The barriers to and benefits of conducting Q-sorts in the classroom
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The barriers to and benefits of conducting Q-sorts in the classroom

Laura Killam Professor, School of Health Sciences and Emergency Services, Cambrian College, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Katherine E Timmermans Professor, School of Health Sciences and Emergency Services, Cambrian College, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
June M Raymond Professor, School of Health Sciences and Emergency Services, Cambrian College, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

Aim To outline the barriers to and benefits of using Q methodology in a classroom.

Background Q methodology has been established as a systematic way to measure subjectivity that is consistent with the naturalistic paradigm. While it is often confused with quantitative methods, it provides the qualitative researcher with powerful tools to investigate the diverse subjective experiences and perceptions of participants.

Data sources Reflections in this paper stem from the experiences of the authors and are supported by literature.

Discussion Barriers to conducting a Q-sort activity in the classroom are context dependent and may include limitations of the environment, time constraints as well as issues with comprehension. Despite these barriers, using a classroom for the activity can also enhance student learning, increase participation in research, clarify instructions, enrich study feedback and promote accessibility of the study population.

Conclusion With an understanding of potential pitfalls of using this methodology in the classroom setting, nurse researchers can develop strategies to reduce these barriers and enhance the quality of future research.

Implications for practice/research Q-methodology is an alternate way of measuring the subjective views of individuals in a variety of settings such as clinical practice, research and educational institutions. Q-sorts may be used for research and/or classroom activities because the activity can promote discussion related to the content of a class. If using an activity like this one, educators and researchers need to be mindful of potential barriers to sorting in order to minimise them and maximise the potential of the activity.

Nurse Researcher. 21, 2, 24-29. doi: 10.7748/nr2013.11.21.2.24.e1210

Conflict of interest

None declared

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Received: 11 November 2012

Accepted: 22 February 2013

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