negative impact on children's learning: (1) socio-economic status or, (2) race. To explore this issue, the following qualitative data collection approaches are used: (1) interview studies (2) participant observation, and (3) historical review. Lin (1998) notes that when investigating qualitative research, one must recognize qualitative research may be either positivist, where it documents practices leading to consistent results, or "interpretivist," where it seeks to understand the concepts of poverty and race and their meaning (p.162). These notions are considered in the analysis below.
This paper describes the sampling and data collection procedures used to capture information on student learning, and analyzes the findings in this area. Rank (1994) researchers the socio-economic impact of poverty and wealth on multiple dimensions including children's education. Rank demonstrates the use of the interview approach in qualitative research in his work discussing socio-economic status and its impacts on education. Rank intimately describes his sampling technique, which involved creating a sample of random participants from a county chosen to represent the "overall population in the country" with respect to diversity, rural and urban occupants and economic status (Rank, 1994, p. 209). On gathering his sample and collecting data, Rank notes his sample is not a perfect match of all people of a low socio-economic status, but rather a general sample of people falling into a random sampling most resembling the status of individuals who are average welfare recipients (p. 219). This is one method researchers often use to help minimize liability and recognize the limitations associated with their studies.
When collecting and reporting data Rank interviewed respondents and collected quotes for his analysis that best represented what he called "major themes" or general assumptions he confirmed with the literature available on the effects of socio-economic status on education (Rank, 1994, p. 218). Response rates and the quality of information collected is reported by evaluation of the "consistency between oral responses" and information gathered from files of welfare recipients, along with information about how the interview "was explained to respondents, and the rapport" the researcher felt existed between people being interviewed and the interviewer (Rank, 1994; Lin, 1998, p. 162).
Rank's observations according to Lin (1998) represent the positive approach, suggesting that uncertainly in research is "reducible" by research designs that allow as many observations "as possible" on "what a hypothesis predicts will be an important dimension" (p. 169). In this case, race is viewed as an important factor impacting a child's success in the classroom and later in life. Students of minority status were more likely to be enrolled in welfare programs and more likely to live in areas with less access to funds for computers and other technologically advanced equipment to aid in education. Many were also more prone to the use of drugs, or to become victims of crime in school and outside of school, or know of someone who suffered a crime. While more minority than non-minority students seemed negatively impacted by these effects in education and otherwise, this study focused primarily on the role poverty played. The researcher merely notes that race correlated to a certain degree with one's socio-economic status in the population interviewed for this study.
His studies seem to also suggest familial disorganization was more evident among minorities of low socio-economic status, predicting and confirming this through his hypothesis-based study relying on interviews to confirm his results. People involved in the study seemed to suggest poverty or low socio-economic status had a negative impact on their lives, including their children's education, more so than other factors as race. To establish greater validity the researcher is sure to compare the results of his study with literature gathered on the subject. This is critical in an interview-based qualitative research approach, as is random sampling, because the results are more subject to subjectivity. This can stem from the participants involved or the researcher.
For example, participants asked questions on one day may respond one way but another way a different day, based on their surroundings, the environment interviewed in or the rapport established between the interviewee and person being interviewed. The results of the researcher may also lean somewhat toward validating the researcher's hypothesis which may lead to some subjective analysis. Fortunately in this case Rank (1994) conducts research providing alternative analysis of the results to confirm and legitimize his findings and study conclusions.
In another exploration of race and socio-economic status, Anderson (1990) devises an ethnographic study examining public culture and the life of people living in the streets in two communities adjacent to each other (Lin, 1998). One community included mostly white people with middle to upper-class incomes and the other consisted of minority lower socio-economic, working class participants (Lin, 1998). To gather consistent information and collect data, Anderson (1990) engaged in participant observation, immersing himself into the community he was studying and connecting with the people living in the area explored. Anderson states, "To gain an effective point-of-view, I frequented Laundromats, brunches, schools, parties and community gatherings" (Anderson, 1990, p. 1). Anderson reports socio-economic status is more of an indicator of one's success not only in education but also in opportunity as children grow into adults.
The researcher noted that often middleclass Black families would move into cities and displace black people with lower incomes, contributing to unemployment rates, drug use among children, disorganization of families and behavioral problems in school (Anderson, 1990). The reason economic status is cited as more prevalent then race is Anderson's observations that white people displaced in the community often suffered the same obstacles. Those with access in the community to funds had access to better teachers, were more likely to receive support from their families and more likely to resist substance abuse and other problems rampant in communities.
The participant approach taken by Anderson allowed him to connect to the perspectives of people on both sides of the issue from a subjective and also objective vantage. He used information gathered from previous literature to compare with the information gathered from his study to confirm the validity of the study results. This approach as Lin (1998) notes would be interpretive in nature because the researcher immerses him or herself in the culture examined, taking notes as a form of data collection and synthesizing material outside of the study environment. The interpretive approach is not as different as one might expect from the positive approach, because both work to help limit bias. In this case Anderson (1990) is not overly concerned with the technicalities of research but does confirm results with other alternative explanations for the results. However, by immersing himself into the subcultures studied, he is able to attach meaning and context to the results and conclusions he comes to. Lin (1998) suggests combining positivist and interpretive approaches to prevent research in this type of study from being too "microcosmic" or limited to the reactions and observations of those immediately or intimately involved in the study, including the participant observer (p. 169).
Anderson (1990) suggests by immersing oneself into the study environment, solutions to negative impacts on child education resulting from economic status are more easily devised, because the researcher can propose solutions a community is more likely to approve of. This results because of the participant approach, where interpretations are based not only on the assumptions of the researcher but also the researcher's experiences with the community he or she works with (Lin, 1998). On comparing this study with the first, it seems they two are at odds; Rank suggests those living in the context of poverty are more likely to suffer long-term negative impacts that extend into areas of life outside of education. Anderson suggests the effects race has on education can be overcome through changes in the community that are brought about by bringing more awareness to problems within the community and asking members of the community to contribute to the problem solving process.
Block, Balcazar & Keys (2001) explore the effects of race, poverty and disability on many aspects of life including childhood education and social and environmental disparity. The model used by the researchers is a historical study presenting a conceptual history and framework for reviewing the "interrelation of race, poverty, and disability" with respect to theory and action. The authors review three separate models during their discourse on race and poverty. Two models are pathological in nature, meaning they review the biological and cultural which evaluate poverty and disability. The "power" model as the authors describe throughout history, represents the relationship minority status or race has on one's success, achievement, ability and status (Block, Balcazar & Keys, 2001, p. 18). The researchers collect data and present data in a tabular format, presenting the similarities and differences between each of these models. This comparison approach allows those reviewing the study to note the strengths and weaknesses of the historical data gathered on the effects of these three elements on a child's education, living environment and future growth.
Sampling involved reviewing twentieth…