Data collection is a set of information obtained through a systemic investigation (Depoey and Gitlin 1998). This study proposes to attain an in-depth understanding of the motivation factors possessed by people who make a commitment to voluntary work, in order to be able to maintain or increase their current level of involvement using a qualitative approach. The study would be somewhat restricted since the sample would be taken from only three voluntary organizations, though the decision to reserve the three subsets to those who are the most represented in the Maltese system of NGO's will attempt to lesson the limitation and bias of the study. The work will focus upon the most largely represented of the four types of NGO's who employ a large number of volunteers; Social work activities with accommodation social work activities without accommodation support and pressure activities. According to Bailey (1991), by highlighting the limitations of the study it does not mean that the study never should be attempted but in fact the study may be proved quite useful in advancing an area of knowledge. Quantitative research on the subject has been done, and is a very useful basis for additional research, yet qualitative research can build a more dynamic case for the personal issues and standards associated with volunteerism and particularly Malta's volunteerism.
Giving the researcher and potentially the subject a better and more personal grasp upon their motivation for volunteering and the greater need of the NGO in general.
Qualitative research is an inquiry process of understanding based on distinct methodology traditions of inquiry that explore a social or human problem. Qualitative research is often associated with detailed small sets of data consistent with the methodology for this work, and the perceived findings. The inquiry process is built upon the need for personalized answers to questions previously associated with quantitative research, in this case that associated with the literature review and the more generalized samples associated with the overall levels of volunteer participation and NGO's in Malta. Within the qualitative research process the researcher builds a complex, holistic picture, analyses word, reports detailed view and conducts the study in a natural setting (Creswell 1998). The in-depth understanding of this study will be carried out through semi-structured questions. (see Appendix 3) A phenomenological study describes the meaning of the lived experiences for several individuals about the concept of the phenomenon. Phenomenologist explores the structures of consciousness in human experiences (Creswell 1998). This study aims to provide a deeper understanding, a holistic view of volunteers and a more human perspective, the motivations if you will for volunteerism and continued participation, despite costs and conflicts associated with the practice.
The sample used for this study is a purposive sampling of five volunteers from each of three voluntary organizations. According to Depoy and Gitlin (1998), the participants' size depends on the types of opportunities for the in-depth observation and interviewing, and according to the intent of the study. They suggest that if the intent of the study is to examine the experience that has been shared by individuals, a homogeneous strategy should be used to obtain study participants. They continue that given that one is minimizing variation, only a small number of individuals will be necessary. Therefore for this study fifteen participants will be interviewed and another two will be pilot studied. As a result of the pilot study, necessary alterations to the interviews will be made if necessary.
The restriction of sample size is important, as previously stated for reasons of qualitative research analysis, yet it must be clear that the results of such work are limited in scope and results. Though clearly representative of the volunteerism present in Malta the sample demonstrates a group that will be chosen with care. Care was taken to choose participants not by the request or recommendation of the NGO leadership but through the most random methods, choosing only those who volunteer for the study but also represent the whole spectrum of the volunteer population, from the novice to the long-term volunteer.
The demonstration of the need to limit the study group to the most represented types of NGOs has been stated previously, yet the mention here is pertinent as it determined the make up of the 15 participants in the sample group. The group consisting of the five individual volunteers, both part time and full time, from the three most represented types of NGO organizations, helped guide a better general understanding of the specific motivations and drives of volunteers in general, in both Malta and in other places. The representative view will further the understanding of the motivation, attitude and satisfaction of volunteers of this particular culture and others, helping to provide a clearer picture for the recruitment, retention and management of volunteer personnel in many areas of the helping industry.
The choice of sample participants attempted to demonstrate a representative group through a variety of demographic markers, age, years of service, level of education, hours of volunteer time given, to help distribute the results over as large a demographic statistical representation as possible. The pilot study demonstrated some strengths and weaknesses in the interview questionnaire and the questionnaire was therefore better tailored to meet the needs of answering the thematic questions of the study. Though nearly all of the information is subjective and self report the results show that the themes previously discussed do play a significant role in the who and why of volunteer service.
A letter of informed consent was offered to all participants in the study, including the organization as a whole (See Appendixes 1 and 2) and the study participants were given the opportunity through these items to have a greater understanding of the nature of the work. The truthfulness of the self-report and subjective results of this survey can not be thought as infallible, simply by the nature of the study, yet the thematic interest in several key points does demonstrate a sincere statistical correlation between individuals in motivation, attitude and overall satisfaction.
3.2 Data Collection
Data was be obtained through individual audio-taped semi-structured interviews, consisting mostly of open-ended questions. (see Appendix 2) As, mentioned previously the questions and processes was altered depending upon the success or recognized concerns brought up by the pilot interviews. Questions will be tailored to better meet the needs of the subject or themes they are meant to address. The interviews will be either in English or in Maltese according to the wish of the participant. The advantages of face-to-face interviews are for clarifying any ambiguities and asking detailed questions for more information. One of the most important techniques associated with unbiased interviewing is associated with summarizing or rephrasing previous answers by the interviewee to help draw out additional significant information, without adding biases to the interview process. These techniques help to draw out the perceptions and experiences of individuals, expressed in their own words.
The presence of the recording equipment was acknowledged by the participant, in the informed consent form and through the physical ability to see the recording device while the interview is being conducted. The interviews were transcribed into written form, for careful analysis at a later time and will be further detailed within the discussion portion of the work. Basic demographic information was obtained during the interview, to assist the research team in determining the similarities and differences each participant brought to the work through their place in life. This includes age, sex, marital status, level of education, and number of hours of volunteer service in any given month and whether they are gainfully employed also. A letter will be given to the participant to explain the purpose and importance of the survey to motivate him/her to reply truthfully and to obtain consent. An appointment will be made at a convenient time and place for both parties. Confidentiality would be stressed and no names would be mentioned during the interviews.
3.3 Data Analysis
The procedure involved the transcription and careful read through in order to gain insight and was coded by theme or category, to help the research team better understand the motivations, attitudes and overall satisfaction of the volunteers interviewed. The researcher conducted the interviews professionally by attempting to reduce or remove all interview bias from the interviews and the results analysis. As explained previously the concepts associated with removing bias from the interview process through summarizing the previous answers as a way to allow for further explanation and greater clarity, was used to a great degree, this can be seen in abundance within the transcript copies of interviews.
The size of the sample (n=15) proved small enough to allow for effective manual thematic analysis. Thematic analysis was conducted through keyword searches and also through the recognition of the biographical and cultural similarities and differences between participants in the study. It is clear that each individual in the study is unique but the narrative manner in which they demonstrate the reasons for and motivations for their particular participation in volunteering does…
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