To reduce the likelihood of misinterpretation, the researcher employed various procedures, including multiple methods of data gathering and multiple evidence/instances to explain the researcher’s interpretation of information (Stake, 1998). Creswell (1998) presents Tesch’s eight verification procedures as follows:
Get a sense of the whole. Read through all of the transcriptions carefully. Perhaps jot down some ideas as they come to mind.
Pick one document (one interview) --- the most interesting, the shortest, the one on the top of the pile. Go through it, asking yourself, What is this about? Do not think about the “substance” of the information, but rather its underlying meaning. Write thoughts in the margin.
When you have completed this task for several informants, make a list of all topics. Cluster together similar topics. From these topics into columns that might be arrayed as major topics, unique topics, and leftovers.
Now take this list and go back to your data. Abbreviate the topics as codes and write the codes next to the appropriate segments of the text. Try out this preliminary organizing scheme to see whether new categories and codes emerge.
Find the most descriptive working for your topics and turn them into categories. Look for reducing your total list of categories by grouping topics that relate to each other. Perhaps draw lines between your categories to show interrelationships.
Make a final decision on the abbreviation for each category and alphabetize these codes.
Assemble the data material belonging to each category in one place and perform a preliminary analysis
If necessary, recode your existing data. (p. 155)
He states that qualitative researchers engage in at least two of them in any given verification of different data sources. In this dissertation, the researcher used a) clarifying researcher bias, b) triangulation, and c) rich, thick description.
Stake (1995) points out the importance of clarifying researchers’ biases and assumptions (the etic issues). The “misunderstanding[s] occur because the researcher-interpreters are unaware of their own intellectual shortcomings” (p. 45). Therefore, it is critical for the researchers to be aware of their biases and assumptions which could influence the interpretation of the situation. The more the researchers are unaware of their biases, the higher the risk that they cannot observe and hear what the informants are telling them.
Denzin (1989) and Goetz and LeCompte (1984) state that, for qualitative case study, validation procedures generally are called triangulation, the second verification process. Triangulation has been generally considered a process of using multiple perceptions to clarify meaning and to gain knowledge of observations or interpretations that are not repeatable (Stake, 1995, 1998). It serves also “to clarify meaning by identifying different ways the phenomenon is being seen” (Flick, 1992, cited in Stake, 1998, p. 97). Kidder and Fine (1987, cited in Merriam, 1988) point out the usage of both quantitative and qualitative measures in doing a triangulation. According to Kidder and Fine, this triangulation method enhances the validity and reliability of case study. Merriam (1988) states that problems arise when a researcher is “trying to reach conclusions across studies conducted from different paradigms” (p. 2).
The third procedure that a case study uses to verify validity is rich description. “The detail and depth of the description rendered by the case study permit an understanding of the empirical foundations of the theory” (Hamel, Dufour & Fortin, 1993, p.33). In-depth rich description of the case is critical for explaining and giving the meaning intended by the people in case study. Hence, case study uses words from the informants to clarify what the researchers found the meaning and explanation of the findings.
Validity of Analysis
As reported earlier, three procedures were used to validate this study’s analysis. The researcher commented on “past experiences, biases, prejudices, and orientations that have likely shaped the interpretation and approach to the study” (Creswell, 1998, p 147). As for clarifying her bias, she stated her position on this study in Chapter 1. In Chapter 4, the researcher clarifies her biases and assumptions along with the interpretations. It was important for both researcher and readers to understand the position, biases or assumptions that impact the study.
Triangulation requires multiple and different sources, methods, investigations, and theories to provide corroborating evidence. In this study in addition to the prime data, such as interview, secondary data was used, such as surveys and questionnaire, plus a school handbook. Two friends provided peer review/debriefing. One had graduated from the same program and is familiar with qualitative research. Another was a person who took the role of the peer debriefer as a “devil’s advocate,” an individual who keeps the researcher honest; asks hard questions about methods, meanings, and interpretations; and provides the researcher with the opportunity for catharsis by sympathetically listening to the researcher’s feelings. For interview analysis, these reviewers also took a look at if there were any leading questions that the researcher might have asked to the students.
Rich, thick description was provided for each analysis. This is important in order for the reader to make decisions regarding transferability, which leads them to natural generalization. In addition, rich thick description is one of the most important characteristics of case study. Therefore, it should not be left out of the validation process.
Unfortunately, the researcher could not use member checks, which could have been one of the most meaningful verifications for the study. Since the participants of this study were movable and had a tight schedule, the researcher could not ask for members to check after the analysis. Moreover, the principal of the school and the instructor with whom she had worked left the school. This made more it difficult for her to get member checks. The researcher understands that it could have been most beneficial to check the credibility and accuracy of the findings and interpretations with the participants. Therefore, in the analysis section, the researcher used all the possible information to perform triangulation and rich description to support the findings.