Many think of PhDs as strong and EdDs as weak. I look at it differently. My PhD is in “Applied Anthro” so I have been dealing with these sorts of issues for some time. Rather than a single continuum from “strong to weak” or “good to bad”, I believe a better approximation would include the two continua of “authority” and “utility”.
The authority continuum begins from the positive end indicating the commanding influence of pure academic knowledge, vetted by the elite of the intellectual community and pruned to the point of perfection. The negative end of the authority continuum represents the least reliable, spurious opinion that is equivalent to a random response.
The utility continuum begins from the positive end indicating such an extreme version of usefulness as to approach the status of “required” or “that which one cannot live without”. The negative end of the utility continuum represents a level of inutility as to represent something without any value whatsoever.
In this way, four options become available:
I. Our Doctoral Program/its dissertations, which balance authority with utility.
II. PhD dissertations/programs that represent the pinnacle of authority but are often not very applicable to the real world.
III. Academic BA (e.g., Anthropology). Not very useful or authoritative in and of itself.
IV. Professional BA (e.g., engineering) or Terminal MA (e.g., MSW).
Morgan, D.L. (1997). Focus groups as qualitative research. California: Sage Publications.
Focus Groups as Qualitative Research: Second Edition
Focus Groups as a Qualitative Method
Focus Groups versus Participant Observation
Main Advantage: Focus groups give the researcher the ability to observe a large amount of interaction on a topic in a limited period of time.
Main Disadvantage: Focus groups do not give the interviewer the same amount of control as individual interviews do. Additionally, focus groups limit the amount of information that each informant has time to share.
Focus Groups versus Individual Interviews
Main Advantage: Focus groups give the researcher the ability to observe interaction on a topic. Additionally, focus groups make it easier to conduct less structured interviews which are especially useful for exploratory research.
Main Disadvantage: The degree of naturalism is lower in focus groups as compared to participant observation (e.g. unnatural social settings).
The Uses of Focus Groups
Use of Focus Groups
Feature(s) and Benefit(s)
Self-Contained Focus Groups p. 18
Research results stand on their own
Linking Focus Groups and Individual Interviewing p. 22
May contribute to future methodology (e.g. unstructured focus group can inform later structured interviews; May assist with learning about the differences among potential interviewees; One method can be conducted as a follow-up to the other)
Linking Focus Groups and Participant Observations
May provide concentrated insight into participants’ thinking on a given topic; May assist with the selection of a site for participant observation; May contribute to theoretical sampling
Linking Focus Groups and Surveys p. 25
May provide an a means to construct future surveys/questionnaires; focus group participants can the sources of the original item pool; focus groups may capture all the domains that need to be measured in survey; focus groups may determine the dimensions that make up each of these domains; focus groups may provide insight into appropriate item language; focus groups may of value in preliminary work by generating hypotheses
Linking Focus Groups and Experiments p. 28
Focus groups may help to define “manipulations” of independent variables in an experimental context; embraced in the experimental research of intervention programs; focus groups can be used to design media campaigns; useful in the selection of appropriate outcome measures; focus groups can “put a human face” on quantitative research
Hunter, M. S., & Agranoff, R. (2008). METRO High School: An Emerging STEM Community.
Introduction and Overview
With the passage of Ohio House Bill 119, Ohio lawmakers launched STEM education across the state and established five STEM schools based on the success of Metro High School. A key question for Ohio lawmakers and the researchers was “How do we take the best practices that have emerged from the Metro experiment and further incorporate them into a successful statewide effort to expand STEM education in Ohio?” The answer, in part, was to use the Metro High School as a case study, to examine both the public/private network and community formed at Metro, and to carefully look at the emerging community within and around the school.
The goal of the case study was to systematically explore the principles, processes, structure and expectations associated with the Metro High School community and network. The larger goal of understanding the Metro networked community was to identify the key mechanisms that ensure sustainability, and enable others to reproduce the Metro High School model in different locales where STEM education is emerging. Continue reading →