My mini-thesis study employed both the qualitative and quantitative research methods to explore the effectiveness of online learning environment upon undergraduate student academic achievement at Nazarbayev University. The instruments consisted of the student survey (quantitative data) and interview questions (qualitative data) since using different methods of data collection helped in providing a more in-depth analysis of the effectiveness of online learning.
Frankly, from this small-scale data collection I realized that qualitative part of research, without saying, is pretty hard to obtain probably either due to being more inclined to quantitative data collection and analysis or having less experience in qualitative area.
To begin with, one of the challenges I encountered was choosing participants for my study. Unfortunately, it did not turn out how I planned. Most of the respondents were unwilling to take on responsibility. Then agreeing on appropriate and convenient time for all of us was another issue to deal with. So I came to conclusion that if I precede that way my results could be messed up. Consequently, I recruited my subjects through snowball sampling to be clear through my cousin`s personal contacts who were so nice to forward my requests to their contacts to take part in my mini research.
Second challenge was conducting the interview itself. Throughout the interview, I noticed that sometimes interviewees did get off topic if not properly direct them. Now reflecting back on my interviewing process, I think that participants either misunderstood the questions being asked or did not want to give direct answers. Another problem arose from participants` non-talkativeness. Some tended to give brief answers that were generally uninformative or ramble on about irrelevant themes. Besides, sample population seemed to me to contradict themselves: they may say one point in the interview and afterward say completely another thing, which for sure confused me from time to time.
Nevertheless, I should admit that these interviews were of great help. They assisted me to determine whether there were any flaws, limitations or other shortcomings within the research instrument. Additionally, it let me make essential amendments preceding the usage of the study and minimize the aforementioned risks by employing probing questions and piloting process before conducting real interview.