Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology

pp 173-193


Trends and Issues in Qualitative Research Methods

  • Marcia A. MardisAffiliated withSchool of Library and Information Studies, College of Communication & Information, Florida State University
  • , Ellen S. HoffmanAffiliated withDepartment of Educational Technology, University of Hawaii at Manoa Email author 
  • , Peter J. RichAffiliated withInstructional Psychology & Technology, Brigham Young University

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In the almost two decades since the first AECT Handbook article on qualitative research debates about research philosophy, design, and purposes have led to clashes of opinion in the field of educational communications and technology as well as in the larger sphere of educational research. At the same time, the number of publications on qualitative methods specific to the field has increased, expanding the understanding of the potential of such approaches to explore, describe, and explicate key issues in instructional design and the application of technology to learning. While other chapters have included examples of qualitative studies related to specific disciplinary topics, this chapter focuses on trends in the use of qualitative research design and emerging approaches more generally. Within this framework, issues of design, methods, and knowledge generation are reviewed and examined through a sample of recent directions in qualitative studies and designs. For each method reviewed, examples are provided along with common issues and potential directions for future use of these.


Qualitative research Interpretive tradition Case study Ethnography Discourse analysis Cooperative inquiry Grounded theory Research quality