Recording impact change on entrepreneurial mindset of learners
The validity of experimental methods and quantitative measurements, appropriately used, has never been in doubt. Within the last decade, qualitative methods have ascended to a level of parallel respectability. The field of evaluation has come to recognise that that, where possible, using multiple methods, both quantitative and qualitative, can be valuable since each has strengths and one approach can often overcome the weakness of another.
Ironically, the paradigms debate (qualitative versus quantitative) is no longer often debated amongst most evaluators. Rather, both are seen as valuable to evaluators, practitioners, policymakers and programme mangers. However, sometimes people are rooted in the simplistic worldview that statistical results (hard data) are more scientific and valid than qualitative case studies (soft data). This is simply not true.
Qualitative data is derived mostly directly from anthropological field methods and more generally from qualitative sociology and phenomenology. It is empirical. Essentially, qualitative research is underpinned by the notion of in-depth understanding as opposed to quantitative which is focused on breadth. Qualitative rarely proceed as a survey with the same questions asked of each respondent. Rather, each interviewee is expected to have had unique experiences and special stories to tell. Thus qualitative expects that each human has important information that may be unique while quantitative research looks for the aggregate perceptions.
Qualitative data consists of detailed descriptions of situations, events, people, interactions and observed behaviours; direct quotations from people about their experiences, attitudes, beliefs and thoughts; and excerpts or entire passages from documents, correspondence, records and case histories. The data are collected as open-ended narrative without predetermined, standardised categories such as the response choices that make up typical questionnaires or tests.
Thus, qualitative research provides rich, in-dept understanding of what is happening. It is empirical and as ‘scientific’ as quantitative studies.