A Phenomenographic Approach for Exploring Conceptions of Learning Marketing among Undergraduate Students – Method

A Phenomenographic Approach for Exploring Conceptions of Learning Marketing among Undergraduate Students - MethodParticipants
Research data for this study were collected through individual interviews with 24 students from two universities in Taiwan. As Bowden and Green (2005) suggested, in a phenomenographic study, the number of interview participants should ensure sufficient variation in ways of seeing, but not be so many that it makes it difficult to manage the data. In practice, most phenomenographers find that between 20 and 30 participants meet the two criteria. All of the participants were majoring in Business Administration, and were taking marketing management courses. Eleven female and fourteen male students (average age: 22.03) were interviewed for this study.
Data collection
The research data were gathered by interviewing the sample students. Each student was interviewed individually by the authors. The interview was undertaken in a semi-structured way. The guiding interview questions were based on the questions from the studies done by Marshall et al. (1999) and Tsai (2004), as follows:
■    What do you mean by ‘learning marketing’? Or, in your view, what is ‘learning marketing’?
■    How do you know when you have learned something about marketing?
■    How do you learn marketing and for what?
All of the individual interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed word for word. The interviews were conducted in Chinese and then fully transcribed for further analysis. The verbatim transcripts of these interviews were the main data sources for analyzing students’ conceptions of learning marketing.
Data analysis
The analysis of the verbatim transcripts of the interview data was conducted using a phenomenographic method. Similar to the method used by Tsai (2004), first, the researchers read all the interview transcripts and marked the parts where students expressed their main ideas about learning marketing. They then considered the selected parts in every interview transcript, underlined the most important sentences, and marked keywords which characterized the student’s views of learning marketing. By comparing the underlined sentences and the keywords derived from the transcripts, the content-specific similarities and differences between students’ interview replies about their views of learning marketing were explored and summarized. Then, the researchers developed ‘qualitatively different’ categories of descriptions that were used to characterize the conceptions of learning marketing of these Business Administration majors.
Reliability checks
The technique of inter-judge reliability is mostly used to check the reliability of categories of descriptions within phenomenographic studies (Dahlin & Regmi, 1997; Tsai, 2004). The reliability of the description categories can be claimed on the basis of the percentage agreement between all the coders’ classifications before and after consultation. Saljo (1988) believed that an agreement of 80% to 90% after consultation was appropriate. In this study, two researchers classified the students’ conceptions of learning marketing. For the interview data which they did not agree upon, the researchers reviewed the interview transcripts again and discussed them case by case, and then determined a final categorization together. The 88 % agreement of the two researchers in this study is acceptable.