Ramlo, Susan E. (2021). Promoting conceptual understanding of Q methodology using insights from science education. International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches, 12(3), 319-334. (Link: https://doi.org/10.29034/ijmra.v12n3a3)

Abstract: Despite its 80-year history and association with mixed research, Q methodology [Q] has inconsistent terminology, especially as its use expands. Both critics of Q and Q-researchers offer inconsistent nomenclature, processes, and concepts. Furthermore, critics and some Q-researchers struggle with the idea of mixed research, especially integrated analyses and mistakenly draw on quantitative reasoning from their prior research experiences. Possibly, for these and other reasons, larger methodological considerations are often ignored in Q-publications. This situation complicates application of this unique methodology, especially for those new to Q. This article considers Q in the context of science education, and draws from scientific fields to make points about Q. In this spirit, in physics, the ability to perform the mechanics of analyses does not necessarily indicate understanding of concepts or terminology. Additionally, physics students also draw on prior experiences, which leads to misconceptions regarding the laws and concepts of physics. Similarly, I believe that those performing a Q study need to move beyond “doing Q” despite the fact that specialized software facilitates producing results without deeper understanding of the methodology. Therefore, in this article, the idea of conceptual understanding is introduced within the context of science education and then expanded into Q methodology. The importance of understanding the conceptual and philosophical framework of Q is stressed along with the importance of using a common nomenclature. Implications for other research methodologies are included.

Susan E Ramlo <sramlo@gmail.com> is an independent researcher and affiliated with the University of Akron, Akron, OH, USA.