Watts, Simon, & Martin Hughes (2018). Using Q methodology as a course feedback system. SAGE Research Methods Dataset [online]. London: Sage. (doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781526439390)

Abstract: Q methodology is a combined qualitative/quantitative research technique, which allows the ‘subjective’ or first-person viewpoints of a group of participants to be revealed in a holistic and qualitatively rich fashion. A Q methodological study involves three main stages: (i) the gathering of participant data in the form of Q sorts (each Q sort capturing a participant’s rank ordering of a preconceived set of items/statements relevant to the topic at hand); (ii) the inter-correlation and factor analysis of those Q sorts; and (iii) the interpretation of the emergent factors. The example data, provided by Dr Simon Watts from the University of East Anglia and Dr Martin Hughes from the University of Sheffield, reflects these stages. Q methodology has been used to gather course feedback from a total of 44 students and staff relating to doctoral training courses in Educational Psychology (EP) at the University of Sheffield. The downloadable data include the 62 statements which the participants Q sorted and the 44 completed Q sorts themselves. These data will allow interested parties to run practice factor analyses on the original dataset. Data summarising the outcomes of the researchers’ own analyses has also been provided, including factor arrays and interpretative crib sheets as well as an example of a completed factor interpretation. This latter data has been provided in order that the qualitative skills of Q methodological factor interpretation can be practised and developed. The dataset exemplar will be of use to anyone wanting to experiment and develop their skills in using Q methodology and may, perhaps, be of particular interest to those working in an educational setting and/or who wish to explore alternative means of gathering course/student feedback.

Simon Watts <simon.d.watts> is PGR Training Coordinator and Deputy Head of the Graduate School in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of East Anglia, and Martin Hughes <m.j.hughes> is Professional Director, Doctorate in Educational and Child Psychology, School of Education, University of Sheffield, UK.

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