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LEARN Missoula

Data Collection

Data collection, sampling and recruitment strategies are designed to leverage LEARN team members relationships with BIPOCs as well as seek out and form additional relationships with other BIPOC residents and stakeholders who have insights into the issues regarding Missoula’s history of marginalization, inequity, injustice and oppression in its community and municipal structures. There will be two primary sampling strategies.
Purposive Sampling
Purposive sampling establishes criteria for inclusion in this community participatory action research initiative. First, LEARN will use purposive sampling to delineate specific requirements for data and representatives sought from Missoula City and County departments, which is crucial to the quantitative component of the research. Additionally, purposive sampling will define the people who will be sought out to gain familiarity, understanding, and insight into the phenomenon under study (Creswell & Creswell, 2018; Leavy, 2017). The participants/key informants and stakeholders of the proposed qualitative aspect will be Missoula BIPOC individuals, groups, and community-based organizations. Thus, LEARN will engage BIPOCs and invite them to share stories about their lived experiences and social realities of navigating through community and municipal systems in Missoula. Diversity as well as similarities are sought in the stories of BIPOC residents, collaborators, and stakeholders that are part of the sample.
Snowball Sampling
In addition to purposive sampling, snowball will be used in the research. Using snowball sampling as a method to engage BIPOC collaborators and stakeholders will serve to mitigate against some of the inherent barriers or obstacles associated with inviting marginalized and disenfranchised people and communities to become involved in research studies (Heckathorn, 2016; Sadler, Lee, Lim, & Fullerton, 2010).  According to Sadler et al. (2010), snowball sampling is culturally competent, and it engenders trust among potential participants/collaborators.  Being referred by a familiar, trusting individual increases the likelihood that participants, key informants and stakeholders will engage with the researcher and with the research process.
Additionally, snowball sampling will be an effective strategy because. Missoula BIPOC residents, key informants and stakeholders are well-connected/embedded in a matrix of relationships or connections as part of the larger BIPOC community. Thus, they can select and invite other BIPOC participant collaborators or members of stakeholder groups/networks into the project. BIPOC participant collaborators and stakeholders have decision-making power to determine which members of their networks LEARN can gain access to, and subsequently, members of their networks can elect or decline to become involved (Browne, 2005).  Thus, it is an empowering process given BIPOC history of disenfranchisement, oppression and marginalization. In essence, LEARN Missoula research will become a joint BIPOC collaborative in the quest for knowledge and transformation.
Finally, through the use of snowball sampling, LEARN Missoula hopes to conveys the perspective that BIPOC residents are active, self-governing participant collaborators in the research process rather than passive objects to be studied.  Furthermore, LEARN Missoula snowball recruitment strategy will supports the personal agency of BIPOC Missoula residents, and it is hoped that BIPOC participant collaborators will come to value their crucial role and contribution to the sampling process as they have a voice in and a measure of control over the sampling structure (Noy, 2008)
Methods of Data Collection
LEARN Missoula will use three primary data collection methods: 1) audits of existing/ archival departmental data in conjunction with research interviews of departmental representatives, 2) in-depth personal interviews, and 3) small group interviews. Using these proposed methods will ensure a multi-method approach and guarantee that data collected and generated will be rich and well-developed as well as robust and comprehensive (Leavy, 2017). Ultimately, the multi-method approach will ensure a deeper understanding of BIPOC experiences and social realities of navigating community structures, municipalities, and institutions in Missoula, which a single method cannot truly accomplish.
Additionally, the three-pronged approach (i.e., scrutinizing existing and archival departmental data combined with interviews of departmental representatives, engaging BIPOCs in individual research conversations, and facilitating small group interviews) will help LEARN meet criteria of trustworthiness, suitability and sufficiency (Charmaz, 2006). Furthermore, using the three proposed methods will allow LEARN to engage in multidimensional analyses.
Finally, to ensure fidelity and accuracy of transcriptions of BIPOC participant collaborators words, expressions and content, interview conversations will be recorded using voice activated digital recorder; and they will be conducted using open-ended questions and prompts related to the stated research aims and goals.

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