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Facilitating qualitative research in higher education through the strategic recognition of good practice

International Qualitative Methods Conference, Brisbane, 2019

J. Hamilton, M. Harvey, A. Adam

Abstract: New and innovative approaches are needed in higher education research to ensure productive contexts for qualitative data collection. In recent research to identify the support, professional development (PD), and networking opportunities available to, and sought by, academic developers in Australasian universities, we initiated a novel approach to involving research participants. We invited senior staff from Australasian universities to nominate representative academic developers for Good Practice Awards, then send shortlisted finalists to present PechaKucha style showcases at a day-long event. Compared with responses to our online survey requests as a method of data collection, uptake was high.

The event afforded opportunities for data collection through activity-based focus groups and surveys, at the same time as enabling us to test potential new models for networking and PD, while hosting the showcases. Moreover, reflections by finalists–in both their presentations and post-presentation interviews–brought their tacit knowledge to the surface and opened an additional, unplanned line of enquiry. Content analysis of the filmed presentations and interviews enabled us to identify the value of academic development to universities; strategies and principles for good practice; and insights into the value of reflection, sharing good practices, and recognition.

We present this innovative approach to involving participants, the multimethod approach to data collection it afforded, the benefits of capturing multimodal data points, and the unexpected benefits–to both researchers and participants–that arose from recognizing and sharing good practice. We argue that as a strategic approach it not only enabled but amplified the potential of qualitative research.

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