American Journal of Educational Research
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American Journal of Educational Research. 2017, 5(12), 1228-1233
DOI: 10.12691/education-5-12-10
Open AccessLiterature Review

Qualitative Research and Subjective Impressions in Educational Contexts

George Damaskinidis1,

1SemioLab Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Pub. Date: December 29, 2017

Cite this paper:
George Damaskinidis. Qualitative Research and Subjective Impressions in Educational Contexts. American Journal of Educational Research. 2017; 5(12):1228-1233. doi: 10.12691/education-5-12-10


It is common belief that evidence produced by qualitative research is bounded by the researcher’s personal interpretation, and as such is subjective and not generalizable. Qualitative researchers’ personal involvement could highlight hidden aspects of social life and provide insight into people’s perspectives. In educational contexts, research aims to critically inform educational judgments and decisions in order to improve educational action. This study assesses the argument that qualitative research can offer no more than subjective impressions with an emphasis on structured observation as opposed to audio recordings and field notes for the purposes of observation. This discussion includes related concepts such as “point sampling”, “(negative) demand characteristics” and “participants’ reactivity” and reflexivity. The study concludes by arguing that the claim that qualitative research can offer no more than subjective impressions is a rhetorical device rather than a methodological position. Quantitative researchers strive to produce scientific data based on objective evaluations by avoiding any personal involvement in their evaluations and by investigating causal relationships in the widest possible populations. It is this growing interest in generalizability in the qualitative tradition that indicates the researchers’ concern in making their research valid and as widely accepted as possible.

audio recording educational context field notes qualitative research quantitative research structured observation subjectivity

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