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The researcher's researcher

Kristen B. Morales

October 19, 2015


You have the idea, the participants, and a place to conduct a study.

But what you don't have is the best set of tools to get the data you need. That's when you want Jori Hall on your team.

Hall, an associate professor in the Department of Lifelong Education, Administration, and Policy, specializes in the best ways to gather data. With expertise in program evaluation, mixed-methods and qualitative research, she teaches other researchers to be better researchers.

"I tell students, they're the content experts. It's my job to help them find the right research methods," she says.

This could mean reviewing documents, interviewing subjects, documenting data, or looking at art-based solutions. It's about understanding the context of your topic and the most appropriate way to get credible results. And it's also about being culturally aware and understanding the needs of your participants.

As a result, Hall's students represent a range of disciplines, and she infuses their research agendas with cutting-edge methods that are reflective of both the data needed as well as their cultural surroundings.

For example, one of her graduate students is conducting an evaluation for the Athens Community Council on Aging. Hall is supervising the evaluation, which uses survey data to examine program participation and photos to explore participants' health challenges. The result was a patchwork of images that showed, in a glance, the success of the program.

Hall teaches in the doctoral program in qualitative research, which began its first cohort this fall, as well as a graduate certificate program in interdisciplinary qualitative studies. "We're excited to offer this PhD in Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methodologies because it's strong research," she adds.

Many of her students come in with a quantitative background and are looking for a greater depth in their abilities. More and more, she says, research is neither qualitative nor quantitative, but a mixture of both.

This means that her students not only need to understand statistical data, but they need to understand narrative data. Mixing research methods and being culturally sensitive gives her students an edge—as well as a more accurate picture of what happens between hypothesis and conclusion.

"It's about how to bring qualitative and quantitative research questions together in a meaningful way," she says. "I'm excited about research—the process of it."