things work like a factory assembly line. That’s the logical side, but it’s also the side that realizes humanity is not a factory and will not evolve successfully if we treat it like a government program of numbered live bodies. Both get along as I work to help people help themselves while I develop simple systems they can use to learn and grow.
I have struggled to read and understand quantitative research for several years, and when I struggle I don’t give up, I usually break concepts down into smaller chunks. Previously, I was instructed to look at certain sections for answers. Sometimes that’s worked and many times it has not. The readings here have done that and more for me in unexpected ways. Sometimes I break things down into my own set of lists to help me retain and to help me understand. This week there were a lot of lists that broke things down into tiny little increments. None of them were of my own making. Locke, et al (2010), especially the, “12 Steps to Understanding a Quantitative Research Report,” in Chapter 7.
Outside of academia, I’ve heard the dictum, “teach to understand,” but I have never read it in an academic context. For some of us who will make presentations in classrooms, in conferences, and even in community centers, this might be everything, and it might even be revolutionary. When I make an effort to explain propaganda as a concept to someone who doesn’t understand it, breaking it down as a definition, as a history lesson, most understand it better than what they were led to believe. Locke, et al (2010) discusses this teaching to understand in depth for the whole of Chapter 8, breaking down the twelve steps into even finer detail. For some, this may seem pedantic or not quite condescending, but consider explaining our studies, our readings to non-academics. The words I chose to explain concepts, bear a direct relation upon communication, if there is going to be any. The authors caution us in detail to be aware of our audience.
Creswell (2014) breaks it down even further focusing on surveys with another extremely valuable list that is easily used to design a proposal with a quantitative survey or understanding one in an academic journal. Creswell doesn’t caution clear communication, explicitly, between reader and writer or speaker and audience, unfortunately. While I understand quantitative literature much better, I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough.
The survey that I selected to participate in obviously involved opinions on music and personal relationships (Krause, North & Sheridan, 2016). I have participated in such surveys in the past and my assessment of them has not changed, even through this experience. There is little room for nuance with the questions, even multiple choice questions and questions that don’t apply. While all surveys are not created equal, I have yet to find one that encompasses all that proposes to explore. Additionally, there are words and selections used throughout that showed the biases of the creators, including the census-like questions regarding ethnicity, and the entire section exploring sexism, romantic relationships, and partner violence where women were referred to as girls, “By being dominated, girls get sexually aroused,” and “Girls who tease guys should be taught a lesson.” (particularly noticeable when at least two of the authors were women). With survey questions subtlety is lost and they are designed to gather information rather than effect change and I cannot honestly see myself conducting a survey unless it is a portion of my study or it was used as a preliminary step before beginning any action research. Participants for my research could be gathered from the wider population of black women and girls in the community that I am based (or would like to be based), but before I create a survey, however, an action research team of participants should be gathered to discuss the kinds of survey questions that would benefit the wider community.
Locke, L. F., Silverman, S. J., & Spirduso, W. W. (2010). Chapters 6, 7, 8, 9. In Reading and understanding research (3rd ed., pp. 158-279). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Creswell, J. W. (2014). Quantitative Methods. In Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (4th ed., pp. 155-166). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Krause, A., North, A., & Sheridan, L. (2016, April 19). Exploring interpersonal relationships and music listening. Retrieved September 21, 2016, from https://curtin.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_4PKbJnFIG7bP3Ux