Episode 030, How to Know God's Will

Knowing God’s Will is one of the most important yet most vexing issues in the Christian life. People feel the need to know God and to understand what He is doing in their lives, but are often at a loss about how to discern His Voice. How does God speak to us? How do we know God’s Will? What are the mechanics of it all? Are there sources of information that aren’t reliable from a Christian perspective? Why? What can we trust and what understandings should govern our discernment of God’s Will?

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Qualitative Research Sampling

 Qualitative Research Sample. Photo Courtesy Charles Chen on Flickr

Image Courtesy of Charles Chen on Flickr

Qualitative Research Sampling

By Dr. Sharon Warkentin Short
To me, one of the most intriguing aspects of qualitative research is the selection of the sample with whom to conduct the study. In contrast to the probability or random sampling that is standard for quantitative investigations, qualitative researchers generally rely on “nonprobabilistic” (Merriam, 1998) or nonrandom sampling to determine their research participants. That is to say, rather than selecting individuals or groups in such a way that each member of the population under study has an equal chance of being chosen, qualitative inquirers deliberately seek out respondents who have the most to contribute: “the goal is to select cases that are likely to be ‘information-rich’ with respect to the purposes of the study” (Gall et al., 2003, p. 165). This selection approach has sometimes been labeled “purposive” or “purposeful sampling” (Merriam, 1998).
Purposeful Sampling Revisited
An instructive way to think about purposeful sampling is to view such participants as panels of experts in a specific area (Maxwell, 2005), comparable to medical specialists who are consulted regarding a difficult case. In that situation, the goal is not to get an average opinion from an entire population of doctors, but rather to hear what these particularly qualified people have to say (Merriam, 1998). At least fifteen different varieties of purposeful samples have been identified (Gall et al., 2003).
For my research I decided that an intensity sample was the best choice. Described as “cases that manifest the phenomenon of interest intensely but not extremely” (Gall et al., 2003, p. 178), such informants can be expected to provide ample useful data without seeming so rare or exceptional that subsequent readers of the research might feel the study has nothing relevant to say to them.
Non-Random Research Sampling
When I was first exposed to the whole area of nonrandom research sampling, I was very skeptical, because it sounded so contradictory to the tenets of objective, scientific research. However, it was the analogy of the panel of medical experts that convinced me. I realized that, for my study, I was not trying to discover what “average” children, or children in general, thought about Bible stories; I wanted to watch closely how one particular group of children in one Sunday school responded to the stories. The sample that I eventually studied constituted an intensity sample in that their church was field-testing a new children’s curriculum organized around the metanarrative of the Bible. This meant that the teaching materials were explicitly focused on Bible stories, and the volunteers and staff were committed to using the materials as effectively as possible. In this program they were more involved with the Bible stories than a typical Sunday school class might have been, but their involvement was not out of reach for most churches.
Gall, M. D., Gall, J. P., & Borg, W. R. (2003). Educational research: An introduction (7th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Maxwell, J. A. (2005). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach (2nd ed.). Vol. 41. Applied Social Research Methods Series. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education (Rev. ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

The Researcher as "Instrument"

Courtesy Garnet on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/youraccount/7839525406/in/photolist-cWKBM9-cWKBNU-8xxzxj-cLhFzE-d6XHtL-akniGH-pxTdLA-dfVMGP-h7r2qY-fPtqmy-e8SuXx-9a3Fhh-9a3Fqb-9a3F1m-8xxzCE-8xxzF1-8xxzyG-8xuxRF-8x9GsA-9qRYfm-ainAmX-uKqau5-uKq9eQ-bYLoe5-8VjWA6-8nxqA1-kWZ5jL-6xAe56-kWYd2F-8Upvne-sXNXA-ejvxYA-5sVSGL-5sVRPA-5sRsDz-5sVRWG-5sRszp-5sVSEW-5sVSK7-5sRsRv-5sVSyy-5sRt3a-5sRsre-nyhLEu-nyiovK-msXGM9-msWqhB-msWo36-msWmWZ-msVMBe
Courtesy Garnet on Flickr

The Researcher as “Instrument”

By Dr. Sharon Warkentin Short
In the world of qualitative investigation, a great deal of conventional wisdom about what constitutes scientific research is turned on its head. As explained in a previous post, for example, the concept of a representative random sample simply does not apply. Instead, the sample is purposefully selected according to specified criteria for what these participants might be able to contribute. Another surprise for me as I learned more about qualitative research was that there is nothing “objective” about the role of the researcher.
In quantitative research, the person conducting the study tries to stay out of the way as much as possible. The goal is for the researcher to hold to an absolute minimum the effect that he or she might have on the data collection. A key standard for the strength of such research is that another individual, following precisely the same research design, would come up with exactly the same results.
By contrast, one of the distinguishing features of all qualitative inquiry is the recognition that the researcher is the primary data collection instrument. “Data are mediated through this human instrument, the researcher, rather than through some inanimate inventory, questionnaire, or computer” (Merriam, 1998, p. 7). In this capacity, “the researcher enters the lives of the participants” (Marshall & Rossman, 2006, p. 72), and this essential relationship introduces dynamics that are distinctive to interpretive research.
Dynamics of Interpretive Research
On the one hand, human data collection instruments can be acutely sensitive and responsive to specific research contexts:

He or she can adapt techniques to the circumstances; the total context can be considered; what is known about the situation can be expanded through sensitivity to nonverbal aspects; the researcher can process data immediately, can clarify and summarize as the study evolves, and can explore anomalous responses. (Merriam, 1998, p. 7)”

On the other hand, a host of interpersonal issues involving trust, respect, intimacy, and reciprocity enter in, which are not significant factors in quantitative research where the investigator can remain detached or completely anonymous from the respondents. My study design from beginning to end had to take into account my personal relationships not only with the children whom I was observing, but also with their parents and the volunteers and staff people who led the program. Unless these relationships were positive, respectful, supportive, cooperative, and appreciative, there could be no research. Therefore, to be granted such a role is a tremendous privilege and a great responsibility.
Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2006). Designing qualitative research (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education (Rev. ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Juggernaut Status (In Your Quest for an Academic Career)

Photo Courtesy of Marine Corps on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/marine_corps/15038063844/in/photolist-oUS1sQ-nQcCih-9wq8aK-6HvMZt-pjQGrR-7RANui-e5Zx7W-6HvMTk-nxMg1X-e82kut-9vS8kn-6TQMqr-7PMjuR-eKeno4-bGJTrX-hdz7ao-e5TTn4-ft51zg-pv1ocJ-bF8HC4-e5TTjp-dg9o2M-XNKHu-c7txx7-4Cw2wD-e5Zx6Q-e5Zxcw-a81T5x-e5TTCR-e5TTgR-a84Kuw-dg9DeF-dg93pn-dg95mN-dx1FvH-fT7fAM-ftjmFA-dg9rdt-dg9sRS-e5Zx8m-9KchKT-rwhzw7-9seMJJ-a1KbFE-e5TT9R-9pxHXt-bGetGa-6HzRkm-a1K9cj-a1Jufm
Juggernaut Status
Staying focused during the academic job search can be challenging.  Lots of things vie for one’s attention, and this can distract even the most committed scholar. For this reason, the successful candidate needs to stay connected to their career vision. He or she also needs to look within and find the vitality to maintain the intensity required for the sometimes challenging search process. The essence of this is described in this video on developing Juggernaut Status.
After viewing this resource, be sure to go to our “Library” tab on the Academii website menu to gain access to amazing resources to help you on your way.

Photo Courtesy of Marine Corps on Flickr

Advancing Your Academic Career Through Blogging

Image Courtesy of KristinaB on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/barnett/2836828090/in/photolist-5jFua9-2NE65H-fcFSH-5vr8AD-nsHVZ1-53RCCs-5LGncg-GoGK7-siyFa-fcFao-waV7u-5PC2h-5w2mwv-8FWfyj-t4wP-5b2SHx-fpY49-2ToGm6-7AF1hr-4jqtVo-7EYg8H-5T3wwy-nxBta-c658FS-dzjAky-bC3rXP-cC1bJs-3aZBuR-4YYHCn-8hQekB-5Bo3Jf-BsSBE-56xqcd-5FknuQ-7T9xQj-4UguPy-bnok7-bTVtJP-4pobhA-peJ8R-6tqDi-5rwwAb-8ykuf1-4LyLmB-8Ut2td-dUnZaM-aj2RRC-hzxKSV-58bUfr-ajiSCt

Advancing Your Academic Career Through Blogging

Blogging is a media of enormous influence today, but one that is frequently neglected by academics and would-be professors.  This is largely due to the fact that it is sometimes deemed “not scholarly,” but that is a short-sighted view of one of the world’s most influential media.  Instead, one might consider that however scholarly an academic journal may be, what it boasts in terms of erudite academic credentials, it lacks in popular appeal.  The opposite is often true for blogging.
But rather than taking the bait of the false-dichotomy of the “either/or” fallacy (EITHER blogging OR journal articles), why not do both?  Blogging is a way for a person moving to higher education to gain a following.  This credibility converts into having influence over potential students and to public credibility, both of which universities and other institutions want.  For this reason, we shouldn’t neglect nor underestimate the value of blogging as a way to enhance our attractiveness as an academic candidate.
Learn more about this idea below in the featured video. After viewing this resource, connect more deeply with Academii by taking advantage of our mini-course featuring a full month’s worth of daily video vignettes by joining our free Academii Gratis membership.

Image Courtesy of KristinaB on Flickr

Episode 028, How God Works

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How does God work?  What is the Divine Modus Operandi?  What’s God’s M.O.? 

That is the question being answered in this episode of FREDTalks.  Taken from a talk given at Saddleback Church’s Irvine South Campus Men’s Ministry, this is part of a series entitled “Compass: Navigating Life.” 

Check out this episode of FREDTalks Podcast!