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The use of modelling for theory building in qualitative analysis

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The purpose of this article is to exemplify and enhance the place of modelling as a qualitative process in educational research. Modelling is widely used in quantitative research as a tool for analysis, theory building and prediction. Statistical data lend themselves to graphical representation of values, interrelationships and operational systems. This article argues that qualitative data can likewise be modelled, to enable further analysis of the phenomenon investigated, to stimulate theorising about the relationship of factors within the modelled system, and to enable predictions for future scenarios to be formulated. Although this approach has been advocated by qualitative research theorists, it is not commonly used in the field of educational management. The extended example offered in this article therefore demonstrates how modelling can be used as both a conceptual and a practical tool in this field of study, enabling both the construction of theory and the process of organisational development and decision making.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Newcastle University, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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