Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mindful Inquiry of Social Research

     “Mindful Inquiry is based on the idea that your research is – or should be – intimately linked to your awareness of yourself and your world” (Bentz & Shapiro, 1998, p. 5). I find myself reflecting on the reading and trying to understand how to insert myself into the inquiry process. This will provide a bit of annotation on the four cultures I looked at and my personal reaction to each of the cultures.

     Evaluation research is often used in public and non-profit sectors of industry. This culture of inquiry looks at the effectiveness of a program in meeting their objectives. The researcher is often someone not associated with the agency that conducts the research into what worked and what didn't work and comes back with some effective strategies to effect change. This is the culture of inquiry I am most familiar with as a consultant just completed a review of our practical nurse education recognition program, and she conducted her research in the fashion described in this culture. The only part that I did find hard to adjust to was when the recommendations came back, which sometimes due to different factors would not be feasible to use. It would take us quite a bit of time to go back and forth with reasons why, and then try to figure out how to change her recommendation into something that would work. I guess this is just part of the process and I will get better acquainted with it as time goes on. It is probably a little tougher because the researcher is removed from us in the aspect that she knows some of what we do but not all of our processes.

     Quantitative inquiry is based on measurement, estimates and quantification of occurrences used mostly in social sciences. This culture uses mathematics a lot because it is a reliable way to show relations. In quantitative inquiry, the research looks more at the whole picture and individual pieces. This helps them to identify commonalities that may lead to a bigger issue. In this culture, the researcher must report objectively and to do this must remain detached from the subjects at all times. If the researcher does not respect this, contamination of the research results may happen. I think this type of research is something I may enjoy doing. From the reading, I see that quantitative inquiry can consist of constructing questionnaires, operationalizing, computer analysis and working away from others, which would work for me as I like developing and operationalizing different things. I am not opposed to working on my own and find I can do some of my best work then. Of course there are down sides to every culture and I am sure I will find out more as I progress through the course.

     Phenomenological inquiry is used to obtain knowledge about how we think and feel in the most direct ways (Bentz & Shapiro, 1998, p. 96). This culture of inquiry is not appropriate for trying to establish attitude or behaviors or when you want to compare situations in order to predict or control (Bentz & Shapiro, 1998, p. 98). This is another culture that I need more time to absorb and understand. I look forward to expanding my knowledge and seeing how I may be able to use this in the future.

     Action research is not so much an inquiry as it is focused on how it can influence or change a system. The researcher conducting action research is driven to change the behavior of a person or an organization (Bentz & Shapiro, 1998, p. 129). The big difference with this is the researcher helps guide the person or organization to develop their own goals and objectives for the change. They do this by identifying the problem, developing a prediction and plan how they will get the results needed in the time needed. Revisiting the issue till the results that are desired are reached could be seen as a major concern with this inquiry. The researcher plays mainly the role of a facilitator throughout the process and provides guidance to keep them pointed towards their goals. The epistemology assumptions with action research seem to be the application of scientific method to a practical problem (Bentz & Shapiro, 1998, p. 128). I can understand the reasons for this culture of inquiry, but I am not sure I understand the components of it. Maybe by the end of the course, when I have studied these more, I will be able to put the pieces together better.

     After reading the four cultures of inquiry I chose, I have the start of a better understanding of what research entails. Further study of the different cultures will help me to flesh out the ones that speak most to me. I am leaning more towards evaluation research as I have experienced this is my place of employment, where I can dissect down the pieces and have it make sense to why the consultant chose to do her research the way she did. I hope as I move through this course to be able to emulate the procedure as well as our consultant did.

Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful inquiry in social research. Thousand Oaks,

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