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John N. Singer, Sally Shaw, Larena Hoeber, Nefertiti Walker, Kwame J. A. Agyemang and Kyle Rich

The edited transcript below is from the session on critical conversations about qualitative research at the North American Society of Sport Management (NASSM) conference in Denver, CO, on Friday, June 2, 2017. One of the primary reasons the word critical was included in the title of this session is

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William B. Strean

Various forms of qualitative research can aid our applied practice by increasing our understanding of the contexts and psychological dynamics of sport. To reap greater benefits from qualitative research, a key step will be to recognize and accept different views of knowledge that underlie many qualitative approaches. From this perspective, this paper focuses on possibilities to use qualitative research in sport psychology to describe, interpret, verify, and evaluate phenomena of interest. The potential of qualitative research to allow for surprises and produce understandable and credible findings and theories is also addressed. The spirit of the paper and the conclusion focus on the many ways in which the “goodness” (Peshkin, 1993) or “strength” (Maxwell, 1996) of qualitative research can be part of what is done in sport psychology.

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Laurel Richardson

New writing practices in qualitative research include evocative writing—a research practice through which we can investigate how we construct the world, ourselves, and others, and how standard objectifying practices of social science unnecessarily limit us and social science. Evocative representations do not take writing for granted but offer multiple ways of thinking about a topic, reaching diverse audiences, and nurturing the writer. They also offer an opportunity for rethinking criteria used to judge research and reconsidering institutional practices and their effects on community. Language is a constitutive force, creating a particular view of reality and the Self. No textual staging is ever innocent (including this one). Styles of writing are neither fixed nor neutral but reflect the historically shifting domination of particular schools or paradigms. Social scientific writing, like all other forms of writing, is a sociohistorical construction, and, therefore, mutable.

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Diane M. Culver, Wade D. Gilbert and Pierre Trudel

Part of the on-going dialogue on qualitative research in sport and exercise psychology, this review portrays the qualitative articles published in three sport psychology journals and examines how qualitative research can deepen our knowledge in applied sport psychology. Eighty-four of the 485 research articles published in these journals used a qualitative data collection technique. The interview was used in 67 studies. Peer review and reliability tests were often used for establishing trustworthiness. Member checking was mostly limited to participant verification of interview transcripts. Results were usually presented using both words and numbers. Selected studies are discussed in relation to applied sport psychology knowledge. Published qualitative articles suggest a conservative effort by sport psychology researchers to include the qualitative approach as a legitimate way to do research.

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Megan Self, Simon Driver, Laurel Stevens and Ann Marie Warren

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant public health issue due to the incidence, complexity, and cost associated with treatment. The purpose of this study was to determine physical activity (PA) knowledge, attitudes, intentions, and barriers among individuals with a TBI undergoing outpatient rehabilitation. Seventeen participants completed a series of group interviews regarding their PA needs. A qualitative research design was adopted and trustworthiness was established through investigator triangulation of data. A cross-case analysis was completed to identify themes and conceptual patterns. The main themes identified were (a) an inability to differentiate between PA and physical therapy, (b) a limited knowledge of PA health benefits and the relationship to rehabilitation, and (c) an interest in participating in a PA based health promotion program. Future interventions should educate individuals about PA, the associated health benefits, and the role PA plays in the rehabilitation process.

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Michael A. Hemphill, Andrew R. Richards, Thomas J. Templin and Bonnie Tjeerdsma Blankenship

Previous reviews of research have documented the increasing use of qualitative inquiry in physical education. In this research note, the authors present a content analysis of qualitative research articles published between 1998 and 2008 in the Journal of Teaching in Physical Education (JTPE). A total of 110 empirical articles were published that included a qualitative component, 38.2% of those used mixed methods. Results include analyses of types of qualitative research, research focus, theoretical frameworks, data collection techniques, trustworthiness techniques, and participants. The Research Authorship Score revealed that qualitative research tends to rely on teams of researchers in the conduct of studies. By extending previous work, this study reveals that qualitative research continues to play a significant role in research on physical education.

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Diane M. Culver, Wade Gilbert and Andrew Sparkes

A follow-up of the 1990s review of qualitative research articles published in three North American sport psychology journals (Culver, Gilbert, & Trudel, 2003) was conducted for the years 2000–2009. Of the 1,324 articles published, 631 were data-based and 183 of these used qualitative data collection techniques; an increase from 17.3% for the 1990s to 29.0% for this last decade. Of these, 31.1% employed mixed methods compared with 38.1% in the 1990s. Interviews were used in 143 of the 183 qualitative studies and reliability test reporting increased from 45.2% to 82.2%. Authors using exclusively quotations to present their results doubled from 17.9% to 39.9%. Only 13.7% of the authors took an epistemological stance, while 26.2% stated their methodological approach. We conclude that positivist/postpositivist approaches appear to maintain a predominant position in sport psychology research. Awareness of the importance of being clear about epistemology and methodology should be a goal for all researchers.

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Anu M. Vaittinen

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William A. Pitney

Column-editor : Thomas W. Kaminski

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Mary Ann Kluge