synthesis paper examines the different views of authorities based on their
published works when it comes to Phenomenography. This paper will try to
compare and contrast these views and its application to research.
Beginnings of Phynomenography
Phenomenography is a qualitative research methodology, within the
interpretivist paradigm, that investigates the qualitatively different ways in
which people experience something or think about something. It is an approach
to educational research which appeared in publications in the early 1980s. It
initially emerged from an empirical rather than a theoretical or philosophical
basis. Originally developed in Sweden,
phenomenography studies the variations in ways that people look upon,
experience, or understand phenomena in the world around them (Marton &
Booth, 1997). It rests on a non-dualistic ontological perspective, that the
real objective world and a subjective world of mental representations are not
separate (Marton, 2000). Instead, the world is “simultaneously objective and
subjective,” which means that an experience “is as much an aspect of the object
as it is of the subject”
(Marton, 2000). In the same manner, a phenomenon, or object
of experience, is seen as a complex of the different ways in which it can be
experienced. These different ways are related to each other because they are
experiences of the same object (Marton, 2000). Phenomenography is not to be
mistaken for phenomenology, a well-established qualitative method used within
healthcare research for many years, which investigates phenomena in order to
reveal their structure or logic, and essence (Giorgi, 1999; Sjostrom &
Dahlgren, 2002). . It’s the aim is to study the variation of peoples’
conceptions of a given phenomenon in the surrounding world (Marton, 1981).
Phenomenography has been regularly used
in health services research, such as in studies on medical students’
understanding of medical practice (Dall’Alba, 1998), general practitioners’
conceptions of asthma treatment (Sta?lsby-Lundborg, Wahlstro¨m & Dall’Alba,
1999) and diabetes care professionals’ understanding of the patient encounter
in diabetes care (Holmstro¨m, Halford & Rosenqvist, 2003). It’s ontological
assumptions are subjectivist: the world exists and different people construct
it in different ways and from a non-dualist viewpoint (viz., there is only one
world, one that is ours, and one that people experience in many different ways)
and it’s research object has the character of knowledge; therefore its
ontological assumptions are also epistemological assumptions.
Phenomenographic Data Analysis
analysis of phenomenographic researches could be done in many different ways
(Sandberg, 1994; Dahlgren & Fallsberg, 1991). In any case, the structural
and referential parts of the studied phenomenon are basic. That is, we consider
both the ”what aspect” of the phenomenon, and the ”how viewpoint” of it. At
the point when the sources discuss this wonder: what do they discuss and how
would they discuss it? The phenomenographic investigation was done by the main
writer (JL) while the second writer (IH) went about as a co-reader.
data analysis in phenomenographic research, the researcher will identify
qualitatively separate categories that describe the ways in which different
people experience a different concept. There can be a limited number of
categories for each concept from the study. And these categories can be found
in interview transcriptions (Booth, 1997). Sjöström’s study stated that the
analysis includes certain steps. These steps are as follows:.
first step is familiarization, which means the researcher becomes familiar to
the material by means of reading through the transcripts. This step is
important in making corrections in the transcripts.
second step is compilation of answers from participants to a certain question.
The researcher should identify the most significant elements in answers given
third step is a condensation, or reduction, of the individual answers to find
the central parts of a dialogue.
fourth step is preliminary grouping or classification of similar answers.
fifth step is a preliminary comparison of categories.
sixth step is the naming of categories.
last step is a contrastive comparison of categories. It includes a description
of the character of each category and similarities between categories.
Experts’ Views on Phenomenography
There are various ways in which
people experience or understand a given phenomenon, because different people
experience a phenomenon in different ways. Phenomenographers seek to identify
the multiple conceptions that people have for a particular phenomenon. The
conception of researchers about a given phenomenon is not the focus of the
study, because the focus of phenomenographical study is about the conceptions
that people have on certain phenomenon. For example, as referred to above about
the textbook and the reader, we cannot say the textbook is the same for each
reader since each reader reads it in his or her way from his or her own
perspective. The purpose is to look at the ideas of readers about the textbook
from their perspectives (Walker, 1998). The researcher tries to be neutral to
the ideas of the participants in the study. As phenomenography is empirical
research, the researcher or interviewer is not studying his or her own
awareness and reflection, but awareness and reflection of the subjects or participants
(Orgill, 2002). This is labeled “bracketing”. In other words, bracketing means
that the researcher must approach both the interview and the data to be
analyzed open-mindedly without any input from his or her perspectives.
A concrete example to this is in
investigating ways of experiencing of an introductory physics course by physics
students through a qualitatively designed study, is best viewed through the
framework of phenomenography, since this study is concerned with the ways of
experiencing of an introductory physics course by physics students. Likewise,
it is concerned with the ways in which physics students experience or
understand selected concepts and principles of physics (Martin et al., 1992).
What is meant by “a way of experiencing? According to Morton and Booth , a way
of experience is twofold. The first is the way in which the phenomenon is
distinguished from its context. This is sometimes called “external horizon”.
The latter is the way in which the phenomenon and its parts are related to one
another. This is sometimes called “internal horizon”. So, a way of experiencing
depends on how the parts of the phenomenon are distinguished and appear at the
same time in the learner’s focal awareness and the parts of it move into the
background. While some aspects of the phenomenon are brought into focal
awareness (called the theme), other aspects of the phenomenon remain in the
theme (called the thematic field).
Interviews can be developed
according to both the interviewee’s conversation and his or her response to the
predetermined questions. If the interviewee wants to further explain his or her
understanding about the phenomena, the interviewer should let him or her do so.
When explanations are not clear, the interviewer should ask questions such as
“could you explain that further?” (Barnard et al., 1999). The interviewer has
to make it clear that the interview is open and interviewee can think aloud, be
doubtful and also pause. It is important for the researcher not to evaluate the
answers as being right or wrong. However, the researcher should show that he or
she is really interested in getting the subjects to express themselves clearly
(Sjöström & Dahlgren, 2002). Interviews focus on the world of the
interviewee and seek to reveal their beliefs, values, reality, feelings and
experience of a phenomenon (Barnard et al., 1999). For example, the following
questions were obtained from Ornek’s study , which guided the study about
discovering students’ thoughts, experiences, beliefs and feelings about the
physics course that they took.
Another view from Orgill , in terms
of analyzing data, is that researcher examines the transcriptions of
participants, looking for not only similarities, but also differences between
them. During this process, the researcher develops initial categories that
describe different people’s experiences of the given phenomenon. After covering
multiple aspects of that phenomenon, the researcher develops the categories
that explain all kinds of variations in the data. Then, based on initial
categories, the researcher reexamines the transcripts to determine whether the
categories are sufficiently descriptive and indicative of the data. This second
review of the data modifies, adds or deletes category descriptions, and the next
examination of the data is reviewed for internal consistency of the categories
of description. This process of modification and data review continues until
the modified categories seem to be consistent with the interview data.
In quantitative research, the
issues of reliability are related to sample size and the instrument for data
collection, whereas in qualitative research, there are issues of credibility of
the research results in a different sense. The main issue of credibility in a
phenomenographic study is the relationship between the data obtained from
interviews and the categories for describing the ways in which people
experience a certain phenomenon. The researcher has to show a way to describe
similarities and differences that should be supported by the data from
transcriptions. Having excerpts from the interviews to support the categories
can provide this. In general, the validity of phenomenographic research is
based on three factors. The first is the logic of the system of categories
emerging from the analysis. The categories must be logically separate and
exclusive. The second factor is the correspondence between the results and what
is known from previous study in the field. The last is the probability of the
categories to be considered (Dahlin, 1999). For reliability, two or more
researchers can be asked to analyze the same data independently and compare
their findings (Martin et al., 1992).