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Steve Thompson

on 10 January 2014

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Transcript of Phenomenography

About the "Guru"

Connection to Prior Theories
Phenomenography is not directly related to any specific qualitative research method. Rather, it was developed to address a coherent research approach that was lacking in other methods.

Phenomenography attempts to build upon the methodological issues associated with phenomenology (Ashworth & Lucas, 1998).
Points of Departure Between Phenomenography and other Research Approaches
(Trigwell, 2006)
Analysis of the Data and Generalizability of the Findings
"Phenomenography is the empirical study of the different ways in which people think of the world" (Ornek, 2008).

Phenomenography has been used to research the experience of learning and teaching, as well as how we experience the content learned. (Mann, 2009)
Everyone has a different way to view their experiences
How is a Phenomenographic study conducted?

A Phenomenographic study consists of using interviews to elicit information from the subjects related to a specific phenomenon. Ideally, the researcher has several predetermined questions to initiate the conversation. Based upon the subject's responses, the interviewer will guide the subject to elaborate on their experiences by providing targeted, follow-up questions. An ideal interview will have the appearance of being a dialogue between the interviewer and the subject (Ornek, 2008).
The Study Group
Given that the purpose of phenomenography is to identify and explain the variations among individual responses to a phenomenon, a phenomenographic study group should be of sufficient size to insure that a variety of experiences is identified (Mann, 2009). Trigwell (2006) suggests between 10 and 30 subjects is appropriate for a full phenomenographic study.
What does Phenomenography do?
Phenomenography attempts to examine the variations in how people experience phenomenon. It is not concerned with the phenomenon itself or with the individual experience of the phenomeon, but rather the variation of experiences that a group may have about a phenomenon (Ornek, 2008).
Historical Development
Phenomenography was developed by Swedish researchers in the 60' and 70's. The leading authority at the time was Ference Marton who formulated the definition and rationale for phenomenography (Ashworth & Lucas, 1998). Additional contributors included Roger Saljo, Lennart Svensson, and Lars Dahlgren (Mann, 2009).
What separates Phenomenography from other qualitative research methods?
Phenomenography is characterized as:
: reality is constructed from the relations between the subject and the phenomena.
: attempts to explore and describe a phenomenon for the data.
2nd order approach
: investigation is based on the experiences of others, rather than the experience of the investigator.
Focus on variation
: concerned with the range of experiences among a group
Internally related
: look for similarities and differences among individual experiences.

Ference Marton is an educational psychologist and professor at Gothenburg University in Sweden.

His primary contribution to qualitative research is the development of phenomenography.

His seminal work on Phenomenography can be found at:

Phenomenography in Action
Analysis of phenomenographic data requires the researcher to look for meaning in the variations that exist among the interview transcripts. Similarities of experiences are grouped together to form categories and though these categories the researcher will identify generalizations for the study group Ornek, 2008).

A weakness of this research method is that the generalizability of the results is confined to the study group since the study group is generally not representative of the population. However, results would be generalizable to other groups with similar characteristics and experiences as the study group (Mann, 2009).
Trigwell (2006) illustrates how phenomenography is applied in a classroom setting in his study:
Phenomenography: An Approach to Research into Geography Education
. The summary by Ornek (2008) gives sample interview questions which shows how phenomenography can be used in the Physics classroom.
(Full citations for both studies is included on the References panel)

Additional research questions that may use this method could include:

1. Does gender influence the experience of students doing animal dissection in a Biology class?

2. How are student perceptions of online learning different from their perceptions of face to face instruction?

3. How do minority students handle racism in the school?
Ashworth, P. & Lucas, U. (1998). What is the "World" of Phenomenography?.
Scandanavian Journal of Educational Research
, 42(4), 415-431.

Mann, L. (2009, February 9). Research Method - Phenomenography [Critical features of phenomenography] . Retrieved from http://aaee-scholar.pbworks.com/w/page/1177079/Research%20Method%20-%20Phenomenography

Marton, F.(1981). Phenomenography: - Describing Conceptions of the World Around Us.
Instructional Science
, 10(1981), 177-200.

Ornek, F. (2008). An Overview of a Theoretical Framework of Phenomenography in Qualitative Education Research: An Example from Physics Education Research.
Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching
, 9(2), article 11.

Trigwell, K.(2006) Phenomemography: An Approach to Research into Geography Education.
Journal of Geography in Higher Education
, 30(2), 367-372.
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