Method or Methodology? What is theoretical framework as a researcher?

For a novice qualitative researcher, some terms are quite confusing: what are differences between methods and methodology? What are examples of methods and methodology? what is epistemology and ontology? Qualitative research requires to describe theoretical framework as a qualitative researcher: what is the meaning of qualitative theoretical framework?

I have summarized my understandings as follows.

Methods – techniques or procedures. For example, interview, field observation, open-ended survey, and so on.

Methodology – strategy, plan or design linking the choice of methods to the desired outcomes

Theoretical perspectives/Approach – our philosophical stance, informing the methodology and providing context for its logic and criteria

Epistemology & Ontology – our theory of knowledge and view of reality, underpinning our theoretical perspective and methodology.


Phenomenology in Ed Tech: theoretical background

I took four days of workshop by Dr. Mark D. Vagle, provided by College of Education, University of Georgia.

While taking four days of workshop about phenomenology, I have thought about using phenomenology in educational technology field. How may I be able to use phenomenological perspective or methodology for my future study? What will be my theoretical framework when using phenomenology? Phenomenology seems like a good entrance of qualitative research methodology (whether taking phenomenological methods or not).

Philosophically from Husserl’s descriptive phenomenology and using Giorgi’s phenomenological methodology? or Heidagger’s interpretive phenomenology and using van Menan’s methodology? or post-intentional phenomenology?

Here is my summary table about different perspectives about phenomenology. (We’ve learned about phenomenology with Mark’s book, Crafting Phenomenologica Research (2014), so the page numbers in the table indicated the book.)

  • Approaches: Intentional vs. post-intentional: these are not a sedentary one, all of these trends still have been in developing. Also, there are lots of fluidity within different philosophies. Though, philosophy and methodology needs coherence.* epistemology: what constitutes knowledge and how can we obtain it?, ontology: what constitutes reality and how can we understand existence?
Categories Intentional I

(book, p.31, F 2.1)

Intentional II

(book, p.31, F 2.2)

Post Intentional

(p.32, Figure 2.3)

Philosophy Husserl Heidegger Ihde (aidi),  Deleuze
transcendental hermeneutics partial
bracketing (reduction) bridling post-reflexion
focused on the thing itself multivocal (multivocality): meanings are multiple/circulating through different modes, meanings are entangled
Methodology descriptive phenomenology interpretive, reflexivity post-intentional (intention is moving, everything is connected)
Goal/results of analysis (phenomenology is creating) invariant structures, there are particulars in the phenomena, Finding “essence” theme understanding tentative manifestation about the phenomena, different forms of data (music, poetry, images)
Methodologist Giorgi van Manen (Vagle)
Beliefs 1 epistemological* ontological: “being” to  ”becoming” “becoming” and “AND”
Beliefs 2 of-ness /Subject influences Object in-ness: I’m in something, find me in the environment through-ness
Reporting data reporting essence, structure/constituents/particulars, re-situated in literature Greenwalt, K. A. (2008). Through the camera’s eye: A phenomenological analysis of teacher subjectivity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(2), 387–399. n/a

As a ed techer, using different types of visualizing tools/methodologies will be very helpful to situate myself into phenomenology.



Mark D. Vagle. (2014). Crafting Phenomenological Research. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Phenomenology: writing “lived” experiences

Why experience is called as “lived experience” in phenomenological research? This question has came up with my mind at the beginning of the workshop. Why “lived”? What does “lived” mean here? What will be a synonym of “lived” here?

I found some clues when we covered Lived Experiences Description (LED) in p.88, van Manen (2001)’s guidelines for writing LED, number 4 (describe the experience as you lived through it) in particular:

1. Think about event chronologically.

2. Describe what you saw, what was said, what you heard, how you felt, what you thought.

3. Try to describe the experience like you are watching it on film.

4. Describe the experience as you lived through it. Try to avoid causal explanations (this happened because…), generalizations (this typically happens early in the morning), or abstract interpretations (I wonder if…)

5. Write in a  straightforward manner. Try to avoid beautifying your account with fancy phrases or flowery terminology.

6. If you want to use names in your description, use pseudonym.

7. Read the example for guidance.



Mark D. Vagle. (2014). Crafting Phenomenological Research. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.


Using software to analyze qualitative research data

I have used ATLAS.ti to analyze my qualitative research data. And I have been wondering about how others are using Atlas.ti or other software like NVivo. I was wondering if there are other options, functions that I have not used or misused.

Dr. Melissa Freeman introduced me a book that recently published by a new faculty, Dr. Trena Paulus in qualitative program in UGA. Dr. Paulus will teach Spring 2015 about usng digital tools in qualitative research and I am not sure whether I will be available to take the course in Spring 2015. But, anyway, I  look forward to reading this book.

Digital Tools for Qualitative Research by Trena Paulus

Future research Ideas: with phenomenological approach

In the last day of the Phenomenology Workshop, we tried phenomenological research writing. Mark asked us to do “speed dwelling (writing)” with the following questions. So, I tried to come up with my future research idea from my dissertation study.

What phenomenon do I want to know?

Phenomenon: In online learning environments, instructors use group work. how higher and lower performing college students interact with group members when they are in online learning environment?

My assumptions: about this phenomenon is that higher and lower performing college students benefit differently from group work in online learning environment. Generally, the goal of group work is to provide learning environment where students can get cognitive challenges and develop higher order thinking. Due to lack of motivation or lower confidence in the subject, lower performing students may not engage into the group work. Also, even higher performing students, who may have interests in the subject, may engage in the group work but superficially.

Early understandings: According to the literatures about group work, positive interdependence influence the effectiveness of group work. Instructors need to provide diverse types and levels of scaffoldings to students in order to achieve the goals of group work. Students in different performance levels have different prior knowledge levels, different metacognitive and cognitive learning strategies, and motivation. To let these diverse students achieve learning goals, instructors need to scaffold the group work.

Intensities, Leaks, and flow: I need to make sure whether I am talking about engaging into the group work or learning from group work. “What are goals of group work and do group work achieve these goals” will be my questions. Students may engage into the group work but may not reach to the learning achievement. What is my focus of interests? I think my interests are in “learning achievement”. What kinds of learning in group work? Cognitively, students need to learn content knowledge and with the content knowledge, student should be able to grow their thoughts about the content with higher order thinking: evaluate, criticize, analyze, and synthesize.

Reflection after talking with three attendees in the WSI have changed my introduction about my phenomena. Based on the parter, I try to give more examples to my partner. But start with same sentence. Key words so far were, group work in online learning environment, instructors’ helps, positive interdependence. But, while talking I was not confident about what is my phenomena? I think I am talking about research problems and my assumptions about the topic that I’m interested in.

My Follow-up Questions: how can I gather(not collect) Lived Experience Description(LED)? What types of data?

I had a mini conference with Mark about my research idea. His suggestion of using phenomenological approach is (1) gathering LED of instructors who provided scaffoldings or (2) LED of lower or higher achieving students in different group composition settings could be good data.

Good example of writing interpretive phenomenology study:

Greenwalt, K. A. (2008). Through the camera’s eye: A phenomenological analysis of teacher subjectivity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(2), 387–399. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2006.11.006