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Qualitative Methods

Introduction to Qualitative Methods

I regularly give workshops introducing students and faculty to qualitative methods, and I’ve contributed to a series of research methods videos produced by the CIRTL at University of Georgia in conjunction with BioTAP

Introduction to Qualitative Methods (26:14 total)

Video 1: What is qualitative research? (3:37)
Video 2: Why do qualitative research? (4:45)
Video 3: Collecting qualitative data (7:15)
Video 4: Qualitative sampling (3:12)
Video 5: Analyzing qualitative data (5:17)
Video 6: Considering validity threats (2:08)

Intro to Qual Handout

Expanding Social Research Capacity in the Ag & Environmental Sciences

In an effort to expand the social research capacity within the agricultural and environment sciences, I have trained several Ph.D. students in my home department to investigate social issues related to sustainable turfgrass management. Improving the sustainability of turfgrass management is especially vital because it covers more land area than any other irrigated crop in the US (Milesi et al., 2005). Under my mentorship, Dr. Rebecca Grubbs and Dr. Chase Straw developed methodological skills in qualitative and mixed-methods data collection and analysis—each designing and implementing social science research projects as part of their PhD programs; both have successfully defended their dissertations and have secured professional positions, in part because of the value of their interdisciplinary research.

Dr. Grubbs (now an Assistant Professor, Extension Turfgrass Specialist, at Texas A&M) undertook a longitudinal study of homeowners’ attitudes and behaviors related to lawn management toward designing more effective strategies to encourage pro-environmental management of home lawns. Through an analysis of in-depth walking interviews with homeowners at two time points, and weekly surveys throughout a 20-week growing season, Dr. Grubbs has demonstrated that single, snapshot surveys—the current approach to understanding homeowners’ lawn care behavior and decision-making—are insufficient for understanding either behavioral variability or motivation. The current approach largely limits researchers’ abilities to either accurately model the environmental impact of homelawn management or develop effective strategies for encouraging and supporting pro-environmental behavior. Dr. Grubbs’ work is in preparation for Landscape and Urban Planning.

With an interest in how precision turfgrass management may be able to reduce athlete injury, Dr. Straw (now a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Minnesota) triangulated data collected in walking interviews with intermural athletes and geo-referenced field measurements to characterize athletes’ perceptions of field-variation and injury-risk on natural turfgrass fields, and how these perceptions influence athletes’ play on the field. Examining the relationship between “problem areas” identified by athletes and field measurements, this work suggests that precision management of athletic fields may reduce injury risk. This work is published in Precision Agriculture and Dr. Straw has been invited to speak about this work at several professional meetings. Dr. Straw also received 1st place in the graduate student poster competition at the 11th Annual Global Education Forum (UGA) for this work.