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American Evaluation Association Blog Theme: Qualitative Evaluation

Posted by on February 27th, 2015 Posted in: Communications Tools, General, Non-NLM Resources


The American Evaluation Association (AEA) just concluded a week-long blog theme about qualitative evaluation. Following are some highlights to consider using in your own assessment efforts:

  1. The Role of Context: the authors of this entry previously shared five high quality elements of qualitative evaluation, and this entry referenced them while emphasizing the need for evaluators to understand what role setting, relationships, and other context factors play in data as well.
  2. Purposeful Sampling: a great explanation on why to avoid convenience sampling (interviewing people because they happen to be around) and using caution with your qualitative evaluation terminology to consider not using the word ‘sampling’ due to peoples’ association of it with random probability.
  3. Interviewing People who are Challenging: establishing rapport leads to good qualitative data, but what does an interviewer do if there seems to be conflict with the interviewee? Details about how to manage your own feelings and approach with a curious mindset are very helpful!
  4. Asking Stupid Questions: this example from a bilingual HIV/AIDS training is especially insightful about the importance of clarifying sexual terms, putting aside concerns the evaluator may have about looking ‘stupid,’ and outcomes that led to deeper engagement and discussion from the group.
  5. Practical Qualitative Analysis: many helpful tips and lessons shared, including the reminder of being sure to group our participants’ responses that answer the same question together even if these replies come from different parts of the survey or interview.
  6. Providing Descriptions: sometimes there are concerns expressed that evaluation is ‘only looking at the negative,’ and by including full details about your qualitative inquiry collection and analysis as an additional resource or appendix you can help explain the steps of the process that otherwise may not be evident.

Image of the author ABOUT Alan Carr
Alan Carr is the Associate Director, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region, based at UCLA.

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